Philadelphia center is top trade target for Howson

The Blue Jackets aren’t waiting for the NHL entry draft this month to start work on what they hope will be a summer of blockbuster deals.

Multiple NHL sources have told The Dispatch that the Blue Jackets and Philadelphia Flyers have discussed a trade that would send Flyers center Jeff Carter, an All-Star in 2009, to Columbus for a top-six forward and the No. 8 overall pick in this year’s draft. That top-six forward, presumably, is 21-year-old Blue Jackets winger Jake Voracek, a restricted free agent.

Though it could occur sooner, it’s likely such a trade wouldn’t be completed until the first round of the entry draft is held on June 24 in St. Paul, Minn.

But the likelihood of the deal took a sizable step forward on Tuesday, when the Flyers acquired the rights to goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov from Phoenix.

Bryzgalov is looking for a five-year contract in the area of $6million per season, according to reports in Philadelphia, a figure that would put the Flyers well over the NHL’s projected salary cap.

Carter is signed for the next 11 seasons with a $5.27million annual cap hit, according to Unlike many of the Flyers top players, he does not have a no-trade clause.

The term of Carter’s contract – he’s signed through 2020-21 – is a bit risky, but the Blue Jackets have reached a point where bold moves are needed. Attendance plummeted last season by more than 2,000 fans per game as they missed the playoffs for the ninth time in 10 seasons.