Blue Jackets Free Agency Primer

The Blue Jackets did not make this post easy on me. As we head into the beginning of free agency July 1, and look at the Jackets’ needs, we still have to consider the pending trade of Rick Nash which will almost certainly bring back at least one NHL roster player. Who will that player be? What position will he play? Will there be multiple NHL players? A couple of top six forwards coming back really changes the Blue Jackets goals heading into free agency. So for the purposes of this post, I will be considering the NHL roster as-is, minus Rick Nash.

As I currently see it, the team needs at least one top six forward, at least one bottom six forward, a depth defenseman, and an NHL goaltender. Preferably, they would add two top six forwards and one bottom six forward. On offense, this would push Vinny Prospal, Ryan Johansen,  and/or Cam Atkinson into the bottom six, who could then form a third scoring line with Mark Letestu and either Derek Dorsett or a trade/free agent pick-up. The versatility of Ryan Johansen and Mark Letestu really helps with the flexibility, as does having Johansen, Atkinson and Ryan Russell on two-way contracts. Johansen and Letestu can shift to the wing, and Johansen, Atkinson and Russell could all be sent to Springfield if better options are added.

On defense, the selection of Ryan Murray solidifies the Blue Jackets top six for next season. Jack Johnson, James Wisniewski, Fedor Tyutin, Nikita Nikitin and Marc Methot should be locks for five of the spots. The last spot will come down to Ryan Murray, John Moore or possibly David Savard. I would expect to see Murray get a nine game regular season tryout before the winner of that spot is selected. Only one of those three should be on the NHL roster, while the other two play big minutes in the AHL/WHL. This would require a seventh defenseman for the NHL roster, one who would likely only play in emergency situations, or if the blueline is struck by multiple injuries. In net, a better option than Steve Mason is necessary. Whether or not that player will be better than Sergei Bobrovsky is up in the air, but someone needs to be brought in. For a better handle on their needs, let’s take a look at the Blue Jackets roster:

Blue Jackets Current Roster

FORWARDS
R.J. Umberger $4.6m – Derick Brassard $3.2m – ???

Vinny Prospal $2.5m – Ryan Johansen $1.945m – Cam Atkinson $0.875m

??? – Mark Letestu $0.625m - Derek Dorsett $1.633m

Ryan Russell $0.700m - Derek MacKenzie $1.0m – Jared Boll RFA

Colton Gillies $0.625m

DEFENSEMEN

Jack Johnson $4.357m – James Wisniewski $5.5m

Fedor Tyutin $4.5m – Nikita Nikitin $2.15

Marc Methot $3.0m - John Moore $0.965m

Ryan Murray Unsigned

GOALTENDERS

Sergei Bobrovsky $1.75m - Steve Mason $2.9m

CURRENT CAP SPACE: $25.833m

Now onto the lists of free agents. All four of the lists are sortable. CGP, etc stands for Career Games Played, etc. The $$$ and exp. $$$ refers to the players salary last season, and an expected salary for next season.

Top Six Forward Options

PlayerAgePrev. TeamPosGPGAPts/GCGPCGCACPts/G$$$Exp. $$$
Alexander Semin28WashingtonLW7721330.704691972110.876.707.00
Olli Jokinen33CalgaryC8223380.7410422923910.663.004.50
Jiri Hudler28DetroitC8125250.62409871270.522.884.00
PA Parenteau29NY IslandersLW8018490.8418841880.691.254.00
Andrei Kostitsyn27NashvilleLW7216200.503981031190.563.253.50
Dustin Penner29Los AngelesRW657110.284891351270.544.253.00
Brad Boyes30BuffaloRW658150.355581582140.674.002.50
Lee Stempniak29PhoenixRW6114140.465171291460.531.902.50
Kyle Wellwood29WinnipegC7718290.61450861340.490.702.00
Alexei Ponikarovsky32New JerseyLW8214190.406361351790.491.502.00
Kristian Huselius33ColumbusLW2000.006621902640.684.752.00
Guillaume Latendresse25MinnesotaLW16540.5631481560.442.501.50
Peter Mueller24ColoradoC32790.5025455880.562.001.50
Wojtek Wolski26FloridaLW31480.39424951630.613.801.50

Bottom Six Forward Options

PlayerAgePrev. TeamPosGPGAPts/GCGPCGCACPts/G$$$Exp. $$$
Brandon Prust28NY RangersLW825120.2127924390.230.801.50
Travis Moen30MontrealLW48970.3357052550.191.501.50
Jay McClement29ColoradoC801070.21553631140.321.451.50
Eric Fehr26WinnipegRW35210.0926548480.362.201.50
Benoit Pouliot25BostonLW7416160.4325753510.401.101.50
Jordin Tootoo29NashvilleRW776240.3948646790.261.251.25
Dominic Moore32San JoseC794210.32530671180.351.101.25
Adam Burish29DallasRW656130.2929725290.181.151.25
Taylor Pyatt31PhoenixLW739100.267551301340.351.001.25
Torrey Mitchell27San JoseC769100.2528030430.261.371.25
Daniel Winnik27San JoseLW848150.2736637640.280.951.25
Ryan Carter28New JerseyC65440.1225418250.170.751.00
David Moss30CalgaryLW32270.2831761630.391.301.00
John Mitchell27NY RangersC635110.2522225460.320.650.75
Tanner Glass28WinnipegLW785110.2126213260.150.750.75
Zenon Konopka31OttawaC55320.0925011160.110.700.75

Depth Defenseman Options 

PlayerAgePrev. TeamGPGAPtsPts/GCGPCGCACPtsCPts/G$$$Exp. $$$
Aaron Rome28Vancouver4346100.23174616220.130.751.00
Kent Huskins33St. Louis252570.282991354670.221.000.75
Steve Eminger28NY Rangers422350.124531977960.210.800.75
Randy Jones31Winnipeg391120.0536520851050.291.150.75
Jim Vandemeer32San Jose251340.1646125801050.231.000.75
Mike Lundin27Minnesota170220.12241431350.151.000.55
Aaron Johnson29Columbus56313160.292171745620.290.550.55
Peter Harrold29New Jersey110220.18175820280.160.550.55

Goaltending Options

PlayerAgePrev. TeamGPWSV%GAACGPCWCSV%CGAA$$$Exp. $$$
Scott Clemmensen35Florida30140.9132.57152640.912.641.202.50
Dan Ellis32Anaheim1010.9112.72165720.9082.681.501.50
Jonas Gustavsson27Toronto42170.9022.92107390.92.981.351.25
Alex Auld31Ottawa1420.8843.35237910.9042.81.001.00
Martin Biron35NY Rangers21120.9042.465002280.9112.610.881.00
Cristobel Huet36HC Fribourg-Gotteron41170.9152.862721290.9132.465.631.00
Justin Peters26Carolina720.9312.4828110.93.230.530.75
Chris Mason36Winnipeg2080.8982.593061360.912.631.850.75
Al Montoya27NY Islanders3190.8933.156210.9062.760.600.75
Antero Niittymaki32San Jose (2010-11)34120.8962.72234950.9022.952.000.55
Michael Leighton31Adirondack (AHL)56280.9182.58104350.9022.951.550.55
Andrew Raycroft32Dallas1020.8983.522801130.92.890.650.55
Brad Thiessen26Pittsburgh530.8583.72530.8583.720.530.55
Mark Dekanich26Milwaukee (AHL 2010-11)43230.9312.02122650.9222.160.580.55

While not a comprehensive list, those are the names that I think could be either good fits in Columbus, or players they may target on Sunday. I hope to see one name from each of those lists added to the Blue Jackets by early next week. Sort through the options and lets us know in the comments which players you want to see in Union Blue!

4 Responses to 'Blue Jackets Free Agency Primer'

  1. DerDrache says:

    As far as forwards go, PA Parenteau is intriguing. Obviously I love his scoring but in the past two seasons he’s played 80 games or more. While past results never guarantee future performance, there’s something to be said for getting a player that will be there night-in, night-out.

    I know that many share this view but I see making an offer to Dekanich as a no brainer. $600k, 2-way, 1 year deal. Extremely low risk with the possibility of discovering a gem. If he’s a dud or gets hit with the injury bug, we let him go. I understand GMSH and others hesitancy to sign him considering last year’s results but I see very little downside in giving him another shot.

  2. Dutchman1350 says:

    Got to imagine the “right player” will be looked at, rather than the “best player”. A theme I think we can all agree on.

    Prust would be my favorite, and then add a top 6 guy from the Nash trade.

  3. Fro says:

    PAP, Whitney, Prust, Clemmenson…that’s my want list…If we sign those, than we can worry about the Nash trade less and focus on one or two players and not the argued 4 pieces that was rumored by Porty…

  4. ducktrance says:

    Good post. I like Parenteau, Mueller, Moen and Tootoo (don’t hate me for that, he’s actually a pretty decent player). Mueller still has upside but a lot of injury concerns, could be worth a shot. He couldn’t be less successful than Huselius here.

    And in goal, Clemmensen would be good. Gustavsson would be a gamble that you would need inside info on. Even more of a question mark than Bobrovsky in terms of what you could get. His range is like Martin Gerber… you could get an amazing performance but you’re just as likely to get a guy letting in dump ins from the red line.

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