Just a quick look at the Blue Jackets upcoming free agents, their salary from this past year, and a quick note on their performance. The first part of this list will include all unrestricted free agents. All numbers were found on NHLnumbers.com. Salary is listed in parenthesis in millions of dollars.
Manny Malhotra (1.500) - Top priority among unrestricted free agents. Versatile third line center that has played well when called on for top line duty. The biggest question mark will be how much does he expect to make. He's not a top line center, but played well enough to be next to Rick Nash for the majority of the season. One of the top face-off men in the NHL.
Jason Williams (2.200) - played extremely well in Columbus after a bad start in Atlanta. Does he want to be a complimentary player on a good team making an average salary, or does he want to cash in again and go through the motions playing for a bad team? He was one of the more clutch players on the Blue Jackets roster, behind perhaps only RJ Umberger. A right-handed shot, too.
Mike Peca (1.315) - His role and effectiveness has diminished greatly in just the last year. He was no longer a top face-off man, and was often outspoken in the media despite being one of the poorer performers on the team.
Chris Gratton (1.250) - Only a couple games played for the Blue Jackets. A late waiver pick-up by Columbus, did not find a role here, but look OK in the games he played. Most of his season was spent with Tampa Bay's AHL affiliate.
Craig MacDonald (.515) - One of the top Crunch call-ups during a key stretch halfway through the season that kept playoff hopes alive. But the Crunch may need some different veteran faces, something didn't work right this year. He wouldn't see more than a few games in Columbus if re-signed.
Mike York (.750) - Played poorly when called up. Not sure if there's much left in the tank. 6 teams in the last 9 years. He most recent good season in the NHL was 2005-06 when he had 52 points in 75 games. The last 4 seasons he hasn't put up more than 14 points in a year.
Christian Backman (3.400) - Can I have the number of your agent?
Aaron Rome (.544) - Wasn't as impressive this year as last, but is a solid defenseman to have when needed. There will be some decisions to make when it comes to retaining guys like Rome and Tollefsen.
Wade Dubielewicz (.500) - Couldn't ask for a better teammate. There just wasn't enough trust in his ability to have him relieve Mason. Phone number will be on speed dial if other options fall through.
Tomorrow, I will look at the Blue Jackets restricted free agents. Who would you keep?