I previously looked at the list of Blue Jackets unrestricted free agents, and well as the team's restricted free agents. Now, let's look at who the Jackets should target at the start of NHL free agency, which begins July 1st.
The Blue Jackets don't need a major overhaul - that was last year. Bringing in free agents Kristian Huselius and Mike Commodore, and trading for R.J. Umberger and Fedor Tyutin. But they need players to fit into pretty specific roles: offensive defenseman that can move the puck, checking line center(s) for the 3rd/4th lines, and dependent on other moves, you might want to keep your eyes peeled for a checking winger.
So, who do we look for?
Johnny Oduya, Defense
Just 27 years old, Oduya is coming off a solid season. He finished with 7 goals, 22 assists for 29 points and was +21 with the New Jersey Devils. He made just $600K last year. He is improving his offensive output each season and it comes along with his solid defense. A player that does well in the Devils system would certainly do well under Coach Hitchcock. He has a bit of playoff experience with the Devils, and that's the type of player we need to add.
Dennis Seidenberg, Defense
Another 27 year old defenseman who tallied 5 goals, 20 assists for 25 points and was effective in the playoffs for the Carolina Hurricanes with 6 points in 16 games from the blueline. He could find a comfortable home in Columbus on the second pairing and with increased power play time. He's effective at the point and could help the transition game.
Francois Beauchemin, Defense
Trading Chris Pronger to the Philadelphia Flyers may have just secured a spot for Beauchemin in Anaheim, but it appears he'll at least hit free agency and can field offers from other teams. This is one player the Blue Jackets should have never let get away, but he may have never reached his potential had he spent more time under the previous regime. His contract this off-season could look a little bloated, think Ron Hainsey last year, but it could be worth it at the right price.
Ty Conklin, Goalie
Although I'm pretty much convinced the Ty Conklin Curse is in fact real, I'm all for a trip to the finals. Joking aside, Conklin is a respectable back-up and good teammate. His time in Columbus was only cut short because the deal to pick up an extra draft pick made sense at the time, but he's proven to be a legitimate back-up behind the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings.
Craig Anderson, Goalie
Great attitude, solid back-up, and a good competitor. I'm not sure I even saw Anderson in many games this year, but isn't that just the impression he gives off on a daily basis? He proved he could compete and helped keep the Florida Panthers afloat when Tomas Vokoun struggled, and would be a welcomed addition to the Blue Jackets locker room.
Scott Clemmensen, Goalie
If Zach Parise didn't have such an awesome year, Clemmensen certainly would have been the Devils MVP. No Marty Brodeur? No problem. As long as you have Scott Clemmensen. He proved he could carry the load and kept the Devils fighting for their division. The only problem with Clemmensen, like Anderson, is they both may be looking for starting jobs. And in Columbus, you know who you'll be sitting behind.
Chad LaRose, Left Wing
The Blue Jackets have a bit of an overflow on the wings, especially on the left side. So much so that Rick Nash switched to the right wing this season in order to maintain the line pairings Hitchcock wanted. But LaRose would fit right in Columbus with his passion and grit. He tallied 19-12-31 this season, and was a rock in the playoffs for the Hurricanes with 11 points in 18 games. This is a player Columbus could target if they trade a few wingers for a defenseman. He would look good on the third line.
Sami Pahlsson, Center
The Blue Jackets will definitely need to add at least one checking center this off-season. With Jiri Novotny gone, Manny Malhotra contract talks stalled, and Jason Williams better at wing than at center (if he's re-signed), the Blue Jackets need someone in the 3/4 slot. Although injuries are starting to pop up more often, Pahlsson is still a very effective checking line center and would look good between Jason Chimera and Raffi Torres.
Who do you like? Who have I missed? Let me know who your favorite free agent is.