The Blue Jackets have signed their final restricted free agent, center Michael Chaput. Originally drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010, Chaput has spent his entire professional career with the Jackets' organization both in Springfield and in Columbus.
Last season, he made the Opening Night roster after impressing the coaching staff in camp and stuck for 33 games as injuries depleted the Jackets down the middle. Boone Jenner was a candidate to move to the pivot, but was injured by a puck in camp. Both Brandon Dubinsky and Mark Letestu spent time on IR early in the season as well. Chaput notched 1-4-5 in those 33 games with a -8 rating before spending the rest of the year in the AHL. In 50 career NHL games with the CBJ, he has one goal and five assists with 23 penalty minutes.
Chaput's deal is for one year and is a two-way contract. At the NHL level, he would make $650,000. This is clearly a "prove it" contract as Chaput will be battling for a spot on the organizational depth chart. He has played well in the AHL, but that has not translated to much success at the NHL level. With the potential arrivals of many prospects expected in the next few years, this is a critical season for Chaput to try and cement his place or prove his worth to other teams around the league.
By my latest count, this is now contract #47 for the Blue Jackets. Rumors are still swirling that the team is trying to sign free agent defenseman Christian Ehrhoff. Because the team is coming up against the cap, it's believed that the front office is waiting on signing him to see if his salary demands will come down. Even then, Jarmo may have to get creative to make sure the team is not over the cap.
Barring an unforeseen trade or an extremely late signing of Ehrhoff, it is very likely that the organizational roster is now set for training camp going into the 2015-2016 season. We will keep you updated should anything change in that regard.