The Columbus Blue Jackets have an important crop of unrestricted free agents this summer.
Fans might have heard something about that once or twice. A week. All season.
With the “tampering period” opening today and some players taking meetings, let’s take one final look at the unrestricted free agents the team could lose or re-sign in the coming weeks.
Dzingel played well in Ottawa and struggled in Columbus. Stop me if you’ve heard that before.
Dzingel, a former Ohio State product, posted 12 points for the Jackets in 21 games before getting just one point in the playoffs and being healthy scratched for the Boston series.
It’s possible he comes back on a Boone Jenner type of deal, but far from certain. For the price Columbus paid (Anthony Duclair and two second round picks), surely the team was hoping for more, both in terms of production and commitment.
This one stings.
Artemi Panarin is probably the best skater to ever wear the Blue Jackets sweater. He has also made it clear that Columbus did not offer the type of lifestyle he was searching for and would not be signing with the team long term. Handled internally prior to the season, his antics still managed to drive fans insane as they hoped he would sign against all odds.
Any hope of that, however, now appears out the door.
NHL UFA speaking period opens Sunday. Coveted free agent goalie Sergei Bobrovsky and winger Artemi Panarin will be in FLA to meet with the Panthers on Monday. FLA would like to sign both but need a goalie more than a forward so the priority may be Bob.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 22, 2019
From the outside, that appears to be a bad thing for the Blue Jackets.
Told that there won’t be any deal between Columbus and Matt Duchene before the UFA speaking period opens Sunday. Fair to say Nashville is the front runner.— Craig Custance (@CraigCustance) June 22, 2019
The Jackets have long desired to keep Duchene and can offer him and 8 year deal. It falls to Duchene’s shoulders now - will he commit to Columbus long term, or will he move to Nashville? It is impossible to predict what Duchene wants. Hopefully Columbus can find a way to keep him.
McQuaid, another deadline acquisition, played serviceable third pairing minutes before an unfortunate injury ended his season.
McQuaid, however, does not appear to fit into the team’s plans at defense long term. With the arrival of Vladislav Gavrikov, the role of big bodied defenseman has been filled internally by a younger player. McQuaid, a veteran presence, will find a home in the NHL if he wishes to continue playing after suffering an injury, but that home will not be in Columbus.
Injury insurance brought in at the trade deadline, Kinkaid never saw the ice for the Blue Jackets. He was part of a goaltending tandem in New Jersey prior to the trade, and his deal expired after the end of the season.
Kinkaid could be worth keeping around if the team decides to move Joonas Korpisalo for assets. If the Blue Jackets decide, however, that they will enter the season with their young goaltending tandem, it does not look like there is room for Kinkaid on the roster.
Bobrovsky had a roller coaster season for Columbus in 2019 before he helped to deliver the team its first series win.
Unfortunately, now, that looks like the last time Bobrovsky will suit up for the Jackets.
It appears Sergei Bobrovsky and Artemi Panarin are en route from Russia to Miami International, scheduled to arrive this afternoon...meeting with the #FlaPanthers is tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/v0ftCevLRX— George Richards (@GeorgeRichards) June 23, 2019
With the arrival of Elvis Merzlikins, this was always likely. Sergei Bobrovsky, for all he has done for the franchise, had run out of time in Columbus and is looking for a longer term deal than what fits into the front office’s plans.
GM Jarmo Kekalainen and the rest of the front office have their work cut out in the coming days. It will surely be an eventful week for Blue Jackets fans.