After an entire year of worrying about the future of Sergei Bobrovsky and Artemi Panarin in Columbus, our long regional nightmare is over. All of the speculation can end and teams can finally announce new contracts with unrestricted free agents. Discuss all the signings, trades, and rumors in the comments. If you share some news or rumor, please provide a source. We will update this post with news relevant to players departing or joining the Blue Jackets, and Mr. Swift will be posting a separate article for each deal as it becomes official.
What does Jarmo Kekalainen have up his sleeves today? Will he break the bank on a free agent? Make a big trade to help out a team that faces the cap crunch? Or will he stay cautious and trust the team he has already assembled?
The (Likely) Departed
Sergei Bobrovsky appears headed to Florida, for 7 years at $10 million AAV (average annual value, aka the cap hit) per Elliotte Friedman and others.
Matt Duchene is going to Nashville for 7 years at $8M AAV. Brian Hedger reports that the Jackets had an offer for more than $8M AAV. I guess he REALLY loves Nashville.
Artemi Panarin was said to be going to the Islanders, but then it broke late Sunday evening that the Jackets made a last minute push to keep him, with an offer of 8 years and at least $12M AAV. But after midnight, the ability to offer an eighth year expired. With no deal then, it would seem unlikely that he reconsiders and signs a seven year deal with Columbus today. Hopefully this play by Jarmo drives up the cost for a division rival if Panarin goes to New York.
To have two different players leave money on the table to go elsewhere? I gotta be honest, that stings. At least you can say that Jarmo (and CBJ ownership) tried:
The New Arrivals
Stay tuned. Not a lot of smoke yet but some names still available include Marcus Johansson and Gustav Nyquist. If the Islanders do sign Panarin, then that makes it less likely they can re-sign their captain Anders Lee. He would be worth pursuing.
Given the high risk of overpayment for unrestricted free agents, I think it’s very likely that Jarmo pursues a trade instead. Perhaps for a restricted free agent, or to help a team who needs cap relief to sign their own RFA.
The Capitals signed Richard Panik, and I think four years for a 28 year old bottom six winger is a bit of a...um...shoot, what’s the word for when you do something in a hurry because you’re scared? Ah, it’s on the tip of my tongue. Anyway, they also traded Andre Burakovsky to Colorado.
The Hurricanes acquired James Reimer from Florida (so the Panthers REALLY need to sign Bobrovsky or they have no goalies for now). They are still in the mix for another goalie to be the starter, whether it’s keeping Petr Mrazek or pursuing a Robin Lehner or Semyon Varlamov. Personally, I think they should let Parma, Ohio native Alex Nedeljkovic battle for the job. He just led the Charlotte Checkers to the Calder Cup title.
The Devils have already made big moves by drafting superprospect Jack Hughes and trading for former Norris Trophy winner PK Subban. Starting today they can negotiate an extension to former Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall, who has one year remaining on his contract.