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2022 Free Agents Targets: Could the Columbus Blue Jackets target a forward?

The Blue Jackets have a dire need at center. Could a free agent forward be a fit?

Chicago Blackhawks v Columbus Blue Jackets Photo by Ben Jackson/NHLI via Getty Images

NHL Free Agency is set to open tomorrow on Wednesday, July 13, 2022. We at The Cannon will be previewing free agency targets for not just the Blue Jackets, but some of the bigger names as a whole. First up - the forwards.

The Columbus Blue Jackets will enter free agency on Wednesday with $16.9 million in cap space to play with. The team still has to re-sign RFAs Patrik Laine and Nick Blankenburg, but should have some money to play with.

Who are some targets they could reach out to in free agency? Who are some of the forwards that could change teams league-wide this summer? Let’s dive into the forward market to take a look.

Johnny Gaudreau

Johnny Gaudreau put up a monster season in his contract year: 40-75-115 to tie for second in the NHL in scoring last year, with career highs in every scoring stat as well as game winning goals. Gaudreau has 609 points in 602 games in his career for the Flames. It’s been rumored that Calgary has offered an 8 year, $9.5 million contract to Gaudreau, but he has yet to accept it.

Andre Burakovsky

Andre Burakovsky is just 27 years old but is already a two-time Stanley Cup Champion. He had a solid season for the Colorado Avalanche last year, putting up 22-39-61 in 80 games, He was largely ineffective in the postseason, playing just 12 games due to injury but had just eight points in those games. He has averaged just .568 points per game in his NHL career and is probably looking for a long term deal to cash in in his late 20s. He’s probably not something in the Blue Jackets price range to consider.

Andrew Copp

Andrew Copp, traded to the New York Rangers at the deadline last season, will likely be a hot commodity following his postseason run with the Rangers. In 20 playoff games for the Rangers, he had six goals and eight assists. He fit in seamlessly to a team that went on a deep run showed up big in clutch moments, which is the type of run that can get a player paid by a contender. He’s not the type of player Columbus needs right now, but perhaps the next Copp in a few seasons will be a target for the Blue Jackets.

Dylan Strome

Dylan Strome, not tendered by the Chicago Blackhawks in their effort to be a 35 point team next season, is the first name Columbus should be targeting hard come Wednesday afternoon. Strome has 170 points in 273 career games, had 48 points in 69 games last year, and can play center. He’s also just 25 years old, so he has a large amount of his career left. Plus, he’s a good player.

Nazem Kadri

We have talked about Kadri previously, and he’s probably not a fit, but it’s fun to imagine a top center in Columbus for once.

Evgeni Malkin

It would be really funny, but I doubt he would come to Columbus - Malkin is likely looking to cash in on a team that has a chance to win the Stanley Cup in the next few seasons, and Columbus isn’t there yet. Still, it is worth mentioning the Pittsburgh Penguins losing one of their two or three (depending on how you feel about Kris Letang) Hall of Famers this offseason. He’s older, and is quite injury prone, but he’s productive when he’s on the ice. For the right price, he’ll make a playoff team happy.

Vincent Trocheck

Trocheck had a good season for the Carolina Hurricanes (21-30-51 in 81 games) and also had 10 points in 14 playoff games. Trocheck has been a 20 goal scorer four times in his career and has 150 career goals, but he’s basically a Gustav Nyquist type, and the Columbus Blue Jackets already have Gustav Nyquist. He’s likely not a fit here.

Dominik Kubalik

Kubalik, another non-tender by the Chicago Blackhawks, plays left wing and seems to be less of a fit for Columbus than Dylan Strome. He is coming off an extremely down season, 15-17-32 in 78 games last year, but has 116 points in 202 career games. Kubalik will be 27 years old next season, and has not really found consistent time/minutes in his career. A late bloomer, Kubalik could likely a take a short team deal somewhere to boost his value before cashing in. Could Columbus be a fit?

Other Available Forwards

Claude Giroux
Phil Kessel
Patrice Bergeron
Alexander Radulov
Ondrej Palat
Reilly Smith
Colin White
David Perron
Mattias Janmark

Who do you want to see Columbus sign at forward? Sound off in the comments below!