Blue Jackets Free Agency Preview: Defensemen and Goaltenders
Free agency opens on Saturday, July 1 at noon. The Columbus Blue Jackets could be players: the team has roughly $13 million in cap space for the coming season and could afford to pay nearly any player on the market after buying out left wing Scott Hartnell yesterday.
Pale Dragon covered the potential list of forwards the Blue Jackets could add on Saturday. Here are some prospective defensemen and goaltenders the team could add. Let’s take a look.
Kevin Shattenkirk, D, Washington (UFA) - Shattenkirk is the biggest name on the free agent market among defensemen. He was traded from St. Louis to Washington last year at the trade deadline and failed to truly mesh with his new teammates. Shattenkirk had a disappointing playoff run as the Capitals fell in the second round. Shattenkirk will be looking for a raise from his $4.25 million cap hit last season, and the Jackets could afford him. Is there a need, though? Signing Shattenkirk means breaking up the top two pairings that Jarmo is intent on keeping together. Ultimately, while adding Shattenkirk could help, I do not see a fit.
Karl Alzner, D, Washington (UFA) - Alzner could be a better fit, given his low production last season. He only scored 13 points while playing all 82 games and making $2.8 million. A slight raise while pairing him with either David Savard, Jack Johnson, or Markus Nutivaara could make some sense. I do not see Alzner being signed though, as the pipeline on the blue line is pretty full right now. Signing Alzner would make Ryan Murray even more expendable, though.
Steve Mason, G, Philadelphia (UFA) - Ha. I just wanted to see that typed out. No way the team brings back Mase.
Andrei Markov, D, Montreal (UFA) - Markov is 38 and likely looking to join a contender to have a chance at winning the Stanley Cup. Markov is coming off a 36 point season that saw him make $5.75 million. I am certain that the Blue Jackets wouldn’t want to pay him that much at such an advanced age. Markov could provide veteran leadership on the blue line, but would he have much more value than as a third paring player?
Ryan Miller, G, Vancouver (UFA) - Miller had a bad season in 2016-17, going 18-29-6 with a 2.80 GAA and .914 SV%. Miller is 36 and on the downside of his career. That being said, he could have value as a backup netminder. The goaltender pipeline in Columbus is thin (especially now that Anton Forsberg has been traded as part of the package to get Artemi Panarin). If the team wants to send Joonas Korpisalo back to Cleveland, signing Miller could make sense as a player who could fill in for a night or for an extended stretch of Sergei Bobrovsky got hurt.
Ultimately, I do not foresee the Blue Jackets being active on the back end in free agency. The team has been built from the net out, and the front office is looking to add goal scoring ability up front.
Do you think the Blue Jackets will sign a defenseman or a goaltender? Let us know!