Columbus Blue Jackets Re-Sign Pending Restricted Free Agents

Feb 15, 2017; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets center Lukas Sedlak (45) against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Nationwide Arena. The Blue Jackets won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 15, 2017; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets center Lukas Sedlak (45) against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Nationwide Arena. The Blue Jackets won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

The Columbus Blue Jackets clinched a playoff berth Sunday after defeating the New Jersey Devils. After picking up their 100th point of the season, Columbus signed three promising players to extensions.

Nearing the end of a regular-season filled with milestones, the Columbus Blue Jackets have decided to keep around the young talent that has helped out. Defenseman Scott Harrington and forwards Lukas Sedlak and Markus Hannikainen inked two-year, one-way deals with the team Tuesday. The trio would’ve been restricted free agents this summer. The deals were first reported by Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch.

Production this Season

Sedlak is a 24 year-old out of the Czech Republic that recently came back from an oblique injury. He scored in Sunday’s win over the New Jersey Devils with a penalty shot goal. In 56 games this season and an average TOI of 9:37, Sedlak has contributed 13 points.

Harrington is a +3 plus/minus this season in 16 appearances. He has mostly been a healthy scratch except for replacing David Savard in February when Savard went out with an injury. Harrington played for the Pittsburgh Penguins and Toronto Maple Leafs briefly before landing in Columbus.

Columbus Blue Jackets
Columbus Blue Jackets /

Columbus Blue Jackets

Hannikainen has played the least of the three, appearing in 10 games this season. In those games, he has scored two points with one goal and one assist. The Finn is nearing his 24th birthday and like Sedlak, was a part of the Calder Cup championship team in Cleveland last year.

Impact on the Rest of The Jackets

The remaining RFAs on the Blue Jackets roster includes Alexander Wennberg, Josh Anderson, and Joonas Korpisalo. Those three have been very coveted members of the team’s success this season. Wennberg and Anderson have stood out with Zach Werenski as exemplary rookies while Korpisalo has been an exceptional backup goalie for Sergei Bobrovsky. In nine games, he has posted a 6-3 record.

Sam Gagner, Lauri Korpikoski and Kyle Quincey are the only unrestricted free agents on the roster. I fully expect Korpikoski and Quincey to enter free agency without an offer from the Jackets. Gagner will be an interesting case to follow. No doubt he has been a key part of the Jackets success this year. Bringing him back seems valuable, but the Jackets cap scenario makes that difficult.

The Jackets currently have about $1.6 million in cap space. Today’s deals shouldn’t impact the cap by more than $300,000 for next year. Letting Korpikoski and Quincey walk increases the overall space to about $3.9 million.

Gagner’s production this season puts him around the asking price of $3 million. This leaves just under a million to negotiate with Wennberg, Anderson, and Korpisalo. The best hope for bringing back Gagner is a large-scale increase in the salary cap. Projections have been around the $3 million mark which would still make it difficult to re-sign the remaining RFAs and Gagner.

Expansion Draft

The always looming uncertainty. I don’t think any of the three that were signed today were on Las Vegas’s radar. Signing these three acts as an insurance policy if any of the other great young talent we have gets swooped up and taken to the desert. Josh Anderson, Matt Calvert, William Karlsson, and Ryan Murrary have all been speculated to be taken. Locking up the three skaters today surely would not replace any of those guys but would make any of those scenarios less painful.

Related Story: Stop worring about the expansion draft

The past performance of Jarmo Kekalainen and John Davidson has proved one thing, they know what they are doing. We love playing armchair GM but at the end of the day this front office knows what they are doing. They seemed high on all three of these guys by not unloading them at the deadline. Re-signing them and avoiding restricted free agency can only benefit our already abundant depth.