Columbus Blue Jackets Anderson Deal Hinges on Others

COLUMBUS, OH - JANUARY 19: Josh Anderson
COLUMBUS, OH - JANUARY 19: Josh Anderson /

The Columbus Blue Jackets extended qualifying offers to four players on June 26. One of those players was 23-year-old Josh Anderson. The Burlington, Ontario native was arguably the biggest surprise of last season for the Blue Jackets.

Josh Anderson broke out and became one of the brightest young stars in the Columbus Blue Jackets organization in 2016-2017. But now, it’s going to take some cash to keep him as his initial contract expires.

The Blue Jackets extended a qualifying offer to Anderson on June 26, which would effectively close a one-year, $735,000 deal between the two parties if Anderson chooses to sign. That’s obviously not what either side wants so there are realistically two options.

Option #1: Bridge Deal

The Jackets could lock Anderson into a bridge deal, which would give the club a little more time to evaluate the player’s true abilities. This could be attractive for the Jackets because with only one year of play from Anderson, it’s a tough call to cut a big deal for someone that has a very limited sample size.

The bridge deal has worked in the past for the Blue Jackets. Signing Cam Atkinson to a two-year, $2.3MM deal in 2013 ended up being a pretty good move for the team as they were unsure what to make of him after just 62 games in the NHL. Luckily, he improved and posted back-to-back 40-point seasons to earn a much larger deal in 2015.

Anderson does have slightly more NHL experience under his belt than Atkinson did, though. Cam hadn’t played a full season in the league when the bridge deal was brought in, but Anderson has.

In 78 regular season games this past season, Anderson scored 17 goals and assisted on 12 more to become one of the more reliable scoring options on the team. Anderson was able to collect two points in the playoffs as well, scoring one and assisting on another in the five-game series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Although I’m definitely not an expert (well that’s the title of my job, but stop being a smartass), I could see Anderson signing a contract similar to Brett Ritchie, who signed for two years and $3.5MM. Ritchie was less impressive for the Dallas Stars, but the two players are still alike in their age, progression, and numbers.

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Option #2: Long-Term Deal

The second option for the Blue Jackets and Anderson is a long-term deal. This is obviously the more risky choice because of the unpredictability of how a player’s mid-twenties will go, but it could be a big success if the player turns out alright.

The Blue Jackets’ long-term contracts have fortunately worked out in recent memory with both Seth Jones and David Savard signing longer deals. Jones got a six-year, $32.4MM contract last offseason while Savard inked a five-year, $21.25MM deal prior to the 2015-2016 season.

I would say that a Savard-esque deal is suitable for the Jackets and Anderson. The AAV would probably be a little lower, but something in the range isn’t too bad.

The biggest problem for the team now though is that they are still tasked with signing fellow RFA Alexander Wennberg. Wennberg is definitely getting more money so a deal for Anderson probably won’t be getting done until Wennberg is secured.

The possibility of adding Matt Duchene also is a major factor in what Anderson will get. Duchene still has two years and $12MM remaining on his deal with the CBJ having limited cap space.

Despite all of the moving parts, we can still expect a deal to get done with Anderson. It’s not a matter of if, but when.