The Columbus Blue Jackets are a good hockey team, however they need to add a few more pieces to take the step from good to great. Are there any options in free agency who could make the difference?
The Columbus Blue Jackets will be short on cap after this year, so free agency likely isn’t the most desirable route for acquiring a player however if the right person comes along it may be worth a shot. With First Ohio Battery saying that head coach John Tortorella wants to acquire a top six forward, there’s quite a few names to keep an eye on when the calendar reaches July 1st.
James Van Reimsdyk
James van Reimsdyk is the most valuable goal scorer on the unrestricted free agent market besides John Tavares coming off of a career high 36 goals. While JVR only put up 18 assists, his goals certainly made him one of the most desirable players for any team looking to add top six scoring. He’ll likely be looking for a substantial pay raise however, as his cap hit with the Maple Leafs was $4.25M according to CapFriendly.com. If the Blue Jackets find a way to clear up a bit of cap space, van Reimsdyk could certainly be worth a look.
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The second and final Toronto Maple Leaf on the list, Tyler Bozak is likely the most perfect free agent fit for the Columbus Blue Jackets. When healthy, Bozak puts up anywhere from 40 to 50 points a year and only had one year in his career under 50% for faceoffs with his career mark being 53.6% in the faceoff circle. Bozak isn’t elite offensively or defensively, however he certainly is an above average player on both sides of the ice.
What you see with James Neal is exactly what you can expect to get annually. He’s a physical power forward who can put up 25 to 30 goals a year and he’ll always have more takeaways than giveaways when it comes to the defensive side of the ice. His hits have gone down since joining the Vegas Golden Knights, as they dropped from 84 in 2016-2017 to 44 in the just completed season. With the Columbus Blue Jackets, his hit numbers could certainly go back to the previous numbers.
The first thing to note with Riley Nash is that he’s not exactly a top six forward, however the defensive minded forward is certainly a player that any team would like to have. He put up a career high 41 points in 76 games with the Boston Bruins this past season, however the parts of his game that will stand out the most are his 86 hits, 67 blocked shots, and 55 takeaways with only 14 giveaways. Riley Nash is a perfect third line center for any team and he’d certainly fit in with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Any of these signings would be great for the Columbus Blue Jackets, Tyler Bozak is likely the most ideal fit however the most likely signing would be Riley Nash due to the current cap situation.