The Columbus Blue Jackets signed a center and a large amount of depth on the first day of free agency.
The Columbus Blue Jackets‘ management have a lot more work ahead of them in the coming weeks as the final top pieces of free agency slowly fall off of the board. According to Capfriendly.com at 10 AM EST on July 2, the following players are some of those still available for teams to sign. They are sorted from least likely to most likely in my opinion.
Nail Yakupov, Columbus Blue Jackets fans likely remember the now infamous “Fail for Nail” back before the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. He hasn’t found a solid fit so far at the NHL level, and it’s possible he’ll never find one.
However, many were thinking something similar about Sam Gagner when he signed with Columbus a few years back. While Gagner had shown prior NHL success, he was at a career low. Yakupov shows flashes of brilliance and it’s easy to see why he was a first overall pick when he’s playing at his best. Those flashes haven’t shown up enough for him to get a stable NHL job though.
The Blue Jackets would likely be able to get Yakupov on a deal around 1 year for $1M and if they have the opportunity, they should certainly do it. If he doesn’t work out, it’ll be a short term mild inconvenience with a potential to be a high reward.
With the Columbus Blue Jackets losing defensemen Ian Cole and Jack Johnson to free agency, they could use a veteran replacement for a couple years while they continue to develop talent. Dan Hamhuis was a steady defenseman for Nashville and Vancouver for 12 years before ending up in Dallas.
While he’s not what he was in his prime, Hamhuis will bring veteran leadership and decent production on the blue line. The Jackets though did just sign three AHLers with fringe NHL ability on defense yesterday.
Patrick Maroon has played with some of the best players in the NHL, whether it be Connor McDavid, Taylor Hall or the Anaheim duo of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. It may be a good idea to add Artemi Panarin to that list. Maroon is a physical power forward with over 330 hits in the last two years. On top of that, he produces around 40 points annually.
Adding a player like Maroon would allow the Columbus Blue Jackets to spread out their top wingers in a Pittsburgh Penguins like lineup formation. It would slide Atkinson’s speed and scoring prowess to the second line, while not losing much production on the first line but drastically increasing the second line’s.
Dylan DeMelo is a right handed defenseman who played limited ice time with the San Jose Sharks and has yet to have a breakout season. But DeMelo seems close.
Last year he nearly doubled his career high in hits, blocked shots and more than doubled his season point highs. His 20 points won’t jump off the page as overly impressive, but he also only played roughly 15 minutes a night.
Dylan DeMelo most importantly would give the Columbus Blue Jackets the ability to regularly play three right handed and three left handed defensemen every game, a rarity in the modern NHL but definitely a bonus.