3. Markus Nutivaara
When the Columbus Blue Jackets drafted Markus Nutivaara in the 7th round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, not even Jarmo Kekalainen likely expected what would happen next. Nutivaara would become a mainstay on the Blue Jackets blue line by the 2016-2017 season and is now in his third season at the NHL level.
Nutivaara may not develop into a top pairing defenseman, however he’s on pace to grow into a second pairing defenseman of the future and can be a solid third defenseman behind Seth Jones and Zach Werenski for the foreseeable future.
With Markus Nutivaara, his contract was signed prior to he seemingly started to have a breakout season this year, giving the benefit of the deal to the Columbus Blue Jackets. His contract runs through the 2021-2022 at a cap hit of only $2.7M. At only 24 years of age, Nutivaara will only continue to grow in terms of production from here.
This year, Nutivaara has 12 points through 28 games and has been one of the most consistent players for the Jackets on defense. Werenski and Jones may put up more points, but Nutivaara is more of a two-way player and as a result his defensive abilities make him an all-around good player.
Markus Nutivaara is not only one of the best contracts on the Blue Jackets right now, but he will remain that way for the foreseeable future with his relatively long term deal. With him being the third defenseman of the future in Columbus, he’ll likely get a massive raise when this deal is up.