NHL free agency kicks off tomorrow (July 13th), giving teams a chance to add key pieces to their roster. There are some big names headed to the market this summer, perhaps none greater than Pittsburgh Penguin legend Evgeni Malkin. But for the Blue Jackets, a team in transition, I don’t expect them to make a big splash this summer. The roster is very young and I expect another year of development, perhaps with some decisions to be made next summer.
That doesn’t mean the next few weeks of the offseason won’t be news-worthy for the club, as they have some key restricted freeagents to lock up. I also expect some moves to be made to tweak the roster, as the logjam on both forward and defense will need addressing. If anything, I think they may look to add a veteran depth defenseman, the kind of move that won’t make headlines, but might help stabilize the back end. Read: Laine deal has to work for both sides.
Traditionally, the Blue Jackets don’t have a long history of making big name free agent signings. Perhaps most notable is the Nathan Horton signing in 2013, which did not work out. But, while this team is primarily built via the draft; in general I think GM Jarmo Kekalainen has done a nice job adding depth to his roster via free agency, with his best signings becoming key depth pieces. To attract the bigger names on the market, you have to have a team ready to compete; and the window for the CBJ is still most likely 2-3 years away.
Today, we’ll take a look back at three of the best free agent signings Jarmo has ever made, and their impact with the club.