Identifying the Core Pieces for the Columbus Blue Jackets

We talk quite a bit about the future core of the Columbus Blue Jackets. That core is at least a couple of years away from being a serious contender. Who do we consider to be a part of it?
Minnesota Wild v Columbus Blue Jackets
Minnesota Wild v Columbus Blue Jackets / Jason Mowry/GettyImages
3 of 5

The situation up front is a little less linear. Obviously, there are twice as many forward spots available compared to the defense. I also expect a lot of movement here over the next couple of seasons.

The Blue Jackets have just four players currently on the NHL roster, who are signed beyond next year. Johnny Gaudreau (through 2028-29), Patrik Laine (2026-27), Boone Jenner (2025-26), and Adam Fantilli (2025-26).

This will change this summer, as the team has six(!) restricted free agent (RFA) forwards they'll need to deal with. I expect them to keep at least four of these guys around: Kent Johnson, Yegor Chinakhov, Kirill Marchenko, and Cole Sillinger are all positively part of this team's long-term core. Also surely fitting into the future plans: 2025 RFA Dmitri Voronkov.

Jan 27, 2024; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Columbus Blue Jackets forward Kirill Marchenko (86)
Jan 27, 2024; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Columbus Blue Jackets forward Kirill Marchenko (86) / Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

The other two RFAs this summer are Alexandre Texier and Emil Bemstrom. I would not be surprised to see the team extend Texier, especially if he's inexpensive. He's carved out a niche for himself in the bottom-six; acting as a two-way threat and PK specialist. I do think they will move on from Bemstrom.

Jack Roslovic is the lone unrestricted free agent (UFA) on the roster heading into this spring. It's likely he'll be moved at the trade deadline, as the team looks to recoup some assets for a player that doesn't seem to be part of the solution here. They will also have to move on from Sean Kuraly, Mathieu Olivier, and Justin Danforth at some point - all three are UFAs in 2025.

There good news is, are some good pieces in the prospect pool that we can still be excited about, who should be primed to take the jobs vacated by Roslovic, Kuraly, Olivier and Danforth. Jordan Dumais, Gavin Brindley, and Luca del bel Belluz; should all be ready to make an impact in the next few seasons.

James Malatesta, William Whitelaw, Luca Pinelli, and Hunter McKown all seem like future NHLers as well. The future for the Columbus Blue Jackets is filled with skill and depth at every forward position.

Where do the pieces all fit, and what might be missing? Let's put together a future roster on the next page.