Where the Blue Jackets might fit 7 new faces next season

The offseason is in full swing this week, and the Blue Jackets should be very busy. Today, we'll look at where 7 new faces could fit into the lineup next season.
Carolina Hurricanes v Columbus Blue Jackets
Carolina Hurricanes v Columbus Blue Jackets / Jason Mowry/GettyImages
3 of 3

Roster impact #5/6: depth forwards...

This one may seem counter-intuitive because the Blue Jackets have a logjam of depth forwards already on the roster. But, as down the middle, the issue here isn't in numbers: it's in quality.

Just putting this bluntly, they need guys who can play tougher. I don't mean "drop 'em" toughness ... we're talking about guys that go to the boards and win puck battles, block shots, and eat up defensive zone minutes.

They aren't getting that from Alexandre Texier, or Alexander Nylander ... and top-six jobs are going to be harder to come by this season. I can see guys like this being squeezed off the roster.

The Blue Jackets have exactly four guys who can be leaned upon to do a lot of the things you want in a bottom-six forward: Boone Jenner, Sean Kuraly, Justin Danforth, and Mathieu Olivier. If you told me Cole Sillinger and Dmitri Voronkov, sure, I would agree. Gavin Brindley and James Malatesta will get there as well, in time.

But, they're all still learning how to be professional players. I think some veterans to surround them and buy time would be great. For this reason, I think we're about to say goodbye to some of the fringe roster guys in the very near future. The team needs better depth, not just more of it.

Roster impact #7: and in goal...

Don Waddell has been somewhat straight forward when talking about Elvis Merzlikins and his contract. Part of that is to motivate the fiery goaltender. But part of that may also just be brutal honesty.

Merzlikins hasn't been good enough, and in my gut, I think the team looks to add a veteran backup to the roster this summer in case things don't work out. The nuclear option here would be sending Merzlikins and his $5.4m AAV to the AHL, and the Jackets will need someone else on the roster in case Daniil Tarasov runs into injury troubles again.

At first glance, finding jobs for 7 new guys may seem tough. But, when you break it all down, there is plenty of opportunity here. It's just time to move on from the "good enough" phase of this franchise's rebuild.