Offseason Mailbag: Unrestricted Free Agent Edition

By Sam Blazer on June 15, 2019 at 5:17 pm
Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Artemi Panarin (9) hugs left wing Nick Foligno (71) after being defeated by the Boston Bruins in game six of the second round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nationwide Arena.
Aaron Doster-USA Today Sports

Every other week I will be answering questions in an offseason mailbag. You can ask about anything and everything hockey related. It will help us kill some time before the new season comes and bites us in the butt. 

You can always reach out to me via @Sam_Blazer on Twitter or shoot me an email at [email protected] to ask me questions. We'll make sure that any hockey question you ask will get answered.

This is the question of the summer for the entire organization. The Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky conundrum is almost answered. We know according to reports that both are as good as gone. Reports are also placing them near bodies of water. Bobrovsky and Panarin have both been rumored to the Florida Panthers. 

Duchene has been rumored to be interested in the Montreal Canadiens and Nashville Predators in addition to the Blue Jackets. Dzingel oddly enough hasn't had a lot of rumored destinations mentioned thus far.

Duchene and Dzingel seem the most likely to return out of the bunch. Duchene is likely going to go down to the wire and explore all options as is his right. The Blue Jackets offer a lot that Duchene prioritizes and have as good as shot as any team for his services. Dzingel being such an unknown you have to ask if being a healthy scratch in the playoffs hurts the Blue Jackets case considering the already established Ohio State connection.

Duchene feels the most likely to re-sign but it feels as if Dzingel may still have a chance given his role on the team is outlined.

I think Sergei Bobrovsky has helped this team out plenty and also covered up a lot of warts but the Blue Jackets are going to be just fine without them. The pipeline is full if he decides to walk, it is hard to be too upset at the thought of Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins in net. Merzlikins has been one of the best goalies outside of the NHL for a while, and Korpisalo is one of the most athletic goaltenders in the league. Both are going to be able to be molded and shaped into what the team needs. 

The lack of offensive firepower may come as an issue to some but also looking at some of the players on the team, giving the likes of Oliver Bjorkstrand and Alexandre Texier more ice, It will be a drop-off, but it doesn't have to be so sharp. Add that to the fact that the Blue Jackets are going to have a ridiculous amount of salary cap space; it would be a mistake to think that the team isn't going to replenish. 

I am a natural pessimist, but it doesn't have to be all doom and gloom.

This will inevitably be asked until Columbus turns into a metropolis the size of Chicago or New York. It is just the nature of a small market. I think the nature of the market is going to turn off some naturally. You're not going to be able to grow an enormous brand here unless you're a generational talent, so if you want to start a family and live a relatively anonymous life, you'll enjoy Columbus for what it is.

Given the fact that most unrestricted free agents are in their late 20's and trying to settle down, it is unlikely that many will be turned off by Columbus. There will be a select few that aren't keen, and it won't change possibly ever. The quicker you accept it, the easier it will be as a fan.

This is a tough question. You look at the nature of defensemen deals, and a lot of them are walking right up to unrestricted free agency. The money is now also massive. You would look at the Seth Jones deal and use that as the template.

For someone like Werenski, is he going to ask to make more than his teammate? Are they going to try and set a precedent there? I'd assume regardless that it will be within a million dollars of Jones' deal and the years will likely walk him up to free agency. 

The idea of Panarin and Bob walking won't affect the front office's negotiations, and given how they've operated in the past, I doubt that they will let it make an impact in any discernible way.

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