Free agency day is finally here.
The Blue Jackets have been reported to be potentially linked with several free-agents in this weeks courting period, but some of them, like Joe Pavelski and Mats Zuccarello, are apparently not in the club's future.
But others, including the Sharks' Gustav Nyquist and the Bruins' Marcus Johansson, are still potential targets for the Blue Jackets, according to Elliotte Friedman's Sunday night reporting. Later today, we'll probably know their fates, but in the meantime, we decided to break down whether or not it would prudent for the Blue Jackets to pursue either, or both, of these players.
The Case For
Nyquist has a lot going for him. He's been a model of consistency with the Detroit Red Wings and can play up and down a lineup. In 500 career regular season games, he's scored 131-175-306 and is a four-time 20-goal scorer. The Athletic's Dom Luszczyszyn projects a top-six caliber player for the next four seasons.
The Case Against
He'll be 30 at the start of the next season, and that's a dangerous time to hand out a free agent contract. In 55 career playoff games, the Swede has just five goals and 19 points. The Blue Jackets are pretty strong on the right wing, with Cam Atkinson, Josh Anderson, and Oliver Bjorkstrand already basically penciled in for the top-nine slots. Nyquist has played primarily RW in his career, which hurts his cause. He could be a decent player for the Blue Jackets, but expectations would need to be tempered.
I'd be okay with the Blue Jackets securing Nyquist to a 3 or 4-year contract in the $5M ballpark, but he's almost certainly going to have longer/more lucrative contract options. On the wrong side of 30, adding Nyquist doesn't do much to inspire me in the long-term, but he'd be a good second line player for a few years.
The Case For
The Blue Jackets saw Johansson up close and personal in the club's second-round loss to the Boston Bruins. Another Swede, Johansson is a versatile player who has played some center in his career, but he's primarily a left-winger. While Columbus is strong on the right side, they're brutally thin on the left, so Johansson makes sense there. He's definitely a middle-six player who can chip in offense and play against opposition's skilled forwards.
The Case Against
When Columbus signed Riley Nash as a free agent (coincidentally from the Bruins) last summer, they were hoping to get ... a versatile forward who can play up and down the lineup, chip in offensively, and provide some offense. Would they go down the same road again? Johansson will also be 30 when the season starts, which, again, is a less-than-ideal time for a team to ink a player to a fat new deal.
Like Nyquist, Johansson could be a good fit, if the price – and term – is right. It's July 1, though, so don't expect that. But if they could sign him for 3-years at around $4.5M, that would be a win.
These two players have a lot in common. They're both Swedish wingers who will be on the wrong side of 30 when the 2019-20 season starts. They can both play in a top-nine capacity, but neither of them is a true offensive driver. If the Blue Jackets are able to woo either of them, while still maintaining a reasonable price/term, it would be a welcome addition to a team that's losing a lot of offense. If the price is too high, it would be advisable to pass on giving out a contract the club would regret down the road.