Five Remaining UFA Forwards For The Blue Jackets To Consider

By Sam Blazer on August 7, 2019 at 8:43 am
Carolina Hurricanes right wing Justin Williams (14) waves to the crowd after their loss to the Boston Bruins in game four of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PNC Arena. The Boston Bruins defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 4-0.
James Guillory-USA Today Sports

At the top of the lineup, the Blue Jackets roster has lost a bit of its luster. They were able to sign Gustav Nyquist to a four-year, $22 million contract but it's a far cry from the end of 2018-19.

The scoring isn't there, and it's going to take a player or two to fill in that slot–whether that production comes internally or externally. While they hope that it gets filled internally by a top prospect, it wouldn't be surprising to see the position supplemented.

Here are five remaining UFA forwards the Blue Jackets should check in on: 

Patrick Marleau

Marleau could be looking at retirement if no one comes knocking in the short term, but last year for the Toronto Maple Leafs, he didn't look completely toast. Having a player of his pedigree could help younger players to see how it is done.

The aging veteran (now 39) is often not needed and can be redundant with multiple leaders on the team, but nonetheless, bringing in someone like Marleau feels like it would be different. 

He would fill in at a position of need and could push players if necessary. It's a risk, but it often is when you're trying to find a UFA this late in the offseason.

Justin Williams

Likely the best of the bunch, Williams just keeps going and going and going and going.

He played a vital role on a Carolina Hurricanes team that made a surprising run to the Eastern Conference Final in 2019. Williams is 37 and isn't showing much sign of slowing down and because of it, should be a player that teams take a long look at.

It appears that a large chunk of change is going to be needed to get him away from the Hurricanes, though. On a short-term deal, it doesn't feel like much of a risk but could hamstring a team like the Blue Jackets if it isn't a fit.

Thomas Vanek

Vanek has been mentioned before as a fit – and that isn't going to change. 

He's an offensive producer and that's about it. Luckily for the Blue Jackets, that's exactly what they need. Plug him in the middle-six and let him put the puck on net; it's what he does best and he should put up some points in the process. Though, in his first stint with the Blue Jackets, he wasn't exactly a favorite of coach John Tortorella.

On a one-year deal, this feels like the best band-aid for a team that needs that temporary scoring push. 

Patrick Maroon

Now a Stanley Cup champion, Maroon thought he was looking at a big payday after taking a one-year "show me" deal with the St. Louis Blues. While it didn't turn out the exact way he envisioned (he's still unsigned), he has another opportunity to impress and make the money that he deserves.

Like the other players on this list, he isn't going to be looking at a break-the-bank type deal. He is going to want a position on a team that will put him front and center while hopefully showing off his strengths. That means that Maroon should be circling the Blue Jackets, a team that needs some punch up front. If he can regain his scoring ways, it should make for a solid marriage.

Tobias Rieder

Similar to Anthony Duclair last year, the Blue Jackets could take a chance on Rieder and see if they can utilize him in a way that helps him refine his game. Rieder is faster than the dickens, but was unable to find a spot with the Edmonton Oilers.

Rieder may be a fairly high risk considering that he burnt out with Oilers but at his best, he is someone that the other team has to be mindful of. 

Place Rieder with a couple of puck-moving defensemen, and you're looking at a potentially successful combo. Are the Blue Jackets willing to give him a contract with hopes of that promise, or could this be more of a PTO situation?

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