Well, last summer wasn't fun from the perspective of Blue Jackets fans.
However, the summer of 2020 will be nothing like the last one. The free-agent exodus won't (and can't) happen again. Let's take a look at what lies ahead for the Blue Jackets' front office.
The Blue Jackets don't have a single player on their roster that will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of the current NHL season, which is great news. Conversely, they have several restricted free agents (RFAs) that they'll have to negotiate with.
The following players will be RFAs at the conclusion of the 2019-20 campaign:
- F Josh Anderson
- F Jakob Lilja
- F Devin Shore
- F Kevin Stenlund
- F Pierre-Luc Dubois
- F Ryan MacInnis
- D Gabriel Carlsson
- G Joonas Korpisalo
- G Elvis Merzlikins
All of these players have made significant contributions at the NHL or AHL level, so it's likely that the Blue Jackets will extend qualifying offers to most (if not all) of the players listed here.
One exception to the rule is defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov. Since arriving in Columbus, Gavrikov has become a mainstay on the blue line and a fan favorite. His contract situation is quite interesting. Since he doesn't fit the qualifications to become a UFA or RFA, he is what is known as a 10.2(c) player.
What does that mean? Great question.
Per CapFriendly, A 10.2(c) player is a player who does not meet the UFA requirements or the Group 2 RFA requirements and has been issued a qualifying offer. The player is only eligible to negotiate and sign a contract with the club that holds their signing rights. They are ineligible to negotiate a contract (offer sheet) with any other club. They are also ineligible for arbitration. If the player does not receive a qualifying offer by June 25th at 5:00 pm ET, they immediately become a UFA.
Basically, the difference between Gavrikov and an RFA is that Gavrikov cannot negotiate with other teams. Therefore, a team cannot submit an offer sheet for his services, which helps the Blue Jackets sleep a little more soundly.
With these situations in mind, it's likely to be a successful summer for the Blue Jackets, unless we see a holdout like the 2017 Josh Anderson situation. It'll also be interesting to see how COVID-19 will (or will not) affect the valuation of players as well as the salary cap.
Rest easy, Blue Jackets fans. No one's leaving (probably).