The Best Fits: Analyzing The Top Three UFAs for the Blue Jackets' Needs

By Jacob Nitzberg on October 13, 2020 at 8:20 am
Mar 10, 2020; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Nashville Predators center Mikael Granlund (64) skates during a second period face-off against Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre.
Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Jarmo Kekäläinen has one thing on his mind right now, and that's Pierre-Luc Dubois' contract.

However, as that situation continues to develop, several big-name free agents have been snapped up. The Blue Jackets were in for Taylor Hall, but he elected to go to Buffalo on a 1-year, $8 million deal. Tyler Toffoli was another intriguing option, but he's now in Montreal after inking a deal for 4-years and $17 million.

The Blue Jackets aren't likely to make any moves until Dubois' contract is sorted, so they'll need to speed things up in that regard if they still want to improve their team via free agency. With that being said, here are three free agents who have yet to be signed that would fit well in Columbus.

1. Mikael Granlund, C/LW

Granlund is a playmaker and a dynamic center, although he's struggled in Nashville for the past two years. He also knows freshly-minted Blue Jackets Mikka Koivu very well. The two played in Minnesota together for seven seasons.

In 540 NHL games, Granlund has tallied 111-241-352, including six seasons with 40 points or more. He's not a goalscorer by trade, but he has two seasons with 20 goals or more. After two tough seasons in Nashville, the 28-year-old will be looking to reclaim his game.

2. Evgenii Dadonov, RW

Dadonov has been a goal-scoring machine for the past three seasons. He's put up 81-101-182 since coming back from the KHL before the start of the 2017-18 season. The Russian winger has a wicked shot, which is exactly what the Blue Jackets need more of.

At 5'11" and 185 pounds, he won't blow you away with his size, but he's scored 28-28-25 over his last three seasons, respectively. Dadonov also drives play when he's on the ice. His CF% in the last three seasons is 52.3%.

3. Andreas Athanasiou, C

You may remember that the Blue Jackets were close to acquiring Athanasiou at the trade deadline this past season. The deal fell through, but if the Blue Jackets still have interest, it'd be a good fit. Athanasiou is one of the fastest players in the NHL, and was able to find some offensive success over the past few seasons despite playing on some woeful Red Wings teams. 

With his blend of speed and skill, Athanasiou would fit in well in Columbus. His defensive game does need a bit of tinkering, which I'm sure head coach John Tortorella would be more than happy to provide.

Who else do you think would be a good fit? Let us know in the comments below!

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