It's no secret that the Columbus Blue Jackets are a team in transition.
And while much of the tearing down has already happened (at least, one can hope), the difficult part comes next, where the organization must make difficult decisions on players that will, or, more specifically, won't, be part of the future. It's possible that all of the below players (or none) are moved at the trade deadline. But even if they aren't, with pending RFA/UFA status, there's no guarantee they'll be back next year.
Here are three players I'm keeping an eye on over the coming months.
Roslovic has been a disappointment in his second season with the club, and it's fair to say that the bloom has come off the rose. At 25, he's not exactly a prospect anymore, and, in what will become a trend in this article, it's hard to say where someone like Roslovic fits into a lineup on a winning team. Yes, he's a center, but his defensive deficiencies and consistent turnovers (see below video) have put him in Brad Larsen's doghouse. But the Blue Jackets lineup is crowded on the wing, and I'm not sure the production is there to justify top-six minutes. Neither is Larsen, who has relegated Roslovic to the defacto fourth line.
A pending RFA, the Blue Jackets could extend him this offseason, most likely via a one-year qualifying offer at a reasonable cap hit. But it's starting to feel like he'll be moved at next month's trade deadline... if there's a taker for his services.
Bemstrom is the classic promising prospect that hasn't yet amounted to the lofty expectations brought on by prior success. After torching the SHL as a teenager, many in the organization assumed he was ready to step into the NHL and produce.
His best asset, his one-timer, has not been unleashed with any consistency at the NHL level, and he's not nearly dangerous enough on the power play to justify a regular slot with the man-advantage. On the other hand, he's still only 22, and the Blue Jackets could (like Roslovic) retain the pending RFA into next year and beyond with relative ease.
But do they want to? What purpose does a scoring winger that doesn't score serve in the NHL? I've been patient with Bemstrom until this season, but with just 2-2-4 in 13 games and just 15 goals in 89 regular-season NHL games, I'm just not really sure the Blue Jackets need to see much more of him.
I went back and forth between Domi and Patrik Laine, and maybe it's recency bias, but it's just easier to imagine a world where Laine is part of the club's long-term plans than Domi. A pending UFA, Domi is a classic rental that an aspiring playoff team would think about adding at the trade deadline.
A playmaking winger who can help a second-unit power play, who comes with a reasonable cap hit (once you take into consideration the $5.3M will be prorated), Domi may make sense for a contending team that could use another offensive player. While it's probably fair to say that Domi has shown more than Roslovic and Bemstrom, his pending UFA status may (and should) make him a casualty of circumstance.