Where Do the Columbus Blue Jackets Stand Going into Free Agency?

By Sam Blazer on June 30, 2019 at 12:51 pm
Dallas Stars center Mats Zuccarello (36) celebrates after scoring against St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington (not pictured) during the first period in game seven of the second round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Enterprise Center.
Jeff Curry-USA Today Sports

It's hard to keep up with the NHL free agency circus.

Who's going where, and for how much money? To make matters even more confusing, the Columbus Blue Jackets are a name tied with nearly every player near the top of every free agency list.

The three top players in free agency are all (soon to be) former Blue Jackets: Sergei Bobrovsky, Artemi Panarin and Matt Duchene. All three are expected to leave the team at this point in time. The only player believed to be considering a return to Columbus is Duchene; the Blue Jackets hold a distinct advantage by being able to offer an eighth year. 

The Blue Jackets requested to meet with San Jose Sharks forward Joe Pavelski, but he politely declined, per a report from Aaron Portzline of The Athletic.

It is believed that the Blue Jackets have interest in another Sharks player, forward Gustav Nyquist. Nyquist did well in his time with the Sharks and was a constant on prior Red Wings clubs. Nyquist could easily slot in as a top-six winger in Columbus.

The Blue Jackets are also in hot pursuit of another Swede, Bruins center Marcus Johansson – this info also courtesy of The Athletic. Johansson was acquired by the Bruins before the trade deadline, and was a pivotal part of their playoff run. Johansson projects as a middle six center but has earned himself a massive free-agent pay raise after a strong finish to the season.

Winger Mats Zuccarello, who most recently played for the Dallas Stars, is also being pursued by the Blue Jackets. Zuccarello has connections to the team with head coach John Tortorella and former teammate Rick Nash, from their days with the New York Rangers. As far as top line replacements go, there are worse options than Zuccarello. 

It doesn't appear, given the current construction of the team, that the Blue Jackets will be in hot pursuit of a defenseman or a goaltender. That could change at a moment's notice if trades end up coming to fruition. 

The Blue Jackets have focused in on Zuccarello, Nyquist and Johansson as their targets with rumblings that Islanders forward Anders Lee could be someone they're targeting, as well.

It's the silly season around the NHL. Time to buckle up and see who ends up getting straight paid.

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