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The Blue Jackets Contract Situation Entering the Offseason

All eyes will be on May 8th, when the NHL Draft order will be finalized. 

(Photo by Emily Christy)


With the end of the Blue Jackets season quickly approaching, lets take a deeper look into the team’s contract situation going into the offseason.


Goaltenders


With the club’s best performing goaltender, Joonas Korpisalo, being traded at the deadline to the LA Kings, the Blue Jackets have a big hole to fill this offseason. Elvis Merzlikins is locked up at $5.4M AAV until the 2027-2028 season. We can expect Elvis to stick around given the high cost of the deal and the poor play this season.


The other goaltender spot is wide open. Jon Gillies, Michael Hutchinson, Jet Greaves, and Daniil Tarasov have all spent time filling the void that Korpisalo left behind. Tarasov is an RFA in 2025 and Greaves is an RFA in 2024. Both have looked like solid contenders to take Korpisalo’s spot moving forward. The acquisition of Hutchinson seems like more of a stop gap so the club can have bodies to finish the season with, but never say never. If Hutch can impress, there could be room for a veteran on a two way or even a 1-way contract, as the chances of Hutch being claimed off of waivers would be low. 


Lastly, Gillies has struggled in his few NHL appearances. To his credit, not many goaltenders would impress with the current state of the team.


Defense


With Gavrikov moved before the deadline (in the same trade as Korpisalo), there is room for other impact skaters to stick with the big club.


Werenski, Gudbranson, Boqvist, Blankenburg, Peeke, Bean, and Jiricek are all under contract for next season. Marcus Bjork and Jacob Christiansen will be RFA’s while Gavin Bayreuther will be an unrestricted free agent.


While the defensive core looks full, the Jackets will need to add more 2 way depth given the luck with injuries the team has. In reality, they need an elite level D to help take minutes. Finding a partner for Werenski moving forward, either through player development or external means, will be a big need if the club hopes to make the playoffs. There is a clear Gavrikov sized hole that needs filled.


Offense


Much of the current core is going to be sticking around. Two RFA’s include Mathieu Olivier and Lane Peterson. Olivier has added some much needed grit to the Blue Jackets who were severely lacking in that department. Peterson was a late deadline addition but has done a solid job in a bottom 6 role. I’d expect both of them to stick around given their RFA status.


A few younger players who have seen both NHL and AHL time this season are also due to be RFA’s, such as Trey Fix-Wolansky and Carson Meyer. Again, they’ll be around next year.


Also look for Alexandre Texier to rejoin the Blue Jackets next year. Although not 100% confirmed, General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen has hinted that those conversations have taken place and have gone well.


Overall


Not to much excitement with occur this offseason in regards to Blue Jackets players becoming unrestricted free agents. Nearly all contracts set to expire will be RFA’s, giving the club all the leverage in negotiating.


Expect most of the offseason excitement to come at the Draft, where the Blue Jackets have a high probability to have the number 1 pick. If CBJ falls to the 2nd or 3rd pick in the draft, a high quality prospect will be joining the organization regardless.


All eyes will be on May 8th, when the NHL Draft order will be finalized. 


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Note: All contract data referenced was from CapFriendly, one of the best hockey resources out there.

Travis Jones

@TravisKCJones

April 11, 2023 at 12:00:00 AM

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