Barring a near-miraculous change of heart, the Columbus Blue Jackets will look very different merely by trading Rick Nash this summer. Still, there will be some familiar faces, with Todd Richards getting the “interim” tag removed from his job title and depth players getting locked up.
Aaron Portzline reports that Derek MacKenzie is that next fringe guy to ink a new deal, as the team is expected to announce a new two-year deal on Wednesday. MacKenzie’s physical was significant because his 2011-12 season was marred by concussion issues.
Beyond the obvious Nash question, Portzline reports that re-signing MacKenzie narrows GM Scott Howson’s off-season “to-do list” down (assuming he’s the one doing things still, of course).
MacKenzie’s signing leaves the Blue Jackets with two free agent priorities before July 1 – defenseman Nikita Nikitin and right winger Jared Boll, both restricted free agents. The Jackets may pursue a two-way deal with goaltender Curtis Sanford, depending on what other changes happen at that position.
Then again, with trading Nash and not screwing up the No. 2 pick on the docket, keeping everything else simple might be a solid plan.