With the free agent market for top players getting thinner by the day, trading for a players rights ahead of July 1 is the new rage. We saw the Islanders do it yesterday for Christian Ehrhoff and the Flyers did it earlier in the summer for Ilya Bryzgalov, a deal that worked in their favor locking up the goalie for nine years.
With top defensemen being a tough find, the Columbus Blue Jackets got involved today acquiring the rights to James Wisniewski from Montreal in exchange for a seventh round pick in 2012. If the Blue Jackets sign Wisniewski that pick turns into a fifth round choice in 2012.
In Wisniewski you get a physical defenseman with some offensive game. Often known for his rough style of play, Wisniewski also offers a good shot form the point and a valuable guy to have on the power play. His issues come from his ability to take bad penalties and for the occasional turnover at the blue line. That said, he proved to be a good, tough player for Montreal and New York Islanders last season and is set up to become one of the better targets on July 1 for those in need of defense help.
Should Wisniewski stay in Columbus he’ll be a huge help to their power play which was beyond miserable last season clicking at a 14% rate, good for 29th in the league just ahead of Florida. With the addition of Jeff Carter and now the potential addition of Wisniewski along with Rick Nash, things are looking up in a big way for the Jackets.
GM Scott Howson will have to show Wisniewski the money, however, as he was set to cash in on July 1 no matter what. Howson said earlier this offseason that big things were coming for the Jackets. Perhaps this time around it wasn’t just marketing gone wrong in Columbus. Jackets fans sure hope so as the team has made the playoffs just once in franchise history back in 2009. So far this offseason has given the fans a lot to be hopeful for, now they’ll have to hope there’s more to come and that coach Scott Arniel can make it all work.