You’d think that, after a solid 2013 campaign, the Columbus Blue Jackets would want to bring Vinny Prospal back.
Well, think again.
The 38-year-old — who led the club in scoring last year — has stated his desire to return, but the Jackets seemingly don’t have as much of an interest.
“Are we going to extend him an offer? We’re not sure we want to do that yet,” GM Jarmo Kekalainen told the Columbus Dispatch. “We want to give him the proper respect if we do — and he may not even want to do it.
“We always like to keep our options open, but I’d say right now we’ll stand pat unless we make an offer to Vinny.”
Prospal paced all Jackets scorers with 30 points last season, averaging over 16 minutes a game while tying for the team lead in power-play goals.
He played on a one-year, $2.5 million deal — just like he did the year prior, when he finished second in the team in scoring and led all skaters in assists, with 39.
In late June, he re-iterated his desire to stay in Ohio.
“I want the public and the fans to know I’m not shutting the door on anything,” Prospal told the Columbus Dispatch. “I want to come back. I want to be part of this team, especially after the way we played after the start. We’ve really turned a corner and I can see where this is going.
“It’s going to be good here.”
The issue, it would seem, is Columbus’ financial picture.
The Jackets are a spend-to-the-cap team, evident by last season’s acquisition of Marian Gaborik (and his $7.5 million price tag) and this summer’s signing of Nathan Horton (seven years, $37.1 million) and Sergei Bobrovsky (two years, $11.25 million).
As a result, the Jackets now have 23 players under contract and just over $2 million in available cap space.