Wisniewski returns to Columbus lineup amid flurry of trade talk

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On the heels of last night’s report that the Blue Jackets are shopping d-man James Wisniewski, Columbus head coach Todd Richards confirmed Tuesday that Wisniewski would return from his one-game press box banishment and play tonight against Buffalo.

Wisniewski, 31, was a healthy scratch for Sunday’s game against the Rangers, a decision Richards said was performance-based. But the narrative surrounding the veteran d-man changed on Monday night, when the Dispatch cited “two different sources” claiming the Jackets were trying to move Wisniewski.

It’s not hard to understand the move. Wisniewski carries a pretty big price tag — two years left in his six-year, $33 million deal with a cap hit of $5.5M — and it was a contract GM Jarmo Kekalainen inherited from his predecessor, Scott Howson.

While Wisniewski is a good offensive producer (seven goals and 27 points in 52 games this year), his play on the defensive side of things hasn’t been stellar. What’s more, he’s a highly-coveted right shot and could have significant value on the open market, especially with Cody Franson having already been acquired by Nashville.