If the Columbus Blue Jackets enter the 2015-16 campaign with largely the same defense as last season, it won’t be because they didn’t try to make a big change.
Per Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch:
The Blue Jackets were in on trade talks concerning Dougie Hamilton before Boston sent him to Calgary, and they’ve contacted the St. Louis Blues about Kevin Shattenkirk. The Jackets also made a contract offer to free agent Paul Martin before he signed with San Jose.
Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen plans to keep looking, but it’s worth noting that Columbus is only about $4 million below the ceiling after signing Brandon Saad and Matt Calvert, per General Fanager. That’s not to say that Columbus can’t still acquire a top defenseman, but it’s more likely that it would have to involve the other team either retaining salary or taking a contract in order to make things work.
As things stand, the Blue Jackets have one of the cheapest defenses in the league as their money has instead flowed to their forwards and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. That’s thanks in part to the fact that blueliners David Savard, Dalton Prout, Ryan Murray, and Kevin Connauton each come with a cap hit of $1.3 million or less, but all of them will be restricted free agents next summer and the raises they might demand has to also be a consideration.
So ultimately Columbus might stick with what it has and hope Murray can stay healthy as the 2012 second overall pick has run into serious injury problems early in his career.
“To me, getting him healthy would be the best addition any team has made this summer,” Kekalainen said. “It would make a huge difference for us.”