Friday also saw one of the big restricted free agents finally come off the list, as the Columbus Blue Jackets re-signed forward Alexander Wennberg to a big 6-year contract. The deal carries a cap hit of $4.9 million per season, which works out to be $29.4 million in total.
The 22-year old came off his biggest season yet with the Jackets, scoring 13 goals and 59 points in 80 games, good enough for 62nd overall in pool scoring and 42nd among all forwards.
Wennberg is going to be in for a bit of change in the upcoming 2018 season, as his club traded away one of his key linemates from last season, Brandon Saad. According to the DobberHockey fantasy site, Wennberg and Saad were combined with Nick Foligno for nearly the majority of Wennberg's ice-time last season and all three were fairly successful in that lineup. The Wennberg and Foligno pairing may still be intact when training camp and the regular season rolls in, but it will be interesting to see who will slot in for Saad.
The uncertainty of the lineup, heading into this coming season does have my projections down a little for Wennberg, but he will be part of a pretty lethal offense that the Jackets have put together. If Wennberg can find some chemistry with newcomer Artemi Panarin, who was the other half of the Brandon Saad trade, these projections could be left in the dust. If Panarin can find the same stride that he had in Chicago here, then most everyone on this list will certainly benefit from his play.
The Jackets still have RFA Josh Anderson left to sign in this off-season, but I am showing this team with plenty of wiggle room left to work with. My current 23-man projected roster is still leaving management with a shade over $7 million in unused cap space. Anderson won't cost near that much, but whatever they don't use will be very helpful, if they can string another big run together.