The Columbus Blue Jackets entered the offseason facing some very specific, though uncomfortably familiar, problems.
Like goal-scoring, as they were 24th in the NHL with a goals-for average of 2.51. Like their power play, which was a soul-crushing 42-for-301 for a conversion rate of 14 percent. Like getting some offense from their blue line, as Fedor Tyutin(notes) was their leading point man with 27 but was the only defenseman to crack 25 points.
James Wisniewski(notes) is not Paul Coffey, but he's also not Anton Stralman(notes). He was also one of the younger (27) options for better than average offensive defenseman on the free-agent market, and Columbus GM Scott Howson paid him as such. From Puck-rakers:
The Blue Jackets have signed defenseman James Wisniewski to a six-year, $33 million contract, The Dispatch has learned. The deal includes a no-movement clause and a modified no-trade clause after two seasons.
He's not a cure-all, and he's not a shutdown D-man, but he's the kind of offensive defenseman this team has needed for years.
Howson previously traded for the Wiz's negotiating rights from the Canadiens, and will send a fifth-round selection in next year's draft to the Habs having signing him.
Wisniewski earned $3.25 million last season, but the $5.5 million cap hit on his new deal shouldn't be a surprise. Every defenseman in his age bracket (and older) worth a damn is making at least $5 million against the cap annually; the Jackets had to go a little higher because they're the Jackets, but it's pretty fair value for a UFA with his numbers.
Plus, he's also an antagonistic goofball on a team that already has a few pests. If the Western Conference showed us anything last year, it's that annoying wins.
For some, this deal might be hard to swallow, but here's a tip: Scott Howson is managing to save his job. This is symptomatic of that.