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The Columbus Blue Jackets face tough decisions with seven restricted free agents

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The Columbus Blue Jackets face some tough decisions as they head into the offseason. One of the items on their list is evaluating their group of restricted free agents (RFAs). These players’ rights are owned by the team, but they may be able to sign with other clubs via offer forms.

The Blue Jackets have seven RFAs to consider:

– Yegor Chinakhov, 23, is not eligible for arbitration
– Kirill Marchenko, 23, eligible for arbitration
– Alexander Nylander, 26, eligible for arbitration
– Cole Sillinger, 21, is not eligible for arbitration
– Alexandre Texier, 24, eligible for arbitration
– Kent Johnson, 21, is not eligible for arbitration
– Jake Bean, 26, eligible for arbitration

With new general manager Don Waddell taking the reins, the front office will have to assess the team’s current and future roster situation. While most teams tend to retain their RFAs, there are instances where players may not be qualified, allowing them to explore other options in free agency.

The Blue Jackets finished near the bottom of the NHL standings and they have a significant number of contracts to fill, especially among their forwards. With fifteen forwards already under contract for next season, re-signing all RFAs may not be feasible.

It will be interesting to see if Waddell considers trading some of these players to consolidate the roster or if negotiations with the RFAs prove challenging. Former general manager Jarmo Kekalainen was known for his tough negotiations, and in the current salary cap landscape, there is a possibility that offers could come from other teams.

Players like Jake Bean and Alexander Nylander could be on the move, while hot prospects like Cole Sillinger and Kent Johnson could be prime candidates for bridge deals. Chinakhov and Marchenko performed strongly last season, and their agents could look for short-term deals to take advantage of future salary increases.

With the NHL Draft approaching and free agency looming, the Blue Jackets will have their hands full with several tasks, including addressing their RFAs. While most players are expected to return, nothing is set in stone in the ever-evolving landscape of professional hockey.

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