While the rest of the NHL celebrated the opening of free agency on Saturday, the Blue Jackets continued their pursuit of a top-six center by holding exhaustive trade talks with the Colorado Avalanche.

As of late Saturday, the Blue Jackets had not pried center Matt Duchene off the Avalanche roster, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying.

Talks between Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen and Avs GM Joe Sakic drifted well into the evening, even as events earlier in the day seemed to set the stage for the long-anticipated deal.

The Avalanche acquired center Colin Wilson for a fourth-round pick, giving them a solid player down the middle in the event that Duchene departs.

The Blue Jackets, meanwhile, signed two minor-league defensemen with moderate NHL experience — Cameron Gaunce and Andre Benoit — to two-way contracts, giving the Jackets insurance for their third pairing.

The one player widely assumed to be heading to the Avalanche in a possible deal for Duchene is Blue Jackets defenseman Ryan Murray, who slid to the third pairing in Columbus behind Zach Werenski-Seth Jones and Jack Johnson-David Savard.