Columbus Blue Jackets
Current Cap Hit: $70,831,138 (under the $81.5MM Upper Limit)
Sillinger took advantage of the Blue Jackets being thin down the middle to push himself into a regular roster spot and he is the only player from this draft class to make it past the nine-game threshold to start his rookie deal. His offensive numbers are certainly decent but it’s what he does in the last half of the contract that will determine if he gets a short-term second deal or a long-term pact as a franchise fixture. His two ‘A’ bonuses for this season could very well be hit, giving him a nice jump in pay. Columbus somewhat surprisingly agreed to burn the first year of Chinakhov’s deal last season without him playing a single game. That, coupled with a quiet start to his rookie campaign, puts the 2020 first-round pick on a path for a bridge contract. Bemstrom was a capable secondary offensive player in his rookie season and was a bit below that pace last season but has yet to play this season due to an oblique strain. Players like that rarely get long-term pacts but he should be able to land a small raise and be closer to the $1.5MM mark in 2022-23.
Boqvist was one of the key pieces of the trade return for Seth Jones but things haven’t gone as planned with his new team. He underwhelmed early on, got hurt, wound up being a healthy scratch for a little bit, and has been up and down since returning. While Columbus surely still views the 21-year-old as a long-term fixture, it’d be next to impossible to find a price point that both sides are content with on a contract that buys out UFA years. A bridge deal – potentially even a one-year contract to try to restore some value – makes the most sense for Boqvist while giving both sides more time to determine whether or not he can reach his offensive ceiling.