The Columbus Blue Jackets locked down one of their two restricted free agent forwards on Friday morning as they signed Nick Foligno to a three year, $9.15 million contract, per Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch.
#CBJ have signed Nick Foligno to a three-year, $9.15M contract.
— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) July 6, 2012
The Jackets, if you recall, picked up Foligno on July 1 in exchange for Marc Methot. The deal is interesting from a hockey perspective in that both teams come away with additions that they desperately needed and simultaneously pose detriments to the roster.
The Senators required additional blueline depth to play alongside Erik Karlsson after the departure of Filip Kuba and get a solid ‘defence first’ piece in Methot. The Jackets required additional depth up front with the impending trade of Rick Nash and, in Foligno, add a gritty two-way player with 20 goal potential, provided he gets the special teams minutes.
Conversely, July 1 signaled the exodus of any and all grit from Kanata, Ont., as Matt Carkner and Zenon Konopka left the Sens via free agency and Foligno went to Ohio in the trade. Guillaume Latendresse isn’t going to instill fear in opponents the way the three aforementioned players did. The willingness to ship toughness out the door is an even more bizarre move when you consider that Ottawa’s surprise 2011-12 season which brought them a playoff berth and pushed the New York Rangers to the brink in round one was largely credited to the team’s gritty, workmanlike hockey.
The Blue Jackets, for all of their woes, actually aren’t outclassed on the back end. A six man rotation of James Wisniewski, Fedor Tyutin, Jack Johnson, Adrian Aucoin, Nikita Nikitin and John Moore is far from the worst in the NHL and certainly holds its own against the majority of the NHL’s forward corps. You’ll note that second overall pick Ryan Murray hasn’t even been plugged into this depth chart and is polished enough to play for Canada at the World Championships. Making the Blue Jackets shouldn’t be much of a problem. Methot, while a good player, was expendable — though how his absence affects Wisniewski and Moore, his most common defence partners, remains to be seen.
After a sound hockey move to get him into the fold, Columbus locking up Foligno at $3.05 million per season is great value for the Blue Jackets.
In terms of comparable cap hits, the Foligno deal aligns well with similar players. The most similar cap hit to Foligno, per CapGeek, is Patric Hornqvist. Hornqvist certainly brings more goal scoring up side to the table — he’s already a 30 goal scorer in his career and fell just short of doing it again in 2011-12; kudos to Nashville for an excellent value signing — but the point totals are similar. Foligno is coming off of a career high in points at 47, and Hornqvist is generally money in the bank for ~50. Both players bring similar two-way games to the table and have grit to spare.
So long as Foligno stays consistent offensively in what, we may presume, will be an enhanced role from what he held down in Ottawa, the point totals should match his 2011-12 output, and could very well go north of 50.
To further juxtapose Foligno’s contract — the Blue Jackets will absolutely get more per dollar out of Foligno than the Montreal Canadiens will out of Brandon Prust’s $2.5 million deal. Prust is a nice player, but Foligno is a heck of a discount by comparison. If we want to go further down the line we can also take a look at Foligno’s former teammate Carkner who has a $1.5 million cap hit. It’s possible to argue that Foligno is literally double what Carkner is worth, and quite convincingly at that.
With an ever-expanding cap now at $70.2 million, Foligno’s $3 million cap hit is barely a blip, and hardly the type of deal that will handcuff Columbus going forward. All of this for a player who is capable of giving valuable top six minutes on a team desperate for guys who bring that to the table.
During an offseason — and tenure, for that matter — in which Scott Howson can’t seem to do anything right, this move was the right one.