James Wisniewski was reportedly eager to sign with Columbus once Montreal traded his negotiating rights to the Blue Jackets earlier in the week. Now the defenseman has signed a contract that will reportedly pay him $33 million across six years to play in Ohio's capital city.
"My family and I are really excited to be a part of the Blue Jackets organization and I'm looking forward to getting to Columbus to help this team win games," Wisniewski said in a press release. "I think this is a team that is ready to take the next step and I'm excited to help us become a winning team and a Stanley Cup contender."
Wisniewski is only 27 and is coming off the best season of his career. He had 51 points (10 goals, 41 assists) in 74 games combined between the New York Islanders and Montreal Canadiens. The Habs traded his negotiating rights for a seventh-round draft pick in 2012 on Wednesday, but with the condition that if Wisniewski signs with Columbus the compensation would increase to a fifth-round pick.
"James is a player we identified very early on and we are thrilled to have him as a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets," Columbus GM Scott Howson said in the press release. "He brings offensive skill and grit to our blue-line, character to our dressing room and will be a key contributor to our hockey club."
Wisniewski has also played for Chicago and Anaheim. He has 148 points and 302 penalty minutes in 329 games since making his NHL debut with the Hawks during the 2005-06 season.
Chicago traded Wisniewski on March 4, 2009. The Ducks held on to him until July 30, 2010, when they shipped him to the Islanders for a conditional third-round draft pick. The Islanders then traded Wisniewski to Montreal for a second-round draft pick and a conditional fifth-round pick on Dec. 28, 2010.
Wisniewski becomes a key cog in what is expected to be a rebuilt blue line in Columbus. Fedor Tyutin, Kris Russell and Grant Clitsome are under contract while Marc Methot is a restricted free agent.
The Blue Jackets may still re-sign Jan Hejda, but it appears he is heading to the open market at 12 p.m. ET on Friday.