COLUMBUS, OHIO – The Columbus Blue Jackets have signed defenseman James Wisniewski to a six-year contract, club Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Scott Howson announced July 1. As is club policy, terms were not disclosed. The Blue Jackets acquired Wisniewski’s rights from the Montreal Canadiens for seventh round pick in the 2012 Entry Draft on Wednesday. With his signing, that pick now becomes a fifth round selection in 2012.
"James is a player we identified very early on and we are thrilled to have him as a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets," said Howson. "He brings offensive skill and grit to our blueline, character to our dressing room and will be a key contributor to our hockey club."
Wisniewski, 27, has registered 27 goals and 121 assists for 148 points with 302 penalty minutes and a +5 plus/minus rating in 329 career NHL games with the Canadiens, New York Islanders, Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks. Last year, he combined for 10-41-51 and 38 penalty minutes in 75 games with the Islanders and Canadiens, including 7-23-30 and 20 penalty minutes in 43 games with Montreal. He tied for fifth among NHL defensemen in points and was seventh in assists in setting career highs in goals, assists and points.
"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," said Wisniewski. "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."
Chicago's fifth pick, 156th overall, in the 2002 Entry Draft, Wisniewski (pronounced wihz-NOO-skee) spent most of five seasons in the Blackhawks organization from 2004-09. After making his professional debut in 2004-05 with Norfolk (American Hockey League) and splitting the next two campaigns between the NHL and AHL, he tallied 7-19-26, 103 penalty minutes and was +12 in 68 games with Chicago in 2007-08.
He combined for 3-21-24, 30 penalty minutes and was +9 in 48 games with Chicago and Anaheim and added 1-2-3 and 10 penalty minutes in 12 playoff games after joining the Ducks on Mar. 9, 2009 in a trade that sent current Blue Jacket Samuel Pahlsson from Anaheim to Chicago. In his first full season with the Ducks, he collected 3-27-30 and 56 penalty minutes in 69 games in 2009-10 before being acquired by the Islanders in July 2010.
The Canton, Michigan native has also represented Team USA at a pair of World Junior Championship tournaments and at the 2008 World Championships. In 2003, he tallied 0-4-4 and six penalty minutes in seven games in his WJC debut. The following year, he picked up 2-3-5 and four penalty minutes in seven games to help Team USA win the gold medal. At the 2008 World Championships, he had 1-2-3 and six penalty minutes in six games.
Wisniewski played four seasons with the Ontario Hockey League’s Plymouth Whalers from 2000-04. He registered 52-135-187 with 295 penalty minutes and a cumulative +125 plus/minus rating in 217 career OHL games. In his final OHL season, he racked up 17-53-70, 63 penalty minutes and was +31 in 50 games. He earned OHL First All-Star Team and Canadian Major Junior All-Star Team honors that season and was the Canadian Major Junior Defenseman of the Year.
Full and partial season ticket plans for the Blue Jackets’ 2011-12 season are on sale now starting at less than $15 per game. Plan holders receive significant savings versus single game prices, exclusive access to events with players and coaches and more. Flexible payment plan options are available. For more information, call (800) NHL-COLS or visit BlueJackets.com.