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Free Agent Frenzy 2012

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

Happy Canada Day!

First off, we wish a very happy Canadian holiday to all of our friends north of the border (and to the Canadians who now make their home in the United States). We're less than an hour away from the start of NHL free agency, and what better way to track all of the action than with the CBJ Today?

The wildly unpredictable news and chains of events are what make this day so exciting. There are big names available every year, and 2012 is no different. Where will star winger Zach Parise sign? What about top defenseman Ryan Suter, or underrated offensive defender Matt Carle of Philadelphia? How will the goaltending market shake out?

These are questions that, while not guaranteed to be answered before the close of July 1, will dominate conversation around the NHL landscape as we move along.

On the homefront: the Blue Jackets made a pair of signings last night -- one restricted free agent and one of their own pending unrestricted free agents. Jared Boll was re-signed to a two-year contract worth a total of $2.1 million, or an annual cap hit of $1.05 million. He will make $950,000 in 2012-13, and $1.15 million the following season.

Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson also announced the signing of defenseman Nick Holden to a one-year, two-way (NHL/AHL) contract. Holden -- who had RFA status heading into the offseason -- was not tendered a qualifying offer last week, but he and the club were able to work out a contract to bring him back into the fold for another season.

Much like he did two years ago, Holden should figure into the mix for one of the final two spots (7-8) on the defensive depth chart in Columbus. If he doesn't make the club out of training camp, he will return to the Springfield Falcons and provide solid leadership for Brad Larsen's team.

We've kind of set the stage here, but stay tuned to BlueJackets.com, @BlueJacketsNHL on Twitter and the CBJ Today all day long -- this is always one of the most fun days of the offseason. Enjoy it!
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