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Mixer's Mailbag: Offseason Vol. 4

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

Thanks to all who submitted questions for the offseason's fourth #CBJ mailbag. Hopefully, we'll get together every Thursday/Friday and I'll answer your questions, so send them to @RobMixer anytime.

Michael Gerschutz (@mikeGerschutz)
#CBJ mailbag: Any ideas of when season opener will be? Would like to suggest them as a wedding gift.

We don’t have an exact date yet, Michael, but usually the NHL releases the coming season’s schedule in late June or early July. Typically the regular season (in a normal, uninterrupted year) begins in early October – so the Blue Jackets’ home opener date could be around that time, or if they start the season on the road, perhaps a bit later. So, to answer your question, you’re looking at some time in mid-to-late October.

Colin Madigan (@CMAD77)
With the Cardale-Noah feud, I wonder, which player rivalry on the CBJ is your favorite? Dubi-Crosby? Prout-Lucic? Or another?

Tough question. I wish we had more player vs. player rivalries, ala Crosby vs. Ovechkin from a few years ago, but even that's tapered off a bit.

Aside: the Cardale Jones Twitter trolling of Joakim Noah is pretty awesome.

*THAT BEING SAID*

Obviously, the Dubinsky vs. Crosby matchup in the playoffs last year gained a lot of attention and if I have to pick one rivalry, I’d say that’s the most intriguing. The two teams are divisional rivals, there’s some bad blood between them, and so far, Dubinsky has done a nice job shutting down Crosby when the Penguins and Blue Jackets get together. Add in that scrap they had earlier this year, and I think this rivalry is the most entertaining one.

Jason Liebert (@jel779)
Murray is a RFA next season. How will this play out? A bridge contract but how can we pay him big $? What if he has 1 good season?

For one, there’s no rush. There’s a strong possibility that both sides could opt to let 2015-16 unfold, see what happens, and then start negotiations. As long as he’s got a new deal by July 1, 2016, what’s the difference?

They could go the bridge route, which seems to be management’s preference with RFAs and their second contracts. Atkinson, Calvert, Johansen, Bobrovsky…all of these guys were RFAs and got two or three-year deals. Show us what you can do, and as Jarmo Kekalainen said, “make us pay.” Murray’s had some tough luck with injuries, but the Blue Jackets know well what kind of player he is (he’s a very good player) and they want to keep him in the fold long-term.

Erick Marcucci (@believeland19)
Who's a potential target/available for the CBJ in the upgrade phase?

I’ve always felt, heading into this summer, that the trade market is where the Blue Jackets could be the most active. But if that feeling is anything like my playoff predictions, the team will sign 11 free agents.

I’m kidding, obviously.

There are a lot of forwards under contract, the team would like to upgrade on defense, and depending on what happens with UFA-to-be Curtis McElhinney (nothing to report at this time), there’s a chance they could be in the market for a backup goaltender. So I think you can connect the dots here and see what’s possible, but as far as names go, it’s way too early to tell. After the playoffs wrap up and teams take stock of where they’re headed – which is usually in the weeks leading into the NHL Draft – we’ll have a better idea, and I’m sure the rumor mill will be ripe with speculation along the way. Stay tuned!

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