With the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline approaching at 3 p.m. ET on Monday, Feb. 29, NHL.com is taking a close look at what moves teams might be looking to make and whether they'll be buyers or sellers. Today, the Columbus Blue Jackets:
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
Record: 21-28-6, 47 points; 8th in Metropolitan Division; 9th in Eastern Conference Wild Card
Unrestricted free agents: Rene Bourque, RW; Justin Falk, D.
Restricted free agents: Boone Jenner, LW; William Karlsson, C; Seth Jones, D; Ryan Murray, D; Dalton Prout, D; Anton Forsberg, G.
Projected 2016 draft picks: 5 (1 first)
Projected 2017 draft picks: 7 (1 first)
Needs: First-line center, top-four defenseman
Surpluses: Veteran depth forwards
Players potentially in play: Scott Hartnell, LW; Fedor Tyutin, D; Gregory Campbell, C; Jack Johnson, D.
Likely status: Seller
Skinny: Columbus has taken several steps back this season from the progress made under the regime of president John Davidson and general manager Jarmo Kekalainen. A historically poor start (0-8-0) destined the Blue Jackets for a lottery pick in the 2016 NHL Draft. It's a far different feeling than they had entering the season, when confidence was high for a second Stanley Cup Playoff appearance in three seasons. Although the roster shouldn't be blown up, the need to jettison veteran players likely will result in an active February for the Blue Jackets. In return, they'll want picks and prospects to complement a stable of young players such as Jenner, Murray, Jones, Karlsson and forwards Alexander Wennberg, Brandon Saad and Kerby Rychel. But what they really need is a top-notch center to replace Ryan Johansen, who was traded to the Nashville Predators for Jones on Jan. 6. The hard-nosed Hartnell, 33, will bring the most in return. His 36 points lead Columbus, and his 18 goals are tied for second with Cam Atkinson behind Saad's 19. Tyutin, 32, is getting less playing time under coach John Tortorella as the youth movement kicks in, but he still has value. Although the Blue Jackets aren't putting Johnson, 29, on the block, they'll listen to any offers that could potentially help them in the future. He and Tyutin each will make more than $4 million next season. Campbell, 32, can be had for a lot less and is serviceable on faceoffs and the penalty kill. The remaining forwards are probably safe for now, including Rychel, who in his second season has been the center of speculation about his desire to leave. However, he's earned a regular spot and has impressed Tortorella with his play, not an easy feat. In a perfect world, the Blue Jackets would somehow find a suitor to take the hefty contract ($5.25 million per season through 2019-2020) of oft-injured forward David Clarkson, but that's unlikely to happen. One area where the Blue Jackets seem secure is goaltending. With Sergei Bobrovsky and Curtis McElhinney injured, rookie Joonas Korpisalo has developed into a legitimate NHL goalie, and rookie Anton Forsberg has shown promise as well.