NHL Free Agency: Columbus Blue Jackets Sign James Wisniewski, Continue Makeover

Franklin SteeleAnalyst IIJuly 1, 2011

PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 12:  James Wisniewski #20 of the Montreal Canadiens skates against the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 12, 2011 at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

By signing James Wisniewski for six years, the Blue Jackets continue to make moves to shake up their squad and bring a legitimacy that has eluded them since their inception.

The list of things that the Jackets desperately needed to take care of during this offseason was nothing new:  No. 1 center, puck-moving blueliner and a solid goaltender.

Two for three isn't too bad. 

Especially when the players being used to fill those gaps are guys like Jeff Carter and now, James Wisniewski.  While some folk don't believe that Carter is the top-line center the Jackets have been searching for, he is the best option at pivot in the franchise's short history.

Carter centering Nash is a draw to other free agents as well—something it seems few took into consideration following the trade.

But in an interview with TSN during their Free Agent Frenzy broadcast, he said that he found that move to be an attractive one, and a sign that management was pushing to get better.  This is a young squad with a lot of potential talent.

With Wisniewski, Columbus lands a talented, tough blueliner that they have been pursuing since Mike Commodore tanked.  He's a power-play specialist (words that may seem foreign to Blue Jacket fans) with a big shot, and outstanding vision that will be a boon on that top unit. 

And the Jackets are one step closer to being competitive in the ultra-tough Western Conference. 

The deal may seem a bit steep, but the message to fans and opposing teams is clear:  They're working on building a winning foundation in Columbus.  The more players they can add of this caliber, the more attractive the team will seem to free agents and even the players they draft.

The team is much better now than it was at this same time last year—heck, they're a lot better than they were at this time last month.  Wisniewski can come into the team as a young stud defenseman, and anchor that blue line for the next half-decade.

There's no reason Columbus shouldn't be excited by this signing.  I expect after a few months of play to see Wisniewski sweaters start popping up across the city and at home games as he continues to evolve into a top-pairing defenseman.