The Columbus Blue Jackets are interested in acquiring a scoring forward, according to general manager Jarmo Kekalainen, as told to Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch.
Kekalainen stated that the club was going to accomplish this goal whether it came via free agency or trade. Under the new collective bargaining agreement, teams are permitted to begin negotiations with prospective unrestricted free agents beginning at 12:01 a.m. ET on July 3. With that window open, Kekalainen plans to reach out to players who can help increase the team's production.
The manager was unwilling to discuss specific players but -- as Portzline notes -- the market includes names such as Damien Brunner, Danny Briere, David Clarkson, Nathan Horton, Ryane Clowe, Valtteri Filppula and other viable options.
The team has a simple enough strategy for this offseason. They will be ranking the available options and will express interest. If the player doesn't have the same interest, the Blue Jackets will remove him from their list and move to the next highest ranked player. Kekalainen says the team is unlikely to spend to the upper-limit of the $64.3 million salary cap in 2013-14, which leads Portzline to believe the club will attempt to sign a player for $4 million to $5 million per season.
In the event that free agency doesn't satisfy their needs, the Blue Jackets are open to pursuing a trade. Based upon Kekalainen's statements, it sounds as though he would prefer to add via the free agent market, via the Columbus Dispatch:
"When you trade, you're talking about giving up some kind of a commodity, maybe a player off your roster. The benefit of free agency is you just get the player. But we'll go about this however we have to. There are lots of options."
Free agency officially begins at noon ET July 5. Teams can come to terms with players before that date, but can't formally sign agreements until then.