The Columbus Blue Jackets aren’t waiting around to see if Andrew Peeke can replicate his breakout season. The team has signed Peeke to a three-year contract extension through the 2025-26 season, which will carry an average annual value of $2.75MM.
The 24-year-old defenseman was scheduled for restricted free agency next summer and would have been arbitration-eligible.
Peeke, the 34th overall pick from 2016, became a regular last season for the Blue Jackets in the absence of Seth Jones, and was quite effective in his heavy defensive role. Logging more than 21 minutes a night while playing in all 82 games, he registered 169 blocks and 191 hits, seeing more short-handed time than anyone else on the team.
Notably, while given a bit more offensive freedom at the World Championships, Peeke led all U.S. players with six assists. If he can continue to improve that side of his game, while remaining a defensive stalwart, a contract like this will represent something of a bargain for the Blue Jackets.
Already, $2.75MM is very reasonable for a defenseman just entering his prime on a team that is trying to be competitive. The question now will be whether or not the team can afford to extend Vladislav Gavrikov, Peeke’s regular defense partner. Gavrikov is an unrestricted free agent next summer and will likely require a raise on his $2.8MM cap hit, but the Blue Jackets don’t have a ton of extra money after spending so much on Johnny Gaudreau and Erik Gudbranson this offseason.
For Peeke, this deal ensures his place on the team and will walk him directly to UFA status in a few years. While he may have been able to secure a bit more had he gone the arbitration route for each of his RFA seasons, he’s now locked into a full-time spot without any further negotiations.