Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Bob Hunter of the Columbus Dispatch,
Hartnell is happy to be here only because he believes the Blue Jackets have a chance to be good for several years, and he sees himself playing a key role in that. That starts with beating a Pittsburgh team that knocked the Jackets out of the playoffs.
“The Pens are not my favorite team, probably by far,” he said. “I think they’re only a couple hours drive from Columbus, so I’m excited to stir that pot a little bit and get under Crosby’s and Malkin’s skin and frustrate them like I usually do.”
More than two months before the start of the season, the trade of R.J. Umberger to the Flyers for Hartnell looks like a home run.
The task of meeting his new teammates has already begun for Hartnell, who said he had dinner in Columbus recently with center Brandon Dubinsky.
It was Dubinsky's arrival two years ago with center Artem Anisimov and defenseman Tim Erixon in a trade that sent captain Rick Nash to the New York Rangers that effectively launched the turnaround in Columbus. It continued last summer with the seven-year, $37.1 million contract signed by forward Nathan Horton, who was limited by injuries to 36 regular-season games.
With Horton expected to be healthy in training camp this season, Hartnell is looking forward to getting started with the Blue Jackets, who still have yet to name a captain two years after trading Nash.
"You add a healthy Horton into the mix and bring myself in, it's almost two new players to come in and be effective," Hartnell said. "It's a great team. On paper we match up against anybody in the East. I don't think anybody expected the Rangers to go to the Final last year, so the East is pretty wide open. After a couple of days of mulling this whole thing over, I've had a smile ever since saying I was going to be a Blue Jacket."
Hartnell met with the Columbus media today, you can watch below...
“It’s his presence and his experience, I think what he fits in to, as well, is a nasty style that we can play. He’s a goal-scorer. It’s something that teams have to know where he is because he’s someone who has really proven himself in his career to be a goal-scorer.
"So, he becomes a threat, and the more threats you have out on the ice, the better, because more teams have to pay attention to that.”
-Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Todd Richards on Nathan Horton. More on Horton from Alex Busch of BlueJackets.com.
from Aaron Portzline of Puck-Rakers,
The Blue Jackets and restricted free agent center Ryan Johansen may still be a long way from a new contract. But after weeks of silence there has been significant progress.
Johansen's agent, Kurt Overhardt, recently extended a second contract offer to the Blue Jackets, sources have told The Dispatch. It's a two-year contract, or a "bridge" deal -- the type Johansen called a "slap in the face" late last month.
The term of the contract -- the player demanded a long-term contract, the Blue Jackets insisted on a shorter deal -- was the major stumbling block in these negotiations dating back to April.
"Ryan wants to be a Blue Jacket and he wants to be in Columbus," said Overhardt, who declined to discuss the negotiations. "That has never been an issue in any of this. He loves it there.
"This is a team that I think now is being recognized not just as a team that is young and up-and-coming, it's a pretty good hockey club. We have a chance here to make a real good statement with this upcoming season," Davidson told the Blue Jackets' website. "I like this hockey club. I like it a lot. I like its character, I like the way it plays, I like the intestinal fortitude it has, I like how it sticks up for each other. I like all aspects of it. We have a chance to be a very good club."
-John Davidson, President of Hockey Operations for the Columbus Blue Jackets. More, including video at NHL.com.
from Aaron Portzline of Puck-Rakers,
Question: Brandon, can you speak to what the almost two years have been like since you were traded here, in terms of what you thought you were getting yourself into vs. how this has turned out?
Answer: When I first got traded here, I tried to come in here with an open mind. We made some other moves (that summer under former GM Scott Howson) that I thought made this team better. I just firmly believed our team was better than they’d performed a year prior. I didn’t come in here thinking I was going to the worst team in the league. I came in with an open mind and a great attitude and I found out we had a great group of guys who are willing to play hard for each other. We started building really from the day I got here to where we are now.
Q: You're in a position now that's new to you in the NHL, where you're a leader on this club and a big part of the foundation. Obviously you're a player they want to be part of this organization for a long time. What's that say to you?
COLUMBUS, OHIO – The Columbus Blue Jackets have signed center Brandon Dubinsky to a six-year contract extension through the 2020-21 National Hockey League season, club General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen announced today. As is club policy, further terms were not disclosed.
Dubinsky, 28, has registered 99 goals and 184 assists for 283 points with 631 penalty minutes and a cumulative plus/minus rating of +31 in 498 career NHL games, including 18-52-70, 174 PIM and a +7 plus/minus rating in 105 games during the past two seasons with the Blue Jackets. He has also tallied 8-15-23 and 52 PIM in 37 career postseason games after leading Columbus in assists and tying for second in points with 1-5-6 and six PIM in six games during the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“Brandon brings tenacity and determination to our team every time he takes the ice and he’s been an integral part of our growth and success over the past two years,” said Kekalainen. “Thanks to the commitment and support of our ownership group, we are excited that Brandon will continue to be an important part of the Blue Jackets family for many years to come.”
from Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch,
Last weekend, Ryan Johansen told The Dispatch that the Blue Jackets’ offer of a bridge contract was a “slap in the face.” Let us think on this.
A bridge contract is a short-term deal designed to set up a lucrative, long-term deal down the road. Johansen is 21. He will be eligible for unrestricted free agency when he is 26. If he signs a two-year bridge contract, he can pump up his resume and use the specter of looming, unrestricted free agency as leverage in 2016.
A slap in the face is when someone opens his or her hand and uses said hand to swiftly smack the cheek of a surprised victim.
Ah, contract negotiations. They are a hoot.
from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch,
Now that negotiations between the Blue Jackets and their leading scorer, Ryan Johansen, have dragged into July, the 21-year-old center is free to negotiate with all 30 NHL teams.
That sounds terribly risky for the Blue Jackets, and nothing worries fans or agitates general managers more than the thought of a budding star — a player they drafted and developed — signing an offer sheet with another team as a restricted free agent. Johansen had 33 goals and 30 assists last season.
But here’s the reality: Offer sheets are rare, and they are rarely successful at poaching another team’s player.
from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch,
Ryan Johansen spent the past two days camping near his home in British Columbia, and the Blue Jackets spent the past two days adding a new wave of talent to the organization at the NHL draft.
But these are not peaceful, happy times for either party.
Contract negotiations between the Blue Jackets and their top offensive player are going nowhere, even after a meeting this weekend in Philadelphia between Johansen’s agent, Kurt Overhardt, and assistant general manager Bill Zito.
The road block to further negotiations appears to be the term.
“We’re not even close,” Johansen told The Dispatch. “They say ‘We want to sign you to a ‘bridge’ deal.’ We say ‘We don’t want to do a ‘bridge,’ and that’s the end of it.”
The Blue Jackets want to sign Johansen to a two- or three-year contract, which would expire when he still was a restricted free agent.
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
The move will make the Flyers worse in 2014-15. The 32-year-old Hartnell, once the top-line running mate for Claude Giroux, could fill the same role for franchise center Ryan Johansen. If ex-Bruin Nathan Horton gets healthy, the three strongmen could join forces to create a mammoth No. 1 line for the Blue Jackets.
“I think he plays exactly the way we want the Blue Jackets to play,” Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said in a news conference following the trade. “He’s hard to play against. When you talk about him as an opponent — you talk to a lot of different sources around the league, people that I know and people he’s been associated with — they all say the same thing: You hate to play against him, but you’d love to have him on your team. That’s the way we feel about him. He was a tough opponent. Somebody you always noticed and somebody you hated from the press box, but you always thought you’d like to have him on your team.”
When power forwards such as Hartnell are in their groove, they are game-changers. They strike fear in defensemen who panic about black eyes and broken noses when they retreat for a puck. Their brawn allows their team to cycle the puck low, tire opponents, and rack up scoring chances. They make their linemates braver.
There is a reason Milan Lucic scored a $6 million annual payday when his previous contract expired. It’s the same reason Horton, Lucic’s former partner in crime, landed a seven-year, $37.1 million blockbuster last summer. And it’s the same reason David Clarkson swiped a seven-year, $36.75 million bonanza from the Maple Leafs.
It’s a case of supply and demand. There are very few players who can skate, score, hit, and fight. There are even fewer who can fulfill those tasks as the odometer reaches higher numbers.
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About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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