Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet,
Columbus is a hockey city now and the Jackets are an organization being viewed in a completely different light around the NHL. The enthusiasm was undeniable during their recent playoff run, when fans turned Nationwide Arena into the loudest building this side of the Bell Centre for a first-round series with Pittsburgh.
Remember that this is a team with just two playoff wins to show for its first 14 years in the league — both of them coming in April. To label the Jackets’ existence a test of patience would be an understatement.
However, they’ve also shown themselves to be survivors. They overcame the Carter fiasco and the subsequent departure of captain Rick Nash and were transformed into a team on the rise in relatively short order.
With Kekalainen now running the show along with president John Davidson, there is promise throughout a lineup that was once more of a punchline. In goal you have Sergei Bobrovsky, a Vezina Trophy winner not yet in his prime. There is centre Ryan Johansen, a 33-goal man at age 21, and future stalwart defenceman Ryan Murray and a roster full of underrated contributors.
Columbus press release below...
added 9:27am, Another tweet from McKenzie,
Clarification: EDM has window in which it's permissible to negotiate with CBJ pending UFA Nikita Nikitin, but no trade has yet been made.
from Aaron Portzline of Puck-Rakers,
Per his contract, Umberger presented the Blue Jackets over the weekend with a list of 10 NHL clubs two which he would not accept a trade. That leaves 19 preferred partners for Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen, but the sense around the NHL is that Kekalainen's cell phone is showing more outgoing calls than incoming calls these days.
Umberger could have listed fewer than 10 teams, but why do that? A player and his agent would wisely list as many teams as possible in an attempt to "steer" the trade to his liking. (No, we are not privy to the list.)
The Blue Jackets surely are talking to any NHL GM with ears, even those on the "NOT APPROVED" list. If the only legitimate trade offer the Blue Jackets have is with a team that Umberger has not approved (to Edmonton for Sam Gagner?), expect the Jackets to approach Umberger's camp and try to persuade them.
This will likely all have to come together by the end of the next weekend, when the NHL Draft plays out in Philadelphia.
from Aaron Portzline of Puck-Rakers,
Along with Umberger's potential trade, Johansen's resigning could be the story of the summer for the Blue Jackets. He's an RFA, yes, but he's not going to sign his qualifying offer. Don't be silly. He's going to get paid, it's just a matter of time. And team. As of July 1, all 30 teams are free to negotiate with Johansen and his agent, Kurt Overhardt. Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen said he does not see July 1 as a deadline, and he doesn't view the potential of an offer sheet as a risk. "If he signs an offer sheet, he signs an offer sheet," Kekalainen said. "Our ownership is strong, and as I said before, we would match any offer he could possibly sign. If somebody wants to waste their time and effort on that, that's fine for them. We'd just match it and keep the player."
more on UFAs and RFAs for the Blue Jackets...
from Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch,
It hurts to say it, but the Blue Jackets could have been the Rangers. Expletive deleted. This is getting tough to watch.
Locally, there is a hue and cry over Los Angeles Kings right wing Marian Gaborik, who has more playoff goals (11) than anyone this spring. Some fans think Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen gave up too much to get Gaborik (Derick Brassard, Derek Dorsett, John Moore and a sixth-round draft pick) from the Rangers.
And they think he got too little (Matt Frattin, a second-round pick and a third-round pick) when he dumped Gaborik on the Kings.
Is this Jeff Carter all over again? Are the Jackets consistently building champions — for other markets?
I don’t get too bent over Gaborik. Yes, Kekalainen gave up much to get him, but it was a noble experiment and he paid market price. No, Kekalainen did not seem to extract a large return for him, but that was the market. It was not the general manager’s most brilliant work, but Gaborik is not sticking in my craw.
Ask yourself: Are the Jackets better without Rick Nash? Would you redo that trade and give back Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon and Kerby Rychel?
from Scott Cullen of TSN,
Off-Season Game Plan looks at what the Blue Jackets may do to build upon last season's success to return to the playoffs again next year.
There's lots of reason to be optimistic about Columbus, as they have a young core, headlined by 21-year-old centre Ryan Johansen. The only expected returnees older than 30 are defencemen Fedor Tyutin and James Wisniewski. Winger R.J. Umberger is 32, but is looking to move on, so the Blue Jackets largely have a roster around which they can build for the next couple seasons.
GM Jarmo Kekalainen and head coach Todd Richards were buoyed by the Blue Jackets' progress last season, but both know that there is still much room to improve.
"We have to be careful. We want to keep our good chemistry," said Kekalainen. "We always want to bring in the right kind of people, not only as hockey players but as teammates and human beings. It's going to be an important part of our scouting manual."
COLUMBUS, OHIO – The Columbus Blue Jackets have signed Head Coach Todd Richards to a two-year contract extension through the 2016-17 National Hockey League season, club General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen announced today.
The club will hold a press conference with Richards on Wednesday, May 28 at 10 a.m. at Nationwide Arena, which will also be streamed LIVE on BlueJackets.com and the official Blue Jackets mobile app.
Richards, 47, has led Columbus to an 85-70-16 record in 171 games behind the bench, including a franchise-best mark of 43-32-7 in 2013-14. The Jackets qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second time in club history this past season and posted the first playoff wins in club history in a six-game Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series vs. the Metropolitan Division champion Pittsburgh Penguins.
“Todd has done an outstanding job for the Columbus Blue Jackets and we’re pleased that he will continue to lead our team,” said Kekalainen. “We believe he is one of the top young coaches in the NHL because of his knowledge of the game, work ethic and ability to communicate well and bring out the best in our players. He’s played a significant role in our recent success and we look forward to having him continue to be a big part of our franchise moving forward.”
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
The immediate reviews were scathing.
Nash was going to have real players to play with in Manhattan — like Brad Richards — and would be so much more than he’d been able to be in Columbus. Fifty goals was the minimum, experts figured.
The old cliché of the-team-that-gets-the-best-player-wins-the-deal was trotted out. And poor Howson was treated like a country bumpkin for his efforts, like he’d been taken to the cleaners by wily old Glen Sather.
Eight months later, Howson was fired.
Well, here we are less than two years after the trade, and suddenly Howson, now a senior executive with the Edmonton Oilers, doesn’t look quite so dumb, does he?
The Jackets are loaded with young talent, including power forward Kerby Rychel of the Guelph Storm, a likely participant in the Mastercard Memorial Cup next week who was selected with that first-round pick acquired in the Nash deal. Dubinsky was a major force in the first round against Pittsburgh, Anisimov is a regular and Erixon has earned some NHL work.
from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch,
... Kekalainen’s biggest task this summer will be dealing with the several players who need new contracts.
Johansen’s contact will be interesting to follow. At this time last year, he was a healthy scratch in an American Hockey League playoff game. But after two quiet NHL seasons, Johansen tied for 11th in the league with 33 goals, ahead of such stars as Ryan Getzlaf, Marian Hossa, Anze Kopitar, Claude Giroux and Jonathan Toews.
The Blue Jackets would prefer a three-year contract, one that would expire when Johansen can only become a restricted free agent. But there is risk in waiting too long to sign a deal this summer.
As a restricted free agent, Johansen could sign an offer sheet with any NHL team if he’s not signed by July 1. The Blue Jackets could match the offer and keep Johansen, but it’s an expensive and risky way of doing business.
And Johansen — much like Bobrovsky last summer — seems a ripe candidate for an offer sheet, given his age, skill and position.
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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