Kukla's Korner Hockey
COLUMBUS, OHIO - The Columbus Blue Jackets have traded right wing Adam Cracknell to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for future considerations, club General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen announced today.
Cracknell, 29, recorded an assist and two penalty minutes in 17 games with the Blue Jackets and added 3-4-7 and two penalty minutes in 18 games with the American Hockey League’s Springfield Falcons this season after being claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings on October 7. The Prince Albert, Saskatchewan native has appeared in 82 career NHL games with Columbus and St. Louis, registering 6-11-17 and 14 penalty minutes.
from Aaron Portzline of Puck-Rakers,
“I haven’t really at any time wanted to be traded,” Wisniewski said. “I’ve always wanted to be a Columbus Blue Jacket. I love it here. As of right now, I’m a Columbus Blue Jacket. I’m here to win hockey games.”
more and other Columbus notes...
Told James Wisniewski's list of 10 no-trade teams was put together in a way to make it more difficult for #CBJ to trade. In other words ...
... teams with no cap room and no need for offensive defensemen were approved, while teams with glaring need/cap room were on no-trade list.
from Aaron Portzline of Puck-Rakers,
Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski, a healthy scratch on Sunday vs. the New York Rangers, expects to be back in the lineup tonight against the Buffalo Sabres in Nationwide Arena.
But he might not be wearing the Blue Jackets sweater much longer, if the club gets its wish.
Wisniewski has a modified no-trade clause in his contract, by which he can list the 10 teams to which he would NOT approve a trade. The Blue Jackets requested that list from Wisniewski last Monday, Feb. 17.
That leaves 19 teams to which Wisniewski can be traded, and two sources told The Dispatch last night that the Blue Jackets are shopping Wisniewski.
"I want to be here," Wisniewski told The Dispatch this morning. "They know I want to be here."
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
If a team dying to add a defenseman asked about veteran James Wisniewski (who has two more years left on his deal after this season carrying a $5.5 million cap hit), my guess is the Jackets would listen.
But you don’t get the sense, unlike with many of the non-playoff teams, that an overhaul is coming. This is a good team that simply has a dark cloud hanging over it this season.
"I don’t think we’re in a situation where we need to blow things up or anything like that, not from a contractual point of view or any other point of view," Kekalainen said. "I think that we’ll just evaluate whatever opportunity might come our way before the deadline."
from Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch,
As our Aaron Portzline has pointed out, the Jackets have better odds of winning the draft lottery than they do of making the playoffs.
Winning the draft lottery would be the best thing that happened to them since overtime of Game 4 at Nationwide Arena last spring. It would be much better than moving up two, three or four places now and lessening their chances at drafting Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel.
Management will never say that, and the players will not even consider it. But, for the love of Alexandre Picard, the fans know it to be true. They have been through this too many times.
Through their first 13 seasons, the Jackets’ average conference finish was 12th place.
Their average first-round draft slot has been between No. 7 and No. 8. They are 0 for 12 in draft lotteries, which is just about impossible.
To put this in contemporary terms: The 2015 draft is said to be 10-deep on high-end talent, so the Jackets are not in a bad position right now. But they would be better off if they sank, rather than climbed, in the standings.
from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch,
It’s way too early to say if Nathan Horton is on the road to a full recovery from his debilitating back condition, the Blue Jackets cautioned.
But Horton’s presence at the morning skate on Thursday and his general outlook and attitude when he lunched with members of the front office this week have raised optimism that his career might not be finished.
Horton did not speak to the media on Thursday, and his agent, Paul Krepelka, said all comments on his situation would come through the Blue Jackets. President of hockey operations John Davidson said Horton had a “little light in his eye” when they had lunch with general manager Jarmo Kekalainen.
“There’s been some progress there. He is feeling a little better,” Davidson said. “I don’t know what that means in the big picture, but he’s better now than he was earlier this season. His whole attitude was different — better — than the last time we saw him.”
Coach Todd Richards chatted only briefly with Horton on Thursday, he said.
“In my heart, I’ve always believed he’s going to play again,” Richards said. “I still feel that way.”
from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch,
“We have 37 games to go,” general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said. “We have to win 25 of them to give ourselves a chance. That puts us in the mid-90s (in points).
“It’s not going to be easy, we know that. But we’ve done it before.”
The Blue Jackets have ended the past two seasons on stunning runs, barely missing the playoffs in 2013 and finishing as the No. 7 seed last season.
They recently tore through December with a 10-1-1 record.
“It’s in us,” right wing Jared Boll said. “We’ve shown we can do it.
“We’re not happy where we’re at. And it doesn’t look good, if you do the math. But we know it’s possible. It’s just important for every guy in this room to do more, to play better. We have to bring it every night.”
There are two huge hurdles in front of the Blue Jackets.
They are a whopping 14 points behind eighth-place Boston in the Eastern Conference, an almost insurmountable deficit even though they played three fewer games than the Bruins.
from Micael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch,
Some All-Stars, such as Sidney Crosby, suddenly get injured. Others, such as Brian Elliott, have no problem leaving a Caribbean isle when the call comes. The vast majority show up, do their bit for the sponsors, fill up recycling bins with plastic cups at the player draft and generally make a good time of it.
And then there is Sergei Bobrovsky. This game meant more to him than the Columbus Chamber of Commerce, or all of Latvia.
Bobrovsky was to make his first All-Star appearance Sunday night at Nationwide Arena, his building. Rarely do stars align like this for any player, anywhere. Never will they again for Bobrovsky.
Bobrovsky’s father flew in from Siberia to witness another crowning moment for a son whose first set of pads were homemade. It was all so perfect. And everyone knew how it would end, with Nick Foligno throwing a bear hug on Bob in front of a standing-room crowd and an international television audience.
It is not to be. A day before the All-Star break, Bobrovsky suffered an injured groin. He is a scratch — for another month, at least. There went the weekend.
from Matt Larkin of The Hockey News,
Sergei Bobrovsky’s misfortune looks like the last straw for Columbus in 2014-15. He’d already missed time with a fractured finger and brief illness, and his lower-body injury Wednesday night against the Winnipeg Jets looked grim. The extent won’t be clear until his MRI results come in, but Bobrovsky had to be helped off the ice.
Now it’s time for GM Jarmo Kekalainen to swallow his pride and realize this season wasn’t meant to be. If Bobrovsky is seriously hurt, it’s obviously a knockout blow for a team 14 points out of a playoff spot. And if the injury is, say, a minor sprain, there’s no reason to rush back a precious commodity freshly signed to a four-year, $29.7-million contract extension. The Jackets are finished.
The important thing to realize: that’s totally OK. The future remains extremely bright. Columbus was simply dealt a bad hand this season. Kekalainen and John Davidson have built a well-rounded, gritty, improving team. Ryan Johansen continues to look like a star, and Nick Foligno has taken his game to a new stratosphere. Murray has shown flashes of a Ryan Suter-like upside at just 21 and has plenty of time to improve if he can stay healthy. This team has a lot of young help on the way, too. Alexander Wennberg, 20, hasn’t made waves as a rookie but is a dynamic young prospect, likened to Henrik Zetterberg. Guys like Kerby Rychel, Oliver Bjorkstrand and Marko Dano look good, too. There’s no denying flashy Sonny Milano has a sky-high ceiling, even if he was a risky first-round pick last June.
Kekalainen’s next move should be to assess what pieces of his roster are expendable and can be used to secure more long-term assets before the trade deadline.
from Shawn Roarke of NHL.com,
In a week's time, Columbus gets to put its hockey growth in front of fans of the NHL when the All-Star Game comes to Nationwide Arena.
The growth of the Blue Jackets, who are again morphing into a team to be respected across the rest of the League after its playoff showing last year and weathering those early-season injuries to key players, will be in the narrative.
The hockey infrastructure also will be part of the tale that needs to be told during hockey's midseason gala.
But the growth of Columbus as a city and supporter of professional hockey will be perhaps the most evident story of the weekend.
The fans who crammed Nationwide Arena last spring proved this is a major-league city that has allowed the Blue Jackets to ease, ever so slightly, the stranglehold enjoyed here by the Ohio State football program.
Word is getting out, louder and faster by the day, that hockey is a big part of the fabric.
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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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