Two long-time veterans seem to be on the outside looking in this offseason as the Columbus Blue Jackets as both defenseman Jack Johnson and center Brandon Dubinsky struggled last season and saw little to no playing time in the playoff. Johnson didn’t play in any of the Blue Jackets playoff games against Washington, even though they lost four in a row. Dubinsky ranked 10th among forwards in average ice time and only played 4:09 in the final playoff game.
While the team is highly unlikely to bring back Johnson as he is an unrestricted free agent and Columbus is overloaded in solid blueliners, Dubinsky is another situation, according to Aaron Portzline of The Athletic (subscription required). The 32-year-old still has three years remaining on the six-year deal he signed in 2014 at $5.85MM AAV. He is the third-highest paid player on the team behind goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and winger Artemi Panerin. Portzline writes that with his drop in production this year (16 points compared to 41 in 2016-17), the veteran has no trade value and a buyout at this stage isn’t worth it. That means the team is stuck with him and only a renewed effort by Dubinsky could regain him his old role.
- The Athletic’s Scott Powers (subscription required) writes the Chicago Blackhawks, who will pick eighth overall in the 2018 NHL Draft, the highest they’ve drafted since they chose Patrick Kane with the first overall pick in 2007, might be looking for the most NHL ready player when they pick. “You never know,” head coach Joel Quenneville said after the season ended. “You can’t discount that. They say that there’s a lot of good players in this year’s draft. Getting a player at the number is going to be a good opportunity for our scouts, there’s some excitement in that area.”
- Previously rumored, but Sportsnet’s Rick Dhaliwal reports that Vancouver Canucks prospect Elias Pettersson and backup goaltender Anders Nilsson have each made the preliminary roster for Sweden for the World Championships this summer in Denmark. Pettersson, the team’s first-round pick in 2017, who had the best season ever for a 18-year-old rookie in the SHL, is expected to compete for a roster spot with the Canucks in training camp.
- There were a few surprises Saturday when the U.S. released their preliminary roster for the World Championships this summer when Buffalo Sabres’ Casey Mittelstadt wasn’t on the roster. The Buffalo News’ John Vogl reports that Mittelstadt didn’t make the roster due to the fact that he’s battling a groin injury, although general manager Jason Botterill said it wasn’t serious. “It’s a groin, but it shouldn’t be anything more than a couple weeks,” Botterill said. “But obviously with the tournament starting next week, it just didn’t make any sense for him to go over there.”