The 2019 offseason was a tough one for Columbus who saw several of their top veterans head elsewhere in Artemi Panarin, Matt Duchene, and Sergei Bobrovsky (among others as well). Defenseman Seth Jones is a year away from being able to do the same but GM Jarmo Kekalainen told Brian Hedger of the Columbus Dispatch that they won’t be allowing Jones to walk away for nothing, citing that he doesn’t see the team being in the same situation next season as they were back in 2019 when they pushed their chips to the table and had a star player who many expected to go to New York as Panarin eventually did. For now, the focus will remain on working on a long-term extension for the 26-year-old who averaged more than 25 minutes a game for the third straight season.
Elsewhere in the Central:
- Earlier this month, Red Wings winger Mathias Brome told Svenskafans’ Andreas Lundskog that he was open to returning overseas but wasn’t going to limit himself to going back to his native Sweden. It appears he’s zeroing in on the Swiss NLA as Aftonbladet’s Tomas Ros and Hans Abrahamsson report that Brome is expected to join Davos. It was a disappointing first season in North America for the 26-year-old who managed just a goal and an assist in 26 games with Detroit this season despite logging a respectable 13:39 per night. Brome is set to become a restricted free agent this summer but as he’s a year away from UFA eligibility based on his age, there’s a good chance he’ll be non-tendered if a deal overseas is finalized.
- Despite missing two of the last three games due to an upper-body injury, Florida center Sam Bennett is available for the series opener against Tampa Bay, notes Jameson Olive of the Panthers’ team site. The 24-year-old made an immediate impact after being acquired from Calgary at the trade deadline, picking up six goals and nine assists in just ten games, beating his output with the Flames despite playing in 28 games more with Calgary. Meanwhile, Olive also relayed (Twitter link) that winger Patric Hornqvist is ready to return after missing the final seven games of the regular season with an upper-body injury of his own.