- In an appearance on 97.1 The Fan (audio link), Blue Jackets head coach indicated that forward Nick Foligno is expected to return to the lineup on Thursday night. He has missed the last four games while his daughter underwent surgery. The 31-year-old will be a welcome addition back to the lineup as he sits fifth on the Blue Jackets while ranking fourth among Columbus forwards in ice time.
Blue Jackets Rumors
The NHL trade season is upon us with only seven weeks until the deadline and teams falling out of the playoff race. With that, Craig Custance of The Athletic (subscription required) broke down his list of 20 players who could be on the move before February 25th. At the top of the list is Artemi Panarin, who is still without a contract extension as we head into the second half of the season. The Columbus Blue Jackets are trying to make a deep Stanley Cup run and have perhaps the toughest decisions in the league with Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky set to hit unrestricted free agency.
Deeper down the list though Custance provides some details on asking prices, explaining that a deal to acquire Jake Muzzin from the Los Angeles Kings would need to start with a first-round pick while Alec Martinez might cost just a second-round pick and a good prospect. The Kings still sit at the bottom of the Pacific Division and are the only NHL team to have scored fewer than 100 goals this season. There are changes coming for Los Angeles, but in a “strong buyers market” it will be interesting to see how much they really get back for some of their trade assets.
- Last week’s Three Stars have been revealed by the NHL, with Johnny Gaudreau taking home the top honors. Gaudreau recorded 11 points in four games and has led the Calgary Flames all season. Brent Burns takes home the second star, but most interesting might be Robin Lehner in the third position. Lehner looked to be on the brink of losing his NHL career when he went unqualified by the Buffalo Sabres, but has turned things around dramatically this season with the New York Islanders. With a .927 save percentage there is good reason to believe that Lehner could be one of the top goaltending options on the market this summer after his one-year deal expires, unless the Islanders can lock him up over the next few months.
- Noah Dobson might be best known to many hockey fans for his stick exploding in overtime for Canada in the recent World Junior Championship, but he’s also a dominant defenseman and leader in the QMJHL. The Islanders prospect is on the move thanks to a junior deadline deal that will send him to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies for the remainder of the season. The Huskies sent three first-round picks and a second-round pick for the right to acquire Dobson, who will give them another huge weapon on their quest for a Memorial Cup berth. The trade deadline for the OHL and WHL meanwhile passes on Thursday, meaning many more top prospects will be on the move.
On the last day of 2018, 26 of the league’s 31 teams will be in action. The day starts with an epic matchup between the Nashville Predators and Washington Capitals, and ends with a pair of Western Conference battles that could have a big impact on the playoffs. While teams prepare for 2019, we’ll keep track of all the minor moves they make today.
- The Columbus Blue Jackets have recalled Eric Robinson from the minor leagues, after a great start from the former Princeton University standout. Signed last spring as an undrafted college free agent, Robinson played in one game down the stretch for the Blue Jackets but was held scoreless. That hasn’t been the case very often in the minor leagues, where the 23-year old forward has recorded 19 points in 33 games and is tied for second on the team in goals with 10.
- C.J. Smith is on his way up to the Buffalo Sabres, recalled from the AHL today. Smith has followed up an outstanding first professional season with 29 points in 33 games this year, and is tied with Victor Olofsson for the Rochester Americans scoring lead. The 24-year old has two NHL games under his belt, but is still waiting to score his first goal at the highest level.
- The Washington Capitals are preparing for the return of Brooks Orpik by assigning Tyler Lewington to the AHL’s Hershey Bears, his NHL stint over for now. Lewington played two games for the Capitals and actually recorded two points, also getting into a fight to kick off his NHL career.
- Nicholas Baptiste is on his way up to the Nashville Predators, the first time he’ll be part of an NHL locker room that doesn’t belong to the Buffalo Sabres. Baptiste, 23, has 14 points with the Milwaukee Admirals this season after being acquired from the Sabres in early October.
- While they deal with a lengthy injury to Dustin Byfuglien, the Winnipeg Jets will rely on their defensive depth to keep them afloat in the Central Division. Relying on that depth means Sami Niku is headed back to the NHL, where he could see some additional playing time. Niku played in five games earlier this season for the Jets but is still looking for his first point of the year.
- The Toronto Maple Leafs have recalled Trevor Moore under emergency conditions once again, and the young forward will continue to fill in for the injured Zach Hyman and Tyler Ennis. Moore has two points in his first three NHL games and has injected some more speed into the Maple Leafs’ fourth line.
- Egor Yakovlev has played 11 games with the New Jersey Devils this season, but for now he is heading back to the minor leagues. The team sent Yakovlev down before their afternoon tilt against the Vancouver Canucks.
- The Ottawa Senators have officially placed Christian Jaros on injured reserve, according to CapFriendly. Jaros broke his finger while in a fight with Islanders’ Ross Johnston Friday and will be out for a month. The team already placed Thomas Chabot on IR further weakening the team’s defense.
- He’s already playing, but before the game today, the New York Rangers activated defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, according to CapFriendly. The 29-year-old was expected to miss two to four weeks with a separated shoulder, but has returned closer to the two-week mark. The veteran has struggled with injuries since signing with New York in the summer of 2017. Shattenkirk has appeared in 29 games this season, but has clashed at times with new head coach David Quinn, and is playing a career-low 18:23 of ATOI this season. He will attempt to boost those numbers again now that he’s healthy.
- The Minnesota Wild announced they have assigned veteran defenseman Matt Bartkowski to the Iowa Wild of the AHL after their 3-2 loss to Pittsburgh today. That could suggest that defenseman Nick Seeler will be ready to return to the team for Thursday’s game at Toronto. Bartkowski played in two games filling in, scoring a goal Saturday.
Beginning this off-season, the rumblings that star forward Artemi Panarin did not want to resign with the Columbus Blue Jackets created the impression that a blockbuster trade was inevitable prior to the end of this season, when Panarin becomes an unrestricted free agent. That no longer appears to be the case. In the midst of another strong season for both Panarin and his team, the high scoring winger is hoping to stay in Columbus through the end of the season, his agent, Dan Milstein, told TSN’s “Leafs Lunch” on Friday. Panarin is also reportedly opening up to the idea of an extension with the Blue Jackets.
Milstein stated that he and Panarin plan to meet over the All-Star break in late January to discuss the future. Part of that conversation will be about a potential long-term fit with the Blue Jackets. “He likes it in Columbus. They have a very good, young team… Management has been nothing but great to him…. He wants to help the team to win the Stanley Cup”, Milstein said. Panarin is a very competitive player and Milstein made it clear that last season’s early playoff exit bothered the all-world winger and he hopes to lead the team deeper into the postseason this year. There is also the potential for a long-term fit in Columbus, as Milstein applauded the efforts of young center Pierre-Luc Dubois and said that Panarin has enjoyed playing alongside him this season. While Panarin leads the Jackets with 41 points, the sophomore centerman is not far behind with 32. The promise of that pairing moving forward could be a vital factor in Panarin’s decision.
However, other teams and their rosters will certainly be considered. Milstein was honest that he and Panarin will likely begin discussing his potential fits with other teams when they meet next month. Panarin, still just 27, will likely be the most sought-after forward on the free agent market if he opts to leave Columbus and could pick almost any team to play for given his unique skill set. It has previously been reported that Panarin prefers to play in a coastal metropolitan area, with many speculating that the three New York-area teams, all of whom are in comfortable salary cap situations, are possible fits, while Boston, Florida, Carolina, or one of the three California teams would also be logical landing spots. The competitive Panarin also wants a chance to win the Stanley Cup. Even though he will almost certainly sign a seven-year contract at a minimum and a lot can change in that time, teams’ recent success and talent pool moving forward will also weigh heavily on his decision. As Milstein stated, they believe that the Blue Jackets are one of those talented, young teams that will be a contender moving forward.
One thing that will not affect Panarin’s decision is the future of Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, at least not in a personal sense. Although the two are good friends, Milstein said that “they are in no way going to be going as a package”. Bobrovsky appears to be headed for the free agent market, but his likely departure does not necessarily mean that Panarin will leave Columbus simply because his friend is gone. However, how the Jackets plan to handle the massive hole that Bobrovksy would leave in net will definitely be a part of Panarin’s calculations.
Whatever conclusions that Panarin and Milstein come to when the meet in January, if any, the fact remains that in the short-term Panarin is focused on winning with Columbus and that is likely enough to convince Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen to hold on to his top scorer in hopes of making a title run. “Hopefully he’ll play through the end of the season, will help them get deep into the playoffs and perhaps help them win the Stanley Cup”, Milstein said, “That’s the immediate goal.” This should come as good news for Jackets fans, who can rest easy about their best player, at least until July 1st.
Barring a move late tonight or tomorrow, the NHL’s Holiday Roster Freeze will go into effect without any of the anticipated trades. The roster freeze begins at midnight local time tomorrow, December 19th, and lasts through to December 28th. During that time, the only transactions that teams may make are promotions, as trades, waiver placements, and demotions are all prohibited. Generally, teams see this as a deadline to make any acquisitions they feel they might need to survive a stretch of more than a week during which they are more or less locked in to their current lineup. This year, both the Philadelphia Flyers and Los Angeles Kings expressed interest in making a move prior to the holiday freeze, while other teams have been active on the market as well, but time is running out. Right now, it appears as if the first “deadline” of the season is going to be a quiet one.
- One team discouraged by a lack of trade activity are the New York Islanders. The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch writes that new GM Lou Lamoriello would like to be active on the market, but hasn’t gotten much of a response from potential partners. The Islanders are in an interesting situation right now; the team is currently contending for a playoff spot nearing the midway mark of the season, but also have several pending UFA assets that could draw considerable interest at the trade deadline if they have slipped in the standings. Lamoriello is likely looking to add some depth pieces sooner rather than later in hopes of improving his postseason odds and getting a more clear picture of whether his team will be buyers or sellers in a couple months. Whether the market simply isn’t there or whether rival GM’s are avoiding making deals with Lamoriello, a famed NHL wheeler and dealer, the Islanders are not getting the traction on the trade market that they had hoped, but will continue to be a team to watch after the holiday roster freeze expires.
- Garrioch adds that Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen is also frustrated with the current state of the trade market. Although Columbus is playing well this season, currently in second place in the Metropolitan Division, the team is unhappy with young center Alexander Wennberg, who has just one goal and 16 points through 33 games. Kekalainen has reportedly been actively offering Wennberg in trades, but hasn’t been receiving the level of interest he expected. Wennberg is only 24 and had a 59-point season just two years ago, but his long-term contract worth nearly $5MM per season against the cap is a major stumbling block for interested teams, especially if he’s already in early decline. Columbus has more than a few intriguing trade chips if they do choose to sell, but the Blue Jackets could be actual contenders this season if they instead retain the likes of Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky and can add a substantial piece or two in return for Wennberg.
The Boston Bruins versus the Montreal Canadiens in the middle of December. You can’t get much more classic than that when it comes to the NHL, making tonight some must-see television for hockey fans. The two clubs will take part in one of five games scheduled this evening, before the week really kicks off tomorrow night. As always, we’ll be here keeping track of all the minor moves.
- The Columbus Blue Jackets have recalled Dean Kukan from his conditioning stint in the AHL, where he registered two points in five games. The 25-year old defenseman will try to work his way back into the Blue Jackets lineup and help push them closer to a 2019 playoff berth.
- Zach Sanford is on his way back up to the St. Louis Blues after a very short minor league trip. The young forward was assigned to the San Antonio Rampage on Saturday, but is already back up after the Blues were pummeled by the Calgary Flames yesterday.
- Matt Tennyson has been reassigned by the Buffalo Sabres and will be heading down to the AHL to join the Rochester Americans. The Sabres made several adjustments to their defense corps this weekend, including recalling Brendan Guhle and putting Lawrence Pilut on injured reserve. Tennyson has been bouncing up and down all season, and will likely be up again before long.
- Cory Schneider has been placed on injured reserve with an abdominal strain, leading to a recall of Mackenzie Blackwood from the minor leagues. Blackwood has good numbers in the minor leagues but has yet to make an appearance at the NHL level.
There has already been quite a few moves this morning from teams welcoming back or saying goodbye to key players, but with the NHL heading towards the middle of the season there will be many more. As always we’re here to keep track of all the minor moves:
- The Chicago Blackhawks have recalled Dylan Sikura and Carl Dahlstrom from the minor leagues while assigning Alexandre Fortin to the Rockford IceHogs. The team also placed Artem Anisimov on injured reserve while he deals with a concussion. Sikura, a standout at Northeastern University over the last several seasons, is off to a great start in his rookie season in the AHL, scoring 18 points in 26 games.
- Rourke Chartier is on his way back up to the San Jose Sharks, recalled today from the AHL. The 22-year old forward has played 13 games for the Sharks this season, recording his first NHL goal but failing to register another point. The fifth-round pick has found some early success in the minor leagues, but will have to continue to prove himself if he wants a full-time role in the NHL.
- Jordan Kyrou has been assigned to the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage, leaving the St. Louis Blues after a short call-up. Kyrou, a top prospect in the Blues’ system, has yet to prove that he belongs at the highest level despite some prime opportunities. The young forward will continue his development in the AHL for the time being, while St. Louis gets Jaden Schwartz back into the lineup.
- The Los Angeles Kings have moved Alec Martinez to injured reserve, while recalling Daniel Brickley from the minor leagues. Brickley signed as an undrafted free agent out of Minnesota State University-Mankato last spring, has just 22 professional games under his belt so far, all but one coming at the minor league level. The 6’3″ defenseman needed an opportunity to show what he could do at the NHL level, and Martinez’ injury may just be that chance.
- Paul Carey is on his way down to the AHL, as the Ottawa Senators announced that they have reassigned the veteran to Belleville. The free agent addition was only recalled on Sunday and did not see the ice with the Sens. Carey has only five NHL games to his credit this season, all back in October, and no points to show for it either. The two-way forward has been close to a point-per-game player for Belleville in 20 games, but Ottawa seems hesitant to give him much of an opportunity just yet.
- The Columbus Blue Jackets will take another look at veteran forward Zac Dalpe, who they have recalled from the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters. Dalpe has been with the club for more than two years and played in twelve games with Columbus last year, but has only one NHL appearance so far this season. Dalpe has been remarkably productive in Cleveland, with 25 points in 24 games, but has struggled to translate his production to the top level throughout his nine year career. The Blue Jackets will see if he can be more than just a body on this most recent promotion.
- After adding Chad Johnson on waivers, the Anaheim Ducks have sent goalie Jared Coreau back to the AHL, the team announced. In exchange, they have called up rookie defenseman Josh Mahura from the San Diego Gulls. Mahura has already logged six games with the Ducks in his first pro season and could see more opportunity on this latest recall.
It’s a quiet Friday night in the NHL with just four games on the schedule, but many eyes will be watching the Carolina Hurricanes and Anaheim Ducks after yesterday’s TSN reporting. Both teams are apparently looking for upgrades, and will get a first hand look at some potential options when they meet in California. As for the rest of the league, we’ll keep track of all the minor moves right here.
- After serving as insurance last night for the Columbus Blue Jackets, Gabriel Carlsson is on his way back to the minor leagues. The 21-year old has played just one game with the NHL club this season, but is a useful waiver-exempt option for them to help out whenever they have a need. Carlsson will eventually need some extended playing time with the Blue Jackets, but it doesn’t appear that is imminent.
- Matt Tennyson and Scott Wedgewood have been recalled by the Buffalo Sabres, despite the team announcing that Carter Hutton’s absence from practice yesterday was just maintenance. It’s unclear what this means for the Sabres game tomorrow night, but the team at least feels that it needs some insurance in net. Tennyson has been used in this way already this season, and now that Jake McCabe and Casey Nelson are out week-to-week he may stay with the club for a while.
- Jean-Sebastien Dea is in the NHL once again, taking the place of Dominik Simon on the Pittsburgh Penguins roster. Simon has been moved to injured reserve, while Dea returns to the team that he made his NHL debut for. After taking a quick trip to New Jersey through waivers and playing 20 games for the Devils, Dea was reclaimed by the Penguins in late November. He’s registered two points in two games with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins since rejoining the organization.
- The Winnipeg Jets have activated Dustin Byfuglien and Dmitry Kulikov from injured reserve, while designating Andrew Copp there instead. The team will welcome two defenders back as they try to continue their pursuit of the Nashville Predators in the Central Division.
- Phil Varone has been recalled by the Philadelphia Flyers, perhaps to give the team an offensive boost after dropping last night’s game against Columbus. Varone is the reigning AHL MVP after recording 70 points last season, and is off to an even better pace this year. The 28-year old has played just 50 NHL games in his career.
- Austin Wagner is heading to the Ontario Reign of the AHL for the time being, assigned by the Los Angeles Kings today. Wagner played 18 games with the Kings this year, but now that Nikita Scherbak has been cleared to return to action he’s no longer needed.
- Riley Barber has been recalled by the Washington Capitals, giving them another option at forward for their game tomorrow evening. T.J. Oshie, who is still dealing with a concussion has been moved to injured reserve to make room. The Capitals are certainly not at full strength while Oshie and Tom Wilson remain out with head injuries, but it is to the benefit of Barber who will try to impress the coaching staff during the short stint. The 24-year old forward has just three NHL games under his belt but is working on a great start to the season in the AHL.
- Nick Paul is on his way up to the Ottawa Senators once again, already his seventh transaction of the season. The 23-year old forward is the definition of an insurance plan for the Senators so far this year, getting into six games but playing the majority of his season in the minor leagues. The 6’3″ forward has 11 points in 15 games in the AHL, but is still looking for his first goal in the NHL this year.
Though all of the turmoil that gone on in Philadelphia this season, injuries may be the least appreciated. One of those injuries that has had an effect on the team this year has been that of Samuel Morin, who underwent knee surgery in May and hasn’t been on the ice since. Today that all changed, as according to Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Morin got back on the ice with teammates today for the first time.
Morin, 23, was the 11th-overall pick in 2013 but has played just three NHL games so far in his career and saw his 2017-18 season decimated by injury. If he can get back this season—the team expects some time in February—there’s a good chance he would be an immediate upgrade on their blue line and could offer a stylistic counterpoint to some of the team’s more offensive options.
- The Flyers’ opponent tonight will be without one of their leaders, as the Columbus Blue Jackets announced that assistant coach Brad Shaw was hospitalized and will not be at the game. Shaw became ill yesterday, and the team relayed it is an abdominal issue keeping him out. He’ll be replaced by skills coach Kenny McCudden behind the bench tonight, but will rejoin the team when he is able.
- The Buffalo Sabres were missing quite a few players from practice today, but luckily it was just a maintenance day for Zach Bogosian, Jack Eichel and Carter Hutton. Not so lucky were Jake McCabe and Casey Nelson, who have been ruled “week-to-week” in their recoveries from upper-body injuries. The Sabres are back in action on Saturday night when they’ll welcome Philadelphia into town.
After a quiet Wednesday night in the NHL the league scheduler is back in action with 11 games on tap for tonight. That includes some prime divisional matchups in the Eastern Conference and a big game between the Minnesota Wild and Calgary Flames. While we wait for the action to get started this evening, we’ll keep track of all the minor roster moves made ahead of time.
- The Detroit Red Wings have recalled Brian Lashoff in time for their game tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs. With Danny DeKeyser’s recent hand injury, the team was left with just six healthy defensemen for the game. It’s unlikely that Lashoff is inserted into the lineup, but will serve as insurance in case anyone is injured over the next few hours.
- Meanwhile, the Columbus Blue Jackets have recalled their own defenseman, as Gabriel Carlsson is on his way back to the NHL. Carlsson has played just a single game for the Blue Jackets this season, but is a huge part of their future blue line plans after being selected in the first round in 2015. His long reach and defensive ability should come in handy if the team puts him into the lineup right away.
- In a somewhat surprising move, the Dallas Stars have sent Roope Hintz to the AHL. If the move is anything more than a paper transaction to save some cap space during a day between games, it makes the loss of Gemel Smith on waivers even more questionable. The Stars were already carrying just 22 players after the loss of Smith, meaning they could activate Martin Hanzal from long-term injured reserve.
- Nelson Nogier made his season debut for the Winnipeg Jets this week, but is already on his way back to the minor leagues. The Jets made the move earlier today, expecting one of their regular defensemen to be ready when they get back on the ice. Nogier will surely get another chance, but for now will have to continue his development in the AHL.
- Matt Beleskey is on his way back to the Rangers who announced that they have recalled him from Hartford of the AHL. His stint in the minors was short-lived as he was sent down back on Sunday. The veteran has played just once with New York this season but has been productive in the minors with nine points in 14 games.