For years, the Blue Jackets have been searching for help down the middle with those moves largely not panning out. Now, with the team entrenched in a rebuild, Aaron Portzline of The Athletic suggests (subscription link) that they may back off of that approach now. With the selections of Kent Johnson and Cole Sillinger at the draft, the hope now is those two will represent their future at center, lessening the need to try to trade for a significant replacement. Portzline also notes that GM Jarmo Kekalainen has spoken about the ability to take on a bad contract to add other pieces for a rebuild. While such a move hasn’t happened yet, that could change depending on what happens in training camp as more players re-sign and injuries start to strike, potentially creating the need for some teams to move out money quickly.
More from the Metropolitan Division:
- Islanders forward Anders Lee believes that he has fully recovered from his torn ACL from late last season but he has not yet received full medical clearance, relays Newsday’s Andrew Gross. The captain was limited to just 27 games in 2020-21 due to the injury sustained in mid-March but he still managed to notch 19 points along the way. He could line up alongside Kyle Palmieri this coming season; Palmieri was initially acquired using the space created by Lee’s LTIR placement but re-signed earlier this summer.
- With the Rangers having extra depth on the left wing, GM Chris Drury acknowledged to reporters, including Newsday’s Colin Stephenson, that the team is considering shifting one of Artemi Panarin, Chris Kreider, or Alexis Lafreniere to the off-wing to ensure all of them play in the top six this coming season. If it happens to be Lafreniere that shifts over to give him a more prominent role, it’s possible that New York’s top three right wingers are him, Kaapo Kakko, and Vitali Kravtsov, all recent first-rounders. The last two will be restricted free agents next summer and will be hoping for bigger roles themselves in order to boost their negotiating leverage.