The NHL All-Star Skills Competition is scheduled for this evening, and though Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon have both pulled out due to illness and injury there are still an incredible amount of talented players taking part. Most notable however may be the final entrant in the fastest skater competition: Kendall Coyne. A member of the US Women’s National Team, Coyne will take MacKinnon’s place after the Colorado Avalanche forward suffered a foot injury this week. The Olympic gold medalist is known for her speed and posted a 14.226 yesterday during event testing according to Emily Kaplan of ESPN. Though that wouldn’t have been enough to dethrone Connor McDavid last year, it would have put her ahead of Zach Werenski, Noah Hanifin and Josh Bailey in the competition. We’ll see what Coyne can do tonight, along with the rest of the competitors:
The Washington Capitals look like they can breathe a sigh of relief as goaltender Braden Holtby was at practice Sunday after Columbus’ Cam Atkinson accidentally put his stick through a hole in Holtby’s mask into his left eye, forcing him to leave the game. It’s still unclear if the goaltender would start against St. Louis on Monday, the first of a back-to-back set, according to Isabelle Khurshudyan of the Washington Post.
“Obviously anything with your eyes is a little scary,” Holtby said. “It’s fortunate that it wasn’t anything too serious. You just move on. … I didn’t have the sight to keep going. I just wouldn’t have been a benefit to the team. it was one of those things. Eyes heal quickly, so just 24 hours and I’ll be back to normal.”
The incident on the ice Saturday in the second period and the immediate thought looked scary with many worrying that the team’s star goaltender could miss a significant amount of time. However, it looks like the injury isn’t as serious as originally thought. Head coach Todd Rierden said that the team doesn’t intend to recall a goaltender from the AHL at this moment with the general belief that the team could start Pheonix Copley Monday and start Holtby on Tuesday against Nashville on Tuesday.
- While there have been reports out of Pittsburgh that the team may be ready to move a defenseman, Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes that general manager Jim Rutherford may also be ready to move third-string goaltender Tristan Jarry as well. The 23-year-old and second-round pick in 2013 is a solid prospect, but with 24-year-old Matt Murray locked in as the starter and the fact that backup Casey DeSmith was recently extended for another three years, Jarry could be a nice trade chip. He has one more year at $675K before he hits restricted free agency, although his two-way deal will turn into a one-way deal next season. NBC Sports’ Adam Gretz adds, however, that goaltenders don’t often bring a lot back in trades, pointing out that Filip Gustavsson was a better prospect and he was just one part of a package to get Derick Brassard last season.
- Sam Carchidi of Philly.com writes that Philadelphia Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk has a 50-50 chance of playing Monday after being banged up Saturday against New Jersey. Van Riemsdyk, who has struggled with injuries as well as production, had one of his better games of the season, playing 17:01 and scoring a goal and adding an assist, despite the loss. The 29-year-old has two goals and two assists in the last two games.
- Newsday’s Andrew Gross reports that New York Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey, who has missed 11 straight games with an upper-body injury, has had a slowdown in his recovery, according to head coach Barry Trotz. Hickey has been skating on his own, but was held out of the team’s last full practice on Wednesday. “We want to do what’s best for the player,” Trotz said. “I don’t know if it’s a setback. We just want to be cautious with it. He’s real important for us and we’re not trying to rush him at all. We back him off a little bit and that’s on trainers’ orders.”
The NHL has announced the four rosters for the 2019 All-Star Game today, scheduled to be held on January 26th in San Jose. Earlier today, Alex Ovechkin, who was elected captain of Metropolitan Division squad, told the league that he wouldn’t be attending and will accept the punishment of missing one game either before or after the break. Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon, and Auston Matthews will represent the Pacific, Central and Atlantic respectively, as the other captains. A replacement Metropolitan captain for Ovechkin has yet to be named.
The full rosters are as follows:
*Denotes team captain
One final skater spot on each roster has yet to be announced, as it will be determined by the “Last Man In” fan ballot, a concept borrowed from Major League Baseball. The format of the current All-Star Game, which requires one representative from each team on these smaller 3-on-tournament rosters, was bound to cause some confusion with the initial selections. Seven top-twenty scorers were not selected – Mitch Marner, Brayden Point, Leon Draisaitl, Sean Monahan, Matthew Tkachuk, Phil Kessel, and Gabriel Landeskog – and several will inevitably remain out of All-Star participation even after the fan ballot additions. Morgan Rielly, the league’s top-scoring defenseman, and Mark Giordano, enjoying an elite season on both sides of the puck, are two surprising omissions on the blue line. Several of the league’s top goalies are also going to miss out, ineligible for the fan ballot, including Ben Bishop, Frederik Andersen, and Andrei Vasilevskiy. The “Last Man In” will be an intriguing new addition to the All-Star process, with nominees to be named shortly, but more than a few notable names will be left out regardless. Meanwhile, the health of players like Price and Chabot for Team Atlantic and Hall for Team Metropolitan will bear watching, as those players may opt to skip the All-Star festivities, opening up more players to selection.
As the holiday season approaches, PHR will take a look at what teams are thankful for as the season heads past the one-quarter mark. There also might be a few things your team would like down the road. Let’s take a look at what’s gone well in the early going and what could improve as the season rolls on for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
What are the Blue Jackets most thankful for?
There has been a dark cloud around the Blue Jackets at the start of the season with two of their best players suggesting they would rather be elsewhere (I’ll talk about that later) and then a significant injury to top defenseman Seth Jones, who tore a ligament in his knee during the preseason and missed the first month of the season. Throw in a disappointing season the previous year from players such as Zach Werenski, Alexander Wennberg, Brandon Dubinsky and Boone Jenner and many wondered whether the franchise might take a step back this season.
Instead, the Blue Jackets have played quite well and stand in second place in the Metropolitan Division with a solid 15-9-2 record this season. Several players have stepped up and the team has gotten solid goaltending. With a solid defense and lots of offense, the Blue Jackets look like a team that will contend and hopefully can make a deep push into the playoffs as the franchise hasn’t gotten out of the first round since the 2008-09 season.
Who are the Blue Jackets most thankful for?
Not more than a year ago, Columbus handed Cam Atkinson a seven-year, $41.1MM extension and he responded with a disappointing season, posting a pedestrian 24 goals and 46 points, the lowest of his career since the 2014-15 season. With a number of veterans struggling after being handed long-term deals (Dubinsky, Wennberg), many wondered whether the Blue Jackets made a mistake when they inked the then 28-year-old to such a long extension.
Fast forward one year and Atkinson is proving his value with a banner season so far. He has already scored 16 goals and 27 points in 25 games and looks to be developing into a point-per-game player, which would blow away any previous career highs. His team-leading five power play goals and two short-handed goals prove he has become the team’s most valuable player on the team so far this season amongst a large number of big names.
What would the Blue Jackets be even more thankful for?
While the team has got some secondary scoring, the team keeps hoping to turn some players’ careers around. The team signed Anthony Duclair to a one-year deal in hopes of developing him into the player everyone thought he would develop into. The Blue Jackets also had high hopes that Oliver Bjorkstrand would develop into a top-six player. While Duclair has already put up eight goals this season, he’s fallen into head coach John Tortorella’s doghouse and is has only scored one goal in the last eight games. Bjorkstrand, on the other hand, has struggled all year having scored just two goals along with two assists. Both are now fighting it out between each other for who gets a spot on Columbus’ third line. Hopefully, one of those player can distinguish themselves and take their game to a new level.
What should be on the Blue Jackets Holiday Wish List?
The team has a pair of major concerns on their roster with Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky about to hit unrestricted free agency at the end of the year. Both players have expressed a desire to play elsewhere, which could be devastating to the franchise. With the team unwilling to trade them off if they are in the hunt as the team values taking the team on a deep playoff run over trading them both off and rebuilding their roster again, there is a good chance the team will hold onto them. Panarin has expressed a desire to be in a bigger city, while Bobrovsky is looking for a record-breaking contract even bigger than that of Carey Price’s eight-year, $84MM deal that he signed last summer.
General manager Jarmo Kekalainen hopes that a winning culture can convince each of them to remain with the team so the team can finally make a Stanley Cup run that the franchise needs for its fans. Even if the team can retain one of them, that would be a big boost for the franchise which would likely fall flat without both of them.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The NHL has released their Three Stars of the week, and Cam Atkinson will take home the top spot this time around. The diminutive Columbus Blue Jackets forward scored five goals and eight points in three games and is now producing at more than a point-per-game pace for the season. The 29-year old Atkinson is trying to put his injury plagued 2017-18 season behind him and get back to the 35-goal scorer he showed capable of being the year prior.
Corey Crawford and Joe Pavelski arrive at second and third respectively, and it’s the former whose performance is so impressive given his long way back from injury over the last year. Crawford now sits with a .922 save percentage on the season and is one of the sole reasons the Blackhawks are still within striking distance of a playoff spot in the Central Division. A team that has already fired their legendary coach and replaced him with the youngest bench boss in the league, Chicago will need Crawford to continue his strong play if they’re to have any chance at a postseason berth this year.
- Auston Matthews was back on the ice with the Toronto Maple Leafs this morning, and he wasn’t wearing the red no-contact jersey. While the Maple Leafs have made no indication that Matthews will be back ahead of schedule, his presence with the team can only give them another morale boost as they try to reclaim the top spot in the Atlantic Division. Even without their young superstar—and his usual linemate William Nylander, who is still without a contract—the Maple Leafs sit at 14-6-0 on the year and have the second best goal differential in the entire NHL.
- The Calgary Flames have inserted rookie Dillon Dube into the lineup 15 times this season, but have given him more than 13 minutes of ice time in only three of those contests. Still with just two points on the season, Dube is looking for his first NHL goal and a way to establish himself as a bigger presence at both ends of the ice. That opportunity is tough to carve out when the team has such solid depth up front, something that head coach Bill Peters is aware of. Speaking to reporters including Kristen Anderson of Postmedia, Peters explained that the team will soon have to decide whether keeping Dube in the NHL only to play a few minutes a game is really the best for his development. Instead, the team could send him back to the AHL where he has still yet to play a full season.
The Washington Capitals have that unusual circumstance where they are coming off winning the Stanley Cup, but are also breaking in a new coach. With Barry Trotz headed to New York, the team replaced him with long-time assistant coach Todd Reirden. NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti writes that the new head coach intends to make some changes to a team that returns everyone with the exception of fourth-line center Jay Beagle and backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer.
“In particular, I would say from the 63 to 65-game range on we really adjusted a few things that helped us defend better and set us up for better success defensively and our numbers followed, especially in the playoffs,” Reirden said. “So those things for the most part 5-on-5 will stay. … There will be some adjustments a little bit in some areas. Special teams in particular in the penalty kill area would be something that we’ll be making some adjustments to.”
Reirden, known as a players’ coach when he was an assistant, says that he believes that connecting with players is critical of being a coach and said he doesn’t intend to change now that he’s finally got his chance to be a head coach.
“I would say that everyone has to be a player’s coach in some respects today to be able to maximize the players,” Reirden said. “I think some of the success I’ve been able to have in the development of players over the last eight, nine years has been off of being able to relate to different players and put them in a situation where they’re in a challenging environment.”
- Columbus Blue Jackets’ forward Cam Atkinson expects a more impressive season out of himself this year after struggling through multiple issues early in the season last year, according to the Columbus Dispatch’s George Richards. The 29-year-old forward started slow after signing a seven-year, $41.13MM extension last season and then suffering through a broken bone in his foot. However, the veteran looks at his success after his return that suggests he will have a big year for the Blue Jackets this year. Atkinson, who started the first 32 games with just six goals and 13 points, went on a tear after that, finishing the season (65 games total) with 24 goals and 46 points, meaning he tallied 18 goals in the second half. “There’s no doubt in my mind that is the Cam we’re going to see,” said assistant general manager Bill Zito. “He’s such a talented player. He has the skills, the temerity to get out of a rut. He has a lot of weapons — he has a great shot, can skate, has a great hockey sense and likes to score. He likes it and is confident enough to know he can score.”
- Former New Jersey Devils forward Patrik Elias, who tallied 1,025 points throughout his NHL career, will be starting a new venture as he intends to get into coaching, according to Elite Prospects’ Uffe Bodin. Elias has become the assistant coach for the Czech Republic’s U20 national team alongside head coach Vaclav Varada. “(Varada) approached me about three or four months ago”, Patrik Elias says, although he admits he was never interested in coaching. “Since I have the personal relationship with him and I know that he has done a really good job last two, three years as a coach, I felt that if I wanted to start up with someone, it’s good to start with someone that you trust and that can help you out. He’s been great.”
- The New York Rangers’ Vitali Kravtsov was named the best forward at the 2018 U20 Four Nations Tournament with a goal and three assists in three games. The 18-year-old was the ninth overall pick by the Rangers in this year’s draft and is expected to return to his KHL team, Traktor Chelyabinsk, as he signed a one-year deal there. The hope is Kravtsov will be ready to compete for a spot on the Rangers roster next season. Minnesota Wild’s Simon Johansson was named top defenseman, while Detroit Red Wings’ Jesper Eliasson was named top goaltender.
Navigating the Salary Cap is probably one of the more important tasks for any general manager to have. Teams that can avert total cap chaos by walking the tightrope of inking players to deals that match their value (or compensate for future value without breaking the bank) remain successful. Those that don’t see struggles and front office changes.
PHR will look at every NHL team and give a thorough look at their cap situation heading into the 2018-19 season. This will focus more on those players who are integral parts of the roster versus those who may find themselves shuttling between the AHL and NHL. All cap figures are courtesy of CapFriendly.
Current Cap Hit: $73,890,832 (under the $79.5MM Upper Limit)
The Blue Jackets got a big boost from Dubois who should provide the team with a top center for quite a long time as the 20-year-old had a solid rookie campaign as he posted 20 goals and 48 points. Those numbers should exponentially increase as he gets older, bigger and more comfortable in the league. It wouldn’t be surprising at all to see him develop into a 60-70 point player this year already. And with two years remaining, he will continue to be a bargain for some time.
Werenski had a mixed bag of a season as he saw his points totals drop from his rookie season (47 points) to his second season (37 points). Yet his goal totals increased from his rookie season (10) to his sophomore season (16). However, Werenski underwent surgery for a shoulder injury that had been causing him pain since October, suggesting he played injured all season. A fully healthy Werenski could give the team one of the top young defensemen in the league.
Milano arrived with much fanfare, but he struggled finding a permanent place in the lineup, as he often received relatively few minutes on the third line due to his struggles on defense. However, Milano showed flashes of scoring ability as the 22-year-old posted 14 goals in 55 games. With a year under his belt, Milano might be able to take those numbers to a much bigger level if he can prove he can play a two-way game for coach John Tortorella.
One Year Remaining, Non-Entry-Level
G Sergei Bobrovsky ($7.43MM, UFA)
F Artemi Panarin ($6MM, UFA)
D Ryan Murray ($2.83MM, RFA)
G Joonas Korpisalo ($900K, RFA)
F Lukas Sedlak ($825K, RFA)
F Alex Broadhurst ($725K, RFA)
F Markus Hannikainen ($675K, RFA)
D Scott Harrington ($675K, RFA)
F Anthony Duclair ($650K, RFA)
The biggest news all offseason is the fact that Panarin has told Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen says he’s not ready to discuss an extension. Despite the GM’s attempt to speak to Panarin to convince him to stay, it looks like Panarin wants to head elsewhere once his contract expires at the end of the season and he becomes a unrestricted free agent. The 27-year-old winger posted a career-high 82 points after being acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks, but seems to be looking to play in a city with a more diverse market. While there have been rumors that Kekalainen has been looking into trading options, little has come from it. The team may opt to wait until the trade deadline, but that could also lessen the return.
Perhaps more concerning is the contract situation with Bobrovsky. The 30-year-old goaltender is also in the final year of his contract. While there is no talk of leaving Columbus, the Blue Jackets have to be somewhat concerned about the veteran goaltender’s asking price. He will be 32 years old when his next contract takes effect, but Bobrovsky wants term, the team could be paying him until he’s 40 years old and it’s extremely likely that the goalie will take less money than the $7.43MM he’s making on this contract. However, that’s a lot of money to be handing out to an aging goaltender. Bobrovsky’s numbers are still good as he posted a 2.42 GAA and an impressive .920 save percentage in 63 games. However, his struggles in the playoffs isn’t working for him either. Regardless, the team could find itself in quite the contract negotiations in the coming summer.
Duclair is another interesting player, who signed a one-year deal after disappointing in both Arizona and Chicago. The 22-year-old opted to sign a minimum “show me” contract to prove he belongs in the NHL, but he’s struggled to produce over the years after a successful season back in 2015-16 when he potted 20 goals. Since then, he’s managed to post just 16 goals in two seasons. If he can find his game in Columbus, the Blue Jackets could still retain him as he’s a restricted free agent.Read more
The Columbus Blue Jackets are bringing in a familiar face in former USHL Junior Blue Jackets player Tommy Cross. The 28-year-old defenseman, a long-time Boston Bruins depth player, is also a good friend of Cam Atkinson from the pair’s time at Boston College. TSN’s Frank Servalli reports that it is a two-way deal for Cross, paying him the minimum $650K at the NHL level.
The 28-year-old has shown off his offensive game over the past couple of years with the Bruins’ AHL affiliate, the Providence Bruins. In two seasons, he’s combined for 20 goals and 71 points. However, the blueliner has not had any success cracking the Bruins lineup, even with the team’s rash of injuries in the last couple of years. He hasn’t appeared in a regular season game in two years, although he did make an appearance in a Bruins’ playoff game in the 2016-17 season.
USA Hockey announced their initial 2018 national roster for the upcoming 2018 IIHF Men’s World Championships on May 4-20 in Copenhagen and Herning, Denmark, headlined by Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane.
Kane, who announced he’d play this summer after his Blackhawks season ended with no trip to the playoffs, represented the U.S. twice in both the 2010 and 2014 Olympic Games, leading the U.S. to a silver medal in 2010, was named the captain of this team back on April 9. He will be joined by four others with World Championship experience, including Detroit Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin, New York Islanders forward Anders Lee, Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Connor Murphy and the Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau.
The one interesting roster note is the addition of 18-year-old Quinn Hughes, who is considered to be a likely top-10 pick in the upcoming NHL draft. The full roster can be found below:
Every year when a team is eliminated in the first round, calls come in from the various World Championship teams to see if they are willing (and healthy enough) to suit up for their respective countries. For the Columbus Blue Jackets, many players in the organization received those calls.
Brian Hedger of NHL.com relays the list from GM Jarmo Kekalainen. Ryan Murray (Canada), Pierre-Luc Dubois (Canada), Cam Atkinson (USA), Dean Kukan (Switzerland), Markus Nutivaara (Finland), Alexandre Texier (France) and Matiss Kivlenieks (Latvia) will all be playing in the tournament.
The appearance will be a first for Dubois, who just last season was competing for Canada at the World Junior Championship. 2017-18 saw a huge leap in his development, as he went from an inconsistent junior year to a reliable top-line center on a playoff team. With four points in his first taste of the NHL postseason, Dubois is set up for a long career of impressive moments. The 19-year old could add another one by playing a big role on Team Canada.
For Atkinson, it will be only his second appearance at the tournament despite some great seasons over the past half decade. Though he was only able to play in 65 games for the Blue Jackets this year, he once again showed that he can be a top offensive producer and earned himself a seven-year extension. Atkinson’s small stature hasn’t slowed him down against top competition, and he’ll likely be asked to play a big role for USA Hockey over the next few weeks.
The tournament starts on May 4th, in Denmark.