Columbus Blue Jackets
Los Angeles Kings
Tampa Bay Lightning
Columbus Blue Jackets
Los Angeles Kings
Tampa Bay Lightning
After failing to receive a qualifying offer from the Columbus Blue Jackets, Kevin Stenlund has found a new home. This year he’ll be under contract with the Winnipeg Jets, where he has inked a one-year, two-way deal worth $750K.
After notching 10 points in 32 games in both 2019-20 and 2020-21 for Columbus, Stenlund saw his role vanish in 2021-22, tallying no points in just three games. He produced a somewhat underwhelming 25 points in 48 AHL games with the Cleveland Monsters, too, capping off a rough year for the 25-year-old Swedish forward.
He’ll likely head to Manitoba (if he clears waivers) for the beginning of 2022-23, and he’ll surely get a top-six role there in order to help recapture his confidence. If he does, he has the potential to be a dependable depth option at the NHL level.
It’s been a tumultuous start to the season for Max Domi, and he now finds himself on the sidelines once again. The Columbus Blue Jackets forward has been placed in the COVID protocol and is out indefinitely. The team has recalled Kevin Stenlund to take his place on the roster.
According to Aaron Portzline of The Athletic, Domi tested positive on Sunday and will be out at least ten days. He is currently in New York City, while the team traveled to Denver after last night’s game.
Domi already missed four games earlier this season with a fractured rib, but made his return a few days ago. In four games on the season he has four points, with his only goal coming in his season debut last month. The 26-year-old forward is averaging just over 13 minutes a night, by far the lowest ice time of his career to this point.
Stenlund meanwhile has yet to play a game for the team this season after suiting up 32 times in 2020-21. The 25-year-old center cleared waivers just before the start of the season and has three points in seven games for the Cleveland Monsters.
Oct 11: Barre-Boulet, Brooks, Brown, and Jonsson-Fjallby were all claimed, but the other 39 players cleared and can be assigned to the minor leagues.
Oct 10: On the final day to waive players before opening-night rosters are due, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports these 43 players have been placed on waivers:
F Sam Carrick (ANA)
D Jacob Larsson (ANA)
F Axel Jonsson-Fjallby (BUF)
D Eric Gelinas (CAR)
D Maxime Lajoie (CAR)
F Josh Leivo (CAR)
F Stefan Noesen (CAR)
F C.J. Smith (CAR)
D Gabriel Carlsson (CBJ)
D Mikko Lehtonen (CBJ)
F Kevin Stenlund (CBJ)
G Collin Delia (CHI)
G Malcolm Subban (CHI)
D Jacob MacDonald (COL)
D Alexander Petrovic (DAL)
F Riley Barber (DET)
F Taro Hirose (DET)
D William Lagesson (EDM)
F Kyle Turris (EDM)
D Lucas Carlsson (FLA)
G Christopher Gibson (FLA)
D Austin Strand (LAK)
F Austin Wagner (LAK)
F Frederik Gauthier (NJD)
G Connor Ingram (NSH)
F Michael McCarron (NSH)
F Andrew Agozzino (OTT)
D Nick Seeler (PHI)
F Alex Barre-Boulet (TBL)
D Fredrik Claesson (TBL)
D Andrej Sustr (TBL)
F Adam Brooks (TOR)
F Justin Bailey (VAN)
D Madison Bowey (VAN)
F Phillip Di Giuseppe (VAN)
D Travis Hamonic (VAN)
F Sven Baertschi (VGK)
F Patrick Brown (VGK)
F Gage Quinney (VGK)
G Zachary Fucale (WSH)
F Garrett Pilon (WSH)
D Nelson Nogier (WPG)
F Dominic Toninato (WPG)
There are a variety of notable names on this list, starting with the curious case of Jonsson-Fjallby. After being picked up on waivers from Washington earlier in the week, he finds himself on waivers again today after not playing in a single preseason contest for Buffalo. If Washington re-claims him, he can be immediately assigned to AHL Hershey.
The most surprising and NHL-ready name on this list is undoubtedly Vancouver’s Hamonic. With a cap hit of $3MM, it’s extremely unlikely he gets claimed, but could still be an intriguing option for a rebuilding team that needs defensive depth.
Other than that, there’s a rather intriguing group of younger, promising forwards that could be worth looks for teams like Buffalo, Arizona, Ottawa, Detroit, and others. Brooks, Barre-Boulet, Wagner, and Stenlund all fit the bill as names that carry moderate upside.
The Columbus Blue Jackets have avoided arbitration with one of their restricted free agents and dealt with an expansion draft issue at the same time. The team has re-signed Kevin Stenlund to a one-year, one-way contract worth $1.05MM. The Blue Jackets can now leave him exposed to the Seattle Kraken to fill one of their forward requirements.
Stenlund, 24, played 32 games for the Blue Jackets this season, scoring five goals and ten points while averaging just 12:32 of ice time. The 2015 second-round pick does have the size that teams covet down the middle which could make him a candidate for the expansion draft, but getting him signed now allows Columbus to make sure their more valuable forwards are protected.
The deal, which gives Stenlund a raise of almost $200K over the qualifying offer he agreed to last season, also likely secures him a spot on the NHL roster for 2021-22. The team could potentially bury it in the minor leagues to clear the cap hit, but Columbus isn’t really in a situation to pay minor league talent more than $1MM. More likely he’ll serve in a bottom-six role next year if he’s still with the Blue Jackets, giving them another option at center as they try to figure out how to add depth at that position.
Stenlund will likely join Eric Robinson, Dean Kukan and Matiss Kivlenieks as the four players that fill the exposure requirements for the Blue Jackets. That doesn’t mean Seattle needs to pick one of them, but Columbus is in a rather strong position this time around—remember, GM Jarmo Kekalainen gave up a first-round pick in the Vegas draft to protect certain players, only to watch William Karlsson score 43 goals in his first year with the Golden Knights. Columbus is much better prepared this time and actually has three first-round picks that teams are “hungry” for as they make their own expansion draft plans.
The trade deadline may have come and gone, but that doesn’t mean that there won’t be any more trades over the courses of the remainder of the league year. The NHL Expansion Draft is right around the corner, with protection lists due on July 17, ahead of the draft on July 21. By that time, all 30 participating teams must be able to submit a protection list that complies with the exposure requirements of the draft. As a reminder, teams may protect seven forwards, three defensemen, and a goalie or eight skaters and a goalie. However, they must also expose two forwards and one defenseman signed beyond this season and who have played in 27 NHL games this season or 54 games over the past two seasons, as well as a goaltender under team control beyond this season.
For many teams, this is easier said than done though. Long-term forwards and defensemen with considerable games played who are also deemed expendable are not all that common. With the trade deadline completed, teams are stuck with the group that they have unless they decide to make a trade in the time between their regular season end or postseason elimination and the week of the draft. Some can solve their problems internally, while others may be more hard pressed. Based on their most likely protection scheme, here are the teams with work to do:
Problem Area: Forward
Internal Solutions: The Flames may be having a difficult season, but they have a talented top-six who are all signed long-term. Except, that’s where the term forwards end. If Calgary cannot convince Milan Lucic to waive his No-Movement Clause, the team will be missing both of their required forwards for exposure by protecting Looch and the top-six. Even if Lucic does waive, the team will need to make another forward available to Seattle. RFA Dillon Dube meets the games played criteria, but the team is likely to protect the young forward or, if not, will not do anything to make him more attractive to the Kraken. That leaves fellow RFA Dominik Simon and impending UFA’s Derek Ryan, Josh Leivo, and Joakim Nordstrom, as well as Brett Ritchie with six more games played, as other names who could earn extensions due to otherwise meeting the exposure criteria.
Likelihood of a Trade: Medium. With so many affordable, bottom-six role players that the team could hand new one-year deals, the Flames have options. However, if Lucic does not waive and the team feels pressured to re-sign two of those players, they may look for outside help rather than bring back too much of a forward corps that has underachieved this year.
Problem Area: Forward
Internal Solutions: As one of the top scoring team’s in the NHL, the Avalanche will want to keep as much of their forward corps as they can and with the likes of Gabriel Landeskog and Brandon Saad heading to free agency and not in need of protection, the team can do just that. However, if Colorado does protect their top nine scoring forwards minus Landeskog and Saad, that leaves them with, at best, one forward to expose and zero if they choose to protect both Valeri Nichushkin and J.T. Compher. If the Avs do choose to protect the duo, that should leave RFA Tyson Jost unprotected, who they could extend in order to meet the exposure requirement. However, Jost has arbitration rights and may not rush into a new deal. Other candidates to re-sign would be UFA’s Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Carl Soderberg, or Matt Calvert. Fortunately, the Avalanche have an even easier internal fix and that is simply playing Logan O’Connor five more times before the end of the season.
Likelihood of a Trade: Low. Between playing O’Connor and exposing one of Nichushkin or Compher, Colorado may not have to make any move at all. If they do, they have options. Who wouldn’t want to re-sign in Colorado right now, even if its only for the purpose of being expansion draft fodder.
Problem Area: Forward
Internal Solutions: It’s easy to guess six forwards that the Blue Jackets will protect, but the seventh is a bit trickier. Do they expose star Gustav Nyquist, who has missed the whole season due to injury and is on a substantial contract and on the wrong side of 30? Or do they expose Eric Robinson, who has been a hard-working depth presence this season but has limited upside? Well, if they choose to protect either one, it only leave the other as meeting exposure criteria. Only if both are exposed is Columbus good to go and that scenario seems unlikely. However, the only forward currently meeting the requirements other than term is RFA Kevin Stenlund, though UFA Mikhail Grigorenko requires only two more games played (and a new contract).
Likelihood of a Trade: High. The Blue Jackets surely want to bring Stenlund back, but he has arbitration rights and may not be keen to sign quickly just to help with expansion requirements. If a Stenlund deal can’t be reached sooner rather than later, Columbus may not have a choice but to bring someone in from the outside. A Grigorenko extension seems unlikely, as does exposing both Nyquist and Robinson.
Problem Area: Forward
Internal Solutions: The Stars’ protection scheme at forward is fairly obvious, as they have seven core forwards who stand out above the rest. However, those seven are also the only regular forwards with term on their contracts. Of all other expansion-draft eligible forwards for Dallas, only Joel L’Esperance has additional time on his current deal and he cannot reach the games played requirement. As a result, the Stars must find two forwards to expose, whereas most of these other problematic teams can at least scrounge up one forward. Among the options to re-sign are veteran UFA’s Blake Comeau and Andrew Cogliano or younger UFA’s Tanner Kero and Justin Dowling. However, it may be easier to re-up an RFA like Jason Dickinson or, with three more games, Nicholas Caamano.
Likelihood of a Trade: Medium. The Stars have a number of options, many of whom will likely re-sign at some point anyhow or else Dallas will have to rebuild their bottom-six from scratch. However, with two slots to fill there is always a chance that acquiring a player could be easier than negotiating a pair of early extensions.
Problem Area: Forward
Internal Options: A rebuilding Devils team has a number of regular forwards who are ineligible for the draft and many others, protected or not, who are restricted free agents. What they lack is many term forwards, especially of the the expendable variety. While New Jersey could go in a few different direction with their protected list, the reality is simply that they have only five draft-eligible forwards who are signed beyond this season and at least four of those are locks to be protected. The x-factor is Andreas Johnsson. The first-year Devil has fallen well short of expectations and it would not be a surprise to see him exposed, leaving the team with just one spot to fill to meet the quota. However, if they are determined to give Johnsson a second chance and not lose him for nothing, then that becomes two slots that must be filled. The other problem in New Jersey is that the team doesn’t want to give Seattle any added incentive to steal some of their promising young players. Michael McLeod, Janne Kuokkanen, Yegor Sharangovich, and Nathan Bastian would all meet the exposure criteria if extended, but it’s safe to assume that the Devils will protect two or three of that group and may not be too excited to lose any of the others. Nick Merkley, who requires seven more games played and a new deal, could be seen as more expendable and may be okay with accepting a quick extension, even if it just for expansion purposes.
Likelihood of a Trade: High. With the possibility that New Jersey could protect Johnsson and, in any scenario, will want to steer the Kraken away from their young forwards if at all possible, the Devils seem like a prime candidate to bring in some outside help with meeting exposure criteria.
Problem Area: Forward
Internal Options: Much like the Stars, the Sharks are not an elite team right now, but possess a solid group of top-six forwards who will all be protected. Also like Dallas though, the team has complete lack of long-term commitment to any forward outside of that group. The only other eligible forward signed beyond this season is Jayden Halbgewachs, who has not played a single NHL game, nevertheless enough to meet the requirement. There is not a great list of internal options to re-sign either. Of the players who would meet exposure criteria with an extension, Patrick Marleau is likely to retire, Marcus Sorensen seems to need a fresh start in free agency, and one of Rudolfs Balcers and Dylan Gambrell is likely to be the seventh forward protected. That really leaves UFA Matt Nieto as the lynchpin. If the Sharks can re-up Nieto and whoever they don’t protect between Balcers and Gambrell, they are good to go. If Nieto isn’t keen to re-sign and if Balcers or Gambrell wish to pursue arbitration, the Sharks will be stuck without any forwards to expose.
Likelihood of a Trade: High. The Sharks are in as tough a position as any team on this list. If left exposed, Washington native Gambrell seems like a very likely pick by Seattle, but San Jose needs to meet the exposure quota all the same. That could involve bringing in one if not two forwards before the draft. There simply aren’t many other options on the roster.
Problem Area: Forward OR Defense (Scheme-Dependent)
Internal Options: It should come as no surprise that a team build entirely on a small, expensive core group and veterans on affordable, one-year deals is not well-prepared for the expansion draft. Of the ten Toronto skaters who currently meet the exposure criteria, four are forwards that will be protected in any scenario and three are defensemen that will be protected in any scenario. This leaves Alex Kerfoot at forward and Justin Holl on defense(with Pierre Engvall as the odd man out will likely be exposed regardless); only one can be protected and the other is the most likely Leaf to be selected. If the Maple Leafs value Holl more than Kerfoot, they will go with eight skaters in their protection list. In this scenario, they will not have any defensemen who meet the exposure criteria. Fortunately, any of RFA Travis Dermott or UFA’s Zach Bogosian or Ben Hutton could re-sign and fill that role. Alternatively, if the team values Kerfoot more than Holl, they will go with the standard 7-3 protection scheme. This would allow them to protect Kerfoot as well as extend and protect others like Zach Hyman, Joe Thornton, or Jason Spezza. Those three would all meet exposure requirements as well with a new deal, but Toronto will not offer them up to Seattle. Wayne Simmonds, Riley Nash, or Alex Galchenyuk could be more likely though. Unfortunately, these are all unrestricted free agents and not as easy to re-sign before the off-season as a restricted free agent. The Leafs could find themselves in a bind as a result.
Likelihood of a Trade: Low. There is still so much to be determined about the Leafs’ approach to the draft and they have options either way and player who would likely be eager to re-sign. It’s not a straightforward situation by any means, but they should be able to figure it out without taking the risk of adding salary that they can’t spare by making a trade.
Problem Area: Forward
Internal Options: The Jets are known for their depth at forward and eight of their top-nine meet the exposure criteria as a result, with RFA Andrew Copp not fitting the bill but almost certain to be protected anyway. The decision for the seventh and final protection slot is likely between the recently-extended Adam Lowry and upstart Mason Appleton. Whoever isn’t protected fills one of the two exposure roles. However, no one else is currently eligible. Extension candidates include UFA’s Mathieu Perreault, Trevor Lewis, and Nate Thompson, but Winnipeg may not necessarily want to commit further to any of those three. The solution: Jansen Harkins is signed through next season and requires just four more games to meet exposure level.
Likelihood of Trade: Low. Just play Harkins and move on. The list of teams in trouble is already long enough.
Although we’re just two months into the season, the trade deadline is already a month away. Where does each team stand and what moves should they be looking to make? We continue our look around the league with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Columbus Blue Jackets franchise is nothing if not hopeful. After 17 years of remaining faithful, the team finally won a playoff series in 2019 and then won another in 2020. Even though their play this season has been disappointing at times, they are still in the running for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central Division and have a non-zero chance of catching the upstart Chicago Blackhawks and holding off the Dallas Stars.
With that said, this Blue Jackets team is in the bottom third of the league in goals for per game, goals against per game, power play, and penalty kill. Even if they sneak into the playoffs, even if they again wondrously upset the Tampa Bay Lightning, this is not a team with title hopes this year. This is not a team buying at the deadline.
Besides, the Blue Jackets already made their big move this season: the acquisition of two new core pieces in Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic. Columbus may not be playing up to their expectations this season, but it has been an odd year – and for this team in particular – and the Blue Jackets are probably best served to just take it easy at the trade deadline. Just as this is not a contending roster, it is equally not a roster in need of a rebuild. Columbus should stay the course. If they receive outstanding offers for their impending free agents or term depth players, they should consider. If they are faced with the opportunity to add a term depth player of their own, they should consider. By and large though, the Blue Jackets should focus on the group they currently have and see if they can sneak into the postseason. This is not a year for Columbus to do anything drastic.
11-12-6, .483, 5th in Central Division
$1.571MM in full-season space ($7.01MM at the trade deadline), 0/3 retention slots used, 43/50 contracts used per CapFriendly.
2021: CLB 1st, CLB 3rd, CLB 4th, CLB 5th, NJD 5th, CLB 6th, CLB 7th
2022: CLB 1st, CLB 2nd, CLB 4th, CLB 6th, ANA 7th
The Blue Jackets are sitting on a pair of prime time impending free agents, but unlike 2019, when Columbus couldn’t bear to let Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky go without loading up and going for a run, the team has a different reason this time around to think twice about parting ways with their most valuable pieces. Nick Foligno and David Savard bleed Jackets blue. The former is the captain and the latter is a career Blue Jacket and the longest tenured player on the team. There is certainly some discussion in the front office about whether it is really worth it to part with either player. Of course, much of that also revolves around extension talks. If this is the end of Foligno and/or Savard in Columbus anyway, then the team should trade them. However, if either one wants to remain with the club in the future, likely re-signing after expansion, it could be better for all parties if they held on to them. Foligno especially, as the locker room leader for a team that is still within reach of a playoff spot, has value on the team this season, perhaps more than he would to any other team in the league. Foligno is also having a down year offensively and may not command a great return. Savard, on the other hand, is extremely valuable to a great many teams as an experienced shutdown defender on the right side. Yet, he also fits perfectly as a complement to the Blue Jackets’ more offensive-minded, puck-moving top pair and the team surely hopes that he wishes to remain in that role moving forward.
Fortunately for Columbus, they aren’t without other valuable rentals if Foligno and Savard stay put, albeit to a lesser extent. First-time Blue Jackets Michael Del Zotto and Mikhail Grigorenko could be nice depth additions for contenders, as could bottom-six center Riley Nash. None of them have had especially noteworthy seasons, but are useful additions nonetheless. Del Zotto especially is affordable and experienced – a nice acquisition for a cap-strapped team in need of skill on the blue line.
Among term players, there are certainly already some calling for the trade of Max Domi. The off-season acquisition, who signed a two-year extension with the team, has been nothing short of underwhelming this season. However, is there any upside to trading him now? Domi, who already has a reputation for not lasting long with teams, may be at the lowest point in trade value in his career. Especially in a cap-strapped climate, the Blue Jackets would almost certainly not get back fair value. The optics would also be bad, as counterpart Josh Anderson has found immediate success with the Montreal Canadiens. Columbus would be much better off to hold on to Domi and see if he can improve next season before making a decision on his future. Unless, of course, someone blows them away with an offer. Domi was expected to fill a hole down the middle for Columbus, so any deal to move him out right now should aim to bring another talented center in.
Despite a recent extension in February, there is a more logical reason to potentially move defenseman Dean Kukan. Kukan has missed some time this season, but has played well when healthy. As one of the top candidates to be selected by the Seattle Kraken in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft, the Blue Jackets may choose instead to get value back for the blue liner if there is interest. Of course, they may also just hold out hope that Seattle goes in a different direction.
Of course, the big move that Columbus could make is to break up their young goalie tandem. With both Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins set to hit free agency after next season, there is some question as to the viability of retaining both beyond that point. Either one would certainly draw interest on the trade market, though a deal is more likely in the off-season. Specifically, when it comes to Korpisalo, there may be limited demand around the league for adding an eligible goalie prior to the expansion draft rather than after. His market would likely be improved in the summer. If the Blue Jackets decide to make a big change in net at the deadline rather than waiting for the summer, it is more likely to be Merzlikins on the move.
1) Draft Picks and Prospects – Unfortunately, the Blue Jackets are still feeling the effects of their all-out approach at the 2019 trade deadline, as well as some other moves they have made. They have not had many high-value picks over the past two years and are still without some key selections moving forward, including a second-rounder this year and a third-rounder in 2022. With many of their top prospects having graduated to the pros as well, Columbus has a young NHL roster, but a lacking pipeline. In fact, The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler ranked it 27th overall in the league, which would be easier to swallow if the team was performing better. Whether by picks or by prospects, the Blue Jackets need to try to replenish the system.
2) A Term Forward – The shrewd GM that he is, don’t be surprised to see Jarmo Kekalainen try to address the Expansion Draft ahead of the deadline. Assuming their most likely protection scheme and choices, the Blue Jackets are currently short one forward to meet the exposure quota that the draft demands, unless they re-sign Nash or Grigorenko, UFA’s they could instead trade, or Kevin Stenlund, who would also need to play regularly down the stretch to meet the games played criteria. Those options aren’t ideal and the Blue Jackets could just as easily find a player to trade for at a low price who covers them for expansion, but could also play a role next season if not selected. Although Columbus shouldn’t be a typical buyer at the deadline, an additional forward could also help in their continued pursuit of a playoff spot, especially if they move one or more of their impending free agents up front. Again, center is the team’s biggest positional need, but not necessarily the priority here in adding a player they plan to expose in expansion.
There appears to be some good news at least on the horizon for the Blues. Speaking with reporters today (video link), GM Doug Armstrong indicated that winger Vladimir Tarasenko has resumed skating as he works his way back from offseason surgery:
His shoulder certainly isn’t 100 percent right now, but it’s at a point where the safety mechanisms are in place where we feel he can skate. He can receive passes, make passes, and shoot to a level of his comfort. He’s still aways away. We won’t see him for a number of weeks, but he certainly is on the right track.
Tarasenko has been out since re-aggravating his previous shoulder injury back in the bubble which played a role in the Blues signing Mike Hoffman just before the season started. While it will be several weeks yet before he returns, he’s on track to be a big second-half addition to a team that has gotten off to a solid start this season with a 7-2-1 record.
More injury news and notes from around the league: