Silver linings have been in short supply if you’re a fan of the Columbus Blue Jackets this season. That second-half charge from last year? Zero carryover. Top center Ryan Johansen? Traded – but at least Seth Jones was equal value for the blueline. There will be no playoffs in Ohio for the 13th time in 15 seasons, but hey: at least you’ve got Boone Jenner, Jackets loyalists.
Ladies and gentlemen, start your conspiracy theories. Wait, how many games do the Toronto Maple Leafs have remaining this season? Oh, four. And how many games did Nazem Kadri get suspended? Hmm, four. Well, now, isn’t that convenient.
Kadri just happens to be the Maple Leafs best player of late. He also happens to be their hottest scorer, with eight points in his past six games, and their leading scorer with 45 points. (Although that point total definitely puts him in fastest-kid-at-fat-camp territory.) So having Kadri out of the lineup for the final four games of the regular season obviously enhances the Leafs chances of running the table with losses and catching the red-hot Edmonton Oilers for last place overall and the best chance of winning the draft lottery.
It’s been eight years since my last game as an amateur athlete. The day I had dreamed of had finally arrived, although it wasn’t quite as imagined. I finished my OHL career on a warm spring day – I remember so vividly because it was the day that began my slide from my wonderful seat atop the world. After the playoffs ended, I was banged up. My shoulder was a mess, my legs were shot (not to mention how emotional of a time the past 12 months had been), but of course there was still work that needed to be done as the Columbus Blue Jackets weren’t about to let me enjoy my summer just yet, and I was shipped off to AHL Syracuse to begin my quest to play in the NHL.
Everything is happening right now, as Bob Cole would say. You’ve got the Jimmy Vesey saga in Nashville, Zach Werenski signing with Columbus and Pittsburgh grabbing college free agent Ethan Prow out of St. Cloud State. Plus, the CHL playoffs are in full swing, with a couple upstarts threatening the top seeds. In the OHL for example, Sarnia is in trouble thanks to a surging Sault Ste. Marie squad, while Edmonton is giving powerhouse Brandon fits in the WHL. Oh, and the Frozen Four is set, with Quinnipiac, Boston College, North Dakota and Denver all in the mix for April 7. Let’s keep the prospect party going:
Columbus Blue Jackets winger Jared Boll isn’t an every game player, so the veteran tough guy has learned to make an impact in what little ice time he does get. He may have crossed the line Tuesday, though, and a late hit on Flyers center Pierre-Edouard Bellemare could see Boll taking a seat for a few games.
Early in the second period Tuesday, Philadelphia was attempting to exit their zone when Bellemare took a short pass from Radko Gudas before moving the puck along to Ryan White. As Bellemare’s pass was heading White’s direction, though, Boll lined up the Flyers pivot and dropped him with a late hit. Bellemare was left in a heap while Gudas and White jumped in after Boll: Read more
CHL playoffs and the NCAA Frozen Four tournament kick off this week, so it’s a big time for prospect evaluation. But there is also a lot of change in the air, starting at the University of Wisconsin, where long-time coach Mike Eaves was given his walking papers after two straight disastrous seasons. Recruiting and retention was an issue, as the Badgers could have had Brock Boeser (VAN), Luke Opilka (STL) and Jack Dougherty (NSH) in their lineup this year, but lost all of them. It’s been a rough ride in Madison, but I’m sure Eaves will land on his feet. Elsewhere, Pittsburgh signed scorer Jake Guentzel once his season with Nebraska-Omaha was finished and there’s rampant speculation about another NCAA product’s future plans that I’ll mention below. Let’s take a spin around the world of prospects again: