THN’s 2014-15 NHL season preview: Columbus Blue Jackets

The Hockey News
Columbus Blue Jackets (Photo by Jamie Sabau/National Hockey League)

2013-14 record: 43-32-7

Acquisitions: Brian Gibbons, Jarry D’Amigo, Scott Hartnell

Departures: Nick Schultz, Jack Skille, Blake Comeau, Matt Frattin, Derek MacKenzie, Nikita Nikitin, R.J. Umberger

Top five fantasy players: Ryan Johansen, Scott Hartnell, James Wisniewski, Brandon Dubinsky, Cam Atkinson

Boom, Bust and Bottom Line: The best, worst and most likely scenario
Boom: The Blue Jackets come into the season riding high after getting the franchise’s first playoff wins. Sure, they eventually fell to the Penguins in their first-round clash, but there was a real sense the series could have gone either way. That’s a confidence booster. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Kane, Byfuglien trade speculation will heat up if Jets start slowly

evander kane

The Winnipeg Jets enter their most critical season since their relocation from Atlanta in 2011. Counting their final seasons as the Thrashers, the Jets haven’t made the playoffs since 2007. The honeymoon period is over in Winnipeg, as fans and media grow impatient waiting for the Jets to become contenders.

Apart from a coaching change midway through last season and signing third-line center Mathieu Perreault, GM Kevin Cheveldayoff responded to off-season calls for change by standing pat and preaching patience.

Left winger Evander Kane and defenseman/winger Dustin Byfuglien were frequently subject to trade speculation this summer. THN.com’s Rory Boylen recently listed Kane among his top 10 trade candidates for the upcoming season, while Byfuglien made SI.com’s Allan Muir’s list.

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Rumor Roundup: Ryan Johansen to KHL & other RFA buzz

Ryan Johansen (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

While Ryan Johansen’s contentious contract negotiations with the Columbus Blue Jackets dominate NHL headlines, several other notable young players around the league also remain unsigned.

Boston Bruins defenseman Torey Krug and right winger Reilly Smith still await new deals. CSN New England’s Joe Haggerty reports it’s believed Krug and the Bruins have agreed to a one-year bridge term for this season but remain around $750,000 apart. Haggerty speculates Smith also received a one-year offer.

Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli undoubtedly would’ve preferred re-signing the duo before training camp opened last week, but, as has been well documented, the Bruins lack sufficient cap space to comfortably re-sign the duo.

It’s anticipated Chiarelli will make a trade before the start of the season to free up the necessary space. Until then, Krug and Smith remain in contractual limbo, unable to participate in training camp. Read more

Agents scratching their heads over Ryan Johansen’s contract demands

Ryan Johansen (Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

When Columbus Blue Jackets president of hockey operation, John Davidson, sounded off last week over the Ryan Johansen imbroglio, he backed up his stance by saying, “There are agents that can’t understand it.”

We at thn.com thought we would put that theory to the test. And if our sampling of conversations with 10 prominent agents is any indication, unfortunately for Johansen and his agent Kurt Overhardt, Davidson is right. There are a good number of player agents out there who can’t understand the stance Johansen and Overhardt have taken. (Last week, we spoke to 10 GMs for their views on the stance the Blue Jackets have taken.) Read more

Rumor Roundup: What’s the chance Johansen gets traded?

Lyle Richardson
Ryan Johansen is coming off his entry-level contract with the Blue Jackets, but hasn't signed an extension yet. (Getty Images)

The contentious contract talks between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Ryan Johansen have taken a decidedly ugly turn. The situation is overshadowing the start of training camp, threatening to derail the club’s efforts to build upon the promise of last season.

Jackets team president John Davidson and GM Jarmo Kekalainen claim the Johansen camp rejected offers of $6 million over two years ($3-million annually), $32 million over six years ($5.33-million annually) and $46 million over eight ($5.75 million).  Davidson went so far as to accuse Johansen’s agent, Kurt Overhardt, of “extortion.”

Overhardt’s only response was to call for a resumption of negotiations. TSN reports he’s tabled another two-year contract offer, but Darren Dreger claims it apparently wasn’t well received. Johansen departed Columbus prior to the start of training camp and returned home to Vancouver, while the Jackets prepare for training camp and pre-season without him. Read more

GMs feel Jackets pain, but question decision to go public with Ryan Johansen

Ken Campbell
Ryan Johansen (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

If Columbus Blue Jackets president of hockey operations John Davidson and GM Jarmo Kekalainen can take solace in one thing, it’s that their peers definitely feel their pain. Other hockey executives aren’t so sure about the Blue Jackets taking their beefs with Ryan Johansen and his agent Kurt Overhardt so public, but they do understand the frustration Davidson and Kekalainen are experiencing.

In an effort to determine whether the Blue Jackets are handling this standoff with Johansen in the right way, thn.com canvassed 10 current and former GMs for their views on the subject. As has been well documented, Johansen is a restricted free agent with the Blue Jackets and is currently embroiled in a contract dispute that has gotten quite ugly. It’s so poisoned that Davidson recently blamed Overhardt for his handling of the situation, which was followed by the Blue Jackets making public each of the offers they’ve presented to Johansen, all of which have been turned down. Read more

The top 10 fighters to watch this season

Brian McGrattan and Patrick Bordeleau (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

If you like a good scrap, you might find yourself a bit under siege lately in the hockey world. Regulations are tightening up, though the powers-that-be still maintain that organic fights, rather than staged bouts, are still part of the game. And even though enforcers such as Paul Bissonnette and Colton Orr appear to have uphill battles in returning to the NHL this season, there are still plenty of scrappers to watch. With a shout-out to hockeyfights.com as a research tool, here are the best:

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