Report: Blue Jackets could draw trade interest for players such as goalie Steve Mason

Aside from the last place Edmonton Oilers, it’s difficult to say that any Western Conference team is truly out of the playoff picture. After all, the 14th ranked Columbus Blue Jackets (51 points) are only 10 points behind the fourth place Nashville Predators and seven points behind the Chicago Blackhawks for the final playoff spot.

Still, one thing people forget is that there is a big difference between earning a bottom seed and being able to do anything with it.

Sure, there have been plenty of Cinderella teams before; last year’s Philadelphia Flyers and Montreal Canadiens beat top seeds to meet in the Eastern Conference finals, for instance. In other seasons, the Edmonton Oilers rode Chris Pronger’s brilliance and the Calgary Flames took advantage of the addition of Mikka Kiprusoff to make amazing runs.

But the Blue Jackets have to ask themselves: do they really have the talent to make a deep run? The team was absolutely dominated in their only run to the playoffs in 2009, as the Red Wings swept them with little trouble. Is there any reason to believe this year’s edition of the team can produce better results?

Darren Dreger reports that the team owns some pieces drawing league interest in the trade market. Dreger writes that GM Scott Howson might get some value by moving goalie Steve Mason, defenseman Rostislav Klesla and/or forward Jakub Voracek.

The most interesting possibility would be moving Mason. It wouldn’t exactly be an example of selling high, as league-wide opinions of the would-be franchise goalie cannot be at their peak. Still, the Blue Jackets would be wise to consider moving him.

The team made a gamble when they gave him the good-faith offer of a two-year, $5.8 million extension that will kick in next season, but Mason’s been weak to abysmal since his Calder Trophy-winning 08-09 season. His save percentage keeps dropping (a well below average 89.5 mark this season) while his GAA keeps rising (an ugly 3.30 average in 10-11). If some team is willing to take a silly risk on a pricey goalie in a buyers market, Howson would be wise to shuttle him out much like Pascal Leclaire was pawned to the Ottawa Senators.

Keep in mind these are barely even rumors, but it doesn’t mean that the Blue Jackets aren’t shopping people around. Or they at least should consider shopping them around …

Caps re-sign Copley, who could be Holtby’s future backup

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Pheonix Copley, who returned to Washington this season as part of the Kevin Shattenkirk trade with St. Louis, has signed a two-year extension worth $1.3 million, the Caps announced on Wednesday.

The key wrinkle in the deal is that year one is of the two-way variety, while year two is of the one-way.

It’s worth mentioning because Philipp Grubauer — Washington’s current backup to starter Braden Holtby — is currently a restricted free agent, and believed to be have No. 1 potential.

The 25-year-old has capably served under Holtby for the last two years. He’s coming off an excellent campaign — 13-6-2, .926 save percentage, 2.05 GAA — and sounds like he’s ready to make the next step in his career.

“I would like to stay here; Washington is awesome and the whole organization’s been awesome the last couple of years,” Grubauer said, per the Post. “But I’m ready if the opportunity comes to make the next step and try to be a starting goalie somewhere.”

Grubauer was made available to Vegas at the expansion draft, but Golden Knights GM George McPhee opted to take blueliner Nate Schmidt instead. There are still rumblings that Washington might dangle Grubauer in trade talks.

Copley has a very small NHL resume — just two games, both with St. Louis — but fared very well with AHL Hershey last year. In 16 regular-season games he went 11-5-0 with a .931 save percentage and 2.15 GAA and, in the playoffs, went 5-4 with a .933 save percentage and 2.13 GAA.

Report: Ryan Miller may land in Anaheim

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The Anaheim Ducks might be getting a former Vezina Trophy winner as their backup.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, “there is a lot of expectation of Ryan Miller to Anaheim for approximately $1 million, although I’m not sure if bonuses will be added to that.”

Miller, an unrestricted free agent, has spent the last three years in Vancouver. The Canucks would like to keep him; however, his wife, Noureen DeWulf, is an actress, so Southern California has always been a potential landing spot.

Also, let’s face it, Miller would have a much better shot at winning the Stanley Cup with the Ducks, and that’s something the 36-year-old has never done.

As for the Ducks’ motivations, signing Miller would give them a viable starting option should John Gibson struggle or get hurt again. Recall that Anaheim’s last backup, Jonathan Bernier, had a tough time after he was forced into action in the Western Conference Final.

Related: What does the future hold for Ryan Miller?

Jets have contacted Mason about goalie gig

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Though most signs point to Brian Elliott in goal for Winnipeg next season — see here and here — there are other options out there.

Per the Winnipeg Sun, the Jets have reached out to ex-Flyers netminder Steve Mason during the free agent interview window.

Mason, 29, just wrapped the last of a three-year, $12.3 million deal with a $4.1M average annual cap hit. He’s spent the last four-plus seasons with the Flyers but, over the last two, had been part of a platoon with Michal Neuvirth.

Mason played 58 games to Neuvirth’s 28 this year, but didn’t fare especially well, finishing with a .908 save percentage.

We bring this up because whoever signs in Winnipeg will likely have to concede some starts to Connor Hellebuyck, the one-time goalie of the future that struggled mightily through ’16-17. Hellebuyck is still only 24 and the hope is that last year can be spun as a positive learning experience.

“We went through a growing period and the goaltenders were exactly like that,” head coach Paul Maurice said of Hellebuyck’s campaign, per the Free Press. “Put them back in the net after a tough night, yanked [Hellebuyck] early a bunch of times.”

The Sun reports that Winnipeg was “one of several teams that inquired about Mason,” which isn’t surprising. He’d make for a high-caliber backup and a likely upgrade in a number of markets.

 

Bruins re-sign Acciari — two years, $1.45 million

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Looks like Noel Acciari will be around Boston for the foreseeable future.

Acciari, who has spent most of his career shuttling between AHL Providence and the NHL, has signed a two-year, one-way deal worth $725,000, the B’s announced on Wednesday.

Acciari’s contract comes after he appeared in 29 games for the Bruins last year, scoring five points. He also appeared in four of the club’s opening-round playoff games against Ottawa, scoring once.

The former Providence standout, who went undrafted, caught on with Boston in ’15-16 and quickly worked his way into the mix at the NHL level.

There’s a pretty decent chance he’ll eclipse the 29 games played last year, especially if the club doesn’t return veteran forwards Dominic Moore and Drew Stafford, both of whom become unrestricted free agents on Saturday.