James Wisniewski

Columbus signs James Wisniewski to six-year, $33 million deal

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The Blue Jackets aren’t here to mess around this offseason. After acquiring Jeff Carter from Philadelphia, they dealt for the rights to Montreal defenseman James Wisniewski to see if they could lock down the power play useful blue liner. Today, the Jackets and GM Scott Howson were able nail down a monster deal for the six year NHL veteran signing him to a six-year, $33 million deal.

Wisniewski’s deal comes in at a cap hit of $5.5 million per year for the next six years and for a guy who had his first real offensive breakout season last year scoring ten goals and adding 41 assists, he’s cashing in when the market was ripest for him. With solid free agent defensive choices being minimal on the open market, Wisniewski’s stock was at its highest. The Blue Jackets knew this right away and set their sights on him acquiring his rights to negotiate with him. It paid off for Columbus and it has more than paid off now for Wisniewski as he’s one of the best paid blue liners in the league.

While that might be upsetting for some fans who might not believe he’s worth the money, the market dictates the price and for Wisniewski it works out great. Known for his physical game as well as his offensive touch as well, he’ll be an immediate asset for the Blue Jackets on the power play. Teamed up with Carter and Rick Nash the Jackets will look to improve their numbers on the man advantage in a big way. Last season the Jackets had the second worst power play in the NHL scoring at a 14% rate.

The pressure will now be on in a big way for the Blue Jackets. After years of mediocre play they’re going to have to find a way to make their mark in the Central Division this year and cut into Detroit and Chicago’s winning ways as well as dealing with a feisty Nashville team. With the two additions they’ve made, things are getting better faster for Columbus. They’ll have to hope coach Scott Arniel can help put things together in a big way to turn things around for the better in Ohio.

Alumni rosters announced for Bruins-Habs at Gillette Stadium

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The Winter Classic Alumni Game is back this year, scheduled for New Year’s Eve at Gillette Stadium between former members of the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins.

Today, the NHL announced the rosters and coaching staffs.

Famous ex-Habs that will take to the outdoor ice include Larry Robinson, Guy Carbonneau, and Mats Naslund. Behind the bench will be Yvan Cournoyer, Jacques Demers and Guy Lafleur, among others.

The home side will counter with Bruins legends Ray Bourque, Cam Neely, and “Nifty” Rick Middleton, while Don Cherry, Mike Milbury, and Derek Sanderson will be among the coaches. (Quite a trio of personalities right there.)

Here are the full rosters:


NBCSN will broadcast the alumni game nationally in the United States, while Sportsnet and TVA Sports will have it in Canada.

The 2016 Winter Classic will be played the next day (on NBC).

Goalie nods: Andersen’s ‘flu-like symptoms’ mean Khudobin starts versus Flames

Anton Khudobin, Frederik Andersen
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With Frederik Andersen experiencing “flu-like symptoms” (PHT diagnosis: it might be the flu), the Anaheim Ducks will turn to backup Anton Khudobin for tonight’s home game versus Calgary.

Khudobin could, in turn, be backed up by Josh Gibson, recalled today from AHL San Diego. The Ducks have officially listed Andersen as “questionable.”

Khudobin (3-3-0, .917) has not started a game in over a week. His last action came exactly a week ago, after Andersen got the hook versus Nashville.

Andersen may or may not travel with the Ducks for tomorrow’s game at Arizona.

The Ducks, of course, are coming off a 5-0 loss to Tampa Bay, a result that produced the following quote from Ryan Kesler:

After a four-game winning streak to start November, Anaheim has since dropped five of its last seven.

Karri Ramo will be in net for the Flames. After a terrible start to the season, he’s been much better lately, allowing just eight goals combined in his last four starts.


Craig Anderson for the Senators. Antti Niemi for the Stars.

Torts: Jackets still need more ‘bite’

John Tortorella

The hope was that the Columbus Blue Jackets would be jolted into a great, long winning streak, and their season would be saved.

The reality of John Tortorella’s first month behind the bench has been, well, reality. The Jackets are 8-7-0 since Todd Richards was fired. Better than 0-7-0, sure, but at 8-14-0 overall, they remain last in the Eastern Conference.

Fifteen games into his tenure, Tortorella is still trying to get his message across.

“A big reason why we bring them in (to practice yesterday and today) is because we don’t have a full understanding of the standard we need to be at in all areas of the game,” he told The Columbus Dispatch. “Some things you can’t control in our game, but it’s how hard you play, how hard you are with your bite as a team, and the pace you play with – you can control that.”

The Jackets play Wednesday in New Jersey, where they’ll look to shake off Sunday’s disappointing home loss to San Jose. Columbus held a 3-1 third-period lead in that one. The Sharks scored four straight to win 5-3.


— The Canucks need ‘more bite’

The Rangers are better when they have ‘more bite’

Sharks sign Zubrus, because DeBoer


The San Jose Sharks have signed forward Dainius Zubrus to a one-year, two way contract, the club announced today.

Zubrus was given a tryout with the Sharks last week.

The 37-year-old played 74 games with the Devils last season, scoring just four goals with six assists. His contract was then bought out.

According to a Mercury News source, the decision to sign Zubrus lay “mainly” with his former coach in New Jersey, now San Jose’s bench boss, Pete DeBoer.

“He looks good,” DeBoer said of Zubrus last week, per CSN Bay Area. “He looks close. It’s tough to find six-foot-four, 215-pound guys who can play. … He’s an easy guy to play because he’s defensively reliable. He plays a big possession, heavy game. There’s a lot to like there.”

In a related move, the Sharks have reassigned forward Nikolay Goldobin to the AHL.

Related: Where’s the depth in San Jose?