Jonathan Quick, Kristian Huselius

Blue Jackets look to free agent market, other routes to replace Kristian Huselius


Every now and then, an NHL team loses a player for a long period of time when he isn’t even playing hockey. It happened when Sami Salo suffered a freak injury during a game of floor hockey in 2010 and Kristian Huselius seems like the 2011 example after he tore his pectoral muscle while lifting weights.

The injury (and resulting surgery) is expected to keep Huselius out of action for 4-6 months, meaning he probably won’t be ready for NHL action until November (at the earliest) or January (if he falls in the later end of the scale). That’s a tough blow for Huselius and the Blue Jackets, but perhaps they should have seen his injury woes coming; he only played in 39 games during the 2010-11 season.

Either way, the Blue Jackets are without a top six forward. The Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline lays out their options, which seemingly boil down to signing a free agent or finding a team willing to make a deal that won’t cost them a top prospect such as Ryan Johansen.

Free agency is a well-picked carcass at this point, but there are a few intriguing players still available.

Cory Stillman, Vaclav Prospal, Brendan Morrison, Steve Bernier, Sergei Samsonov, J.P. Dumont, Marek Svatos, and former Blue Jacket Jason Williams are all unrestricted free agents.


The Blue Jackets already leaning toward a franchise-record $58 million payroll are likely to seek a one-year contract worth no more than $2 million.

If the free agency market doesn’t bear fruit, a long wait could ensue.

The Blue Jackets would be forced to pursue three possible scenarios to find their guy: seek a trade, sign a player who becomes a free agent following the August “buy out” window, or sign a player who becomes a free agent when his club declines to accept a ruling handed down in arbitration.

Portzline reports that Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson isn’t looking for a “direct replacement” for Huselius. Instead, he simply wants someone who can “sustain” them while he heals up. (Too bad Howson couldn’t go in the $3 million price range, because I’m sure the Flames would allow him to take struggling winger Niklas Hagman off their hands for a limited price.)

If I were Howson, I’d take a long look at Dumont or Samsonov. Those are two players who can create offense and might be surprisingly effective in last chance (or close to last chance?) contract years. Stillman might not be a bad option, either, although Dumont and Samsonov provide younger options.

The Flames and Blue Jackets are just two of the NHL teams who might be looking to make a deal sometime this summer, so we could have some interesting deals to discuss in these hockey-free months.

Bruins’ second line officially goes under the microscope

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While much has been written about the Boston Bruins’ depleted defense, there’s also a good amount of intrigue about the forward group, which will look dramatically different tonight compared to last year’s season opener.

Here are the Bruins’ expected lines versus the Jets:

Brad MarchandPatrice BergeronLoui Eriksson
Matt BeleskeyDavid KrejciDavid Pastrnak
Jimmy HayesRyan SpoonerBrett Connolly
Chris KellyJoonas KemppainenZac Rinaldo

The line most under the microscope may be that second one. In today’s Boston Globe, there’s a lengthy story on Krejci. The 29-year-old center with the big contract only played 47 games last season due to injuries. He finished with just 31 points.

So, where is Krejci’s game now?

Then there’s free-agent addition Matt Beleskey, a.k.a. Milan Lucic‘s replacement. Prior to scoring 22 times last year for the Ducks, the 27-year-old Beleskey had never tallied more than 11 goals in a season.

So, is Beleskey a legitimate top-six forward?

On the other wing, it’s David Pastrnak, the 19-year-old who, somewhat surprisingly, emerged as one of the top rookies in the league last year.

So, can Pastrnak take another step forward?

“It’s been a good three plus weeks where we’ve been able to kind of work individually, as a group, as a line, with different players and different personalities,” said coach Claude Julien. “We’re pleased with it. We’re optimistic and we just have to let things work themselves out too.”

Lucic: If I wanted to hurt Couture, ‘I would have hurt him’


Last night in Los Angeles, Kings forward Milan Lucic received a match penalty after skating the entire width of the ice to give San Jose’s Logan Couture a two-hand shove to the face.

Lucic didn’t hurt Couture, who had caught Lucic with an open-ice hit that Lucic didn’t like. Couture’s smiling, mocking face was good evidence that the Sharks’ forward was going to be OK.

This morning, Lucic was still in disbelief that he was penalized so harshly.

“I didn’t cross any line,” Lucic said, per Rich Hammond of the O.C. Register. “Believe me, if my intentions were to hurt him, I would have hurt him.”

While Lucic knew he deserved a penalty, he said after the game that he didn’t “know why it was called a match penalty.” His coach, Darryl Sutter, agreed, calling it “a borderline even roughing penalty.”

And though former NHL referee Kerry Fraser believes a match penalty was indeed warranted, Lucic said this morning that he hasn’t heard from the NHL about any possible supplemental discipline.

Nor for that matter has Dustin Brown, after his high hit on Couture in the first period.

In conclusion, it’s good to have hockey back.

Related: Sutter says Kings weren’t ‘interested’ in checking the Sharks