While the Ottawa Senators are starting their season with a host of young players, they’ll be happy to know they won’t be the only ones to do that this year.
The Columbus Blue Jackets will be starting their season getting a look at four young players as well after the team went through their last round of cuts. Among those joining the team are 2009 first round pick forward Ryan Johansen, former Boston College standout Cam Atkinson, Russian speedster Maksim Mayorov and training camp surprise David Savard.
The two most exciting guys in this bunch are Johansen and Atkinson. For Johansen, he’ll get nine games to prove that he can stick on Columbus’ roster or else he’s heading back to the WHL in juniors. Atkinson is getting a shot to prove he can cut it in the NHL and avoid being fished out back to the AHL in Springfield.
Johansen and Atkinson have the offensive abilities to help the Blue Jackets become a better scoring team, the key for them is getting the minutes and opportunities to do so. With Kristian Huselius starting the year on IR and the Jackets having limited resources for guys that can score, Johansen and Atkinson could just be the guys making their hopes for the postseason coming true.
Another injury is helping keep spots open at forward for the likes of Mayorov as Jared Boll will start the year on IR with a broken thumb. Boll will be out 4-6 weeks with the injury and while Boll provides toughness, injecting more speed and offense to the lineup is a good thing for Columbus.
As for David Savard, the Blue Jackets being a bit thin on the blue line (thinner with James Wisniewski missing the first eight games with a suspension) giving him a shot to stick around is a shot worth taking for both GM Scott Howson and coach Scott Arniel. While guys like Fedor Tyutin, Marc Methot, Kris Russell, Grant Clitsome, and Radek Martinek are likely there to stay Savard and Aaron Johnson will battle it out to see who can stay in the NHL. They’ll get eight games to do just that.
Much like in Ottawa, these moves aren’t permanent invites to stay in the NHL and it’s up to those players to prove they belong and can be productive NHL players. Guys like Atkinson and Johansen are likely going to get every opportunity to do just that. If the goals come in bunches, they’ll be there to stay as the Blue Jackets try to get back to the playoffs.
The preseason is well underway and Josh Anderson is still without a contract.
Anderson, who scored 17 goals and 29 points last season for the Columbus Blue Jackets, is one of two remaining restricted free agents without a new deal. The other is Andreas Athanasiou of the Detroit Red Wings.
While there were reports this summer about Athanasiou potentially going to the KHL for this season, John Shannon of Sportsnet reported on Thursday that Anderson’s representatives have reached out to Hockey Canada’s staff about the 2018 Olympics.
Anderson’s entry-level contract, with an AAV of just over $894,000, expired at the end of last season.
Meanwhile, here is the latest on this ongoing contract situation.
Mikhail Sergachev has, over the summer, stated his belief he can play in the NHL this season.
He had a small taste of NHL action last season, appearing in four games for Montreal — the team that selected him ninth overall in 2016 — before getting sent back to junior and then being traded in June to Tampa Bay, as part of a blockbuster involving Jonathan Drouin to the Habs.
Well, Sergachev made a statement Wednesday in his preseason debut for the Lightning.
He scored once. He also played more than 22 minutes, which led all Lightning players on the night. That included time on the power play and penalty kill. If he was looking to make a favorable impression, to show that he belongs at the NHL level when the regular season begins, this seems to be another step in that direction.
“You watch this kid skate, shoot, stickhandle, he’s got NHL written all over him,” Tampa Bay’s associate coach Rick Bowness told the Tampa Bay Times. “Now we’ve got to give him experience. How much can he handle?”
There is competition on the blue line, with eight defensemen under contract in Tampa Bay for this season. That includes Sergachev, who is still only 19 years old. After getting sent back to junior last season, he recorded 43 points in 50 games with Windsor and then won the Memorial Cup that spring. That said, he’s made it a point of saying going back to junior “is not an option” for him.
Looking to make the leap: Mikhail Sergachev
Joffrey Lupul issued a statement Wednesday, saying he wouldn’t seek a second medical opinion after the Maple Leafs announced he didn’t pass his training camp physical.
A day later, reports have surfaced that the 33-year-old forward will, in fact, undergo another, independent medical test.
That is according to James Mirtle of The Athletic:
Earlier this week, Lupul made accusations against the Maple Leafs on Instagram.
“I’m ready … just awaiting the call,” Lupul wrote in the comments section of the Instagram post, per a screen grab. “haha failed physical? They cheat. Everyone lets them.”
Lupul, who didn’t pass his physical for a second year in a row, issued an apology yesterday. But those comments — which have since been deleted — seem to have grabbed the attention of the league.
Darren Dreger of TSN added to that, saying it’s the NHL pursuing a second medical opinion on this matter.
“The National Hockey League has that right to pursue the second opinion. That’s exactly what they’re engaging in right now,” Dreger reported Thursday.
“The reasoning behind it is because of the comment that Lupul made on social media. I’ll go back a year ago. The league didn’t step in a year ago but Lupul stayed quiet at that point. So they want to make sure — ‘They’ being the National Hockey League — that the medical evaluation from the Toronto Maple Leafs is 100 per cent above the board.”
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) General manager Jim Johannson has ruled out the possibility of the U.S. men’s hockey team having NHL draft-eligible prospects competing at the Winter Olympics in February.
Johannson tells The Associated Press he doesn’t view anyone from the 18-and-younger pool of prospects capable of cracking the projected lineup of non-NHL players, many of whom are opening this season playing in Europe.
USA Hockey’s assistant executive director says he’s also targeting a number of established college players, and would not rule out keeping a spot or two open for members of the U.S. team competing at the World Junior Championships this winter.
Johansson spoke in Buffalo, New York, on Thursday, where he is attending USA Hockey’s sixth annual All-American Prospects game. The game features the top 42 U.S.-born players eligible to be selected in the NHL draft in June.