Jarmo Kekalainen

Jackets GM feeling good about potential busy summer


Columbus’ season ended with disappointment at missing the playoffs by such a slim margin, but things are looking up for the offseason.

Aaron Portzline of The Columbus Dispatch hears from team GM Jarmo Kekalainen about how the amount of cap space and number of first-round picks they’ll have in this year’s draft has him excited to get to work. To say he’s got some options this summer is putting it politely.

“We were talking a lot about those three picks, how we would entertain turning one of those picks or even more than one of those picks into something that makes sense for us long-term,” Kekalainen said. “A very bright prospect or a player very young in his career is maybe something that would work, and I’m sure a few other teams are thinking the same.

“We’re in a great spot in that we have draft picks and we have (salary-cap) room, and we have a very keen interest in making our team more competitive.”

Like the Stars, who we talked about earlier today, the world is Columbus’ oyster this summer. How they handle having three first-round picks will be key though. They too might also be able to cash in on teams needing to get under next year’s lowered cap.

Update: Wisniewski tore ACL 47 seconds into ‘Canes debut

James Wisniewski, John-Michael Liles, Elias Lindholm
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Last night, we passed along news that veteran d-man James Wisniewski — acquired from Carolina at the draft — suffered what looked to be a serious injury just 47 seconds into his ‘Canes debut, and was ruled out for the remainder of the night.

Now, he’s been ruled out for a lot longer than that.

From the club:

Ron Francis, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that defenseman James Wisniewski will undergo surgery on his left knee after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during Thursday night’s game in Nashville.

Recovery time for the injury is estimated at six months.

This is, obviously, a tough development for both player and club. The ‘Canes were counting on Wisniewski to be a regular contributor on defense this year, and help improve last year’s middle-of-the-pack power play.

Wisniewski, meanwhile, was looking to bounce back from a disappointing ’14-15 campaign. He was shipped out of Columbus at the deadline to Anaheim but never made an impact for the Ducks, failing to see any playoff action as Anaheim made it all the way to the Western Conference final.

Jordan Weal to make NHL debut for Kings

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Two days after an uninspiring performance versus San Jose, the Los Angeles Kings will be getting an injection of youthful enthusiasm tonight versus Arizona.

Coach Darryl Sutter confirmed today that Jordan Weal will make his NHL debut at Staples Center.

A 23-year-old center, Weal is expected to replace Andy Andreoff and skate between Kyle Clifford and Jordan Nolan on the fourth line.

“It’s really exciting,” Weal told LA Kings Insider. “A lot of work has gone into getting to this part of my career, and the hard work’s just going to continue. It’s going to keep going, and I’m trying to do as much as I can in this game and keep improving from this game moving forward in trying to solidify a solid spot in the lineup.”

The 70th overall pick in 2010, Weal had 69 points in 73 games last season for AHL Manchester.

Related: Jordan Weal is looking to make the leap