Columbus, Bobrovsky gaining no traction in contract talks

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The waiting game between the Blue Jackets and Sergei Bobrovsky continues.

And, if a recent article from the Columbus Dispatch is accurate, it could continue some more.

The Dispatch reports there’s been zero traction gained between Bobrovsky and Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen on contract talks, adding there may not be much more gained by July 5.

From the Dispatch’s Michael Arace:

Negotiations between Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen and Bobrovsky’s agent, Paul Theofanous, have not gained traction. There is good reason for this: Theofanous wants to wait, and it behooves him to do so.

Bobrovsky will be worth more if he wins the Vezina and/or receives an offer sheet from another team and/or receives an offer from SKA St. Petersburg — which might be offering something in the range of $10 million annually.

Bobrovsky is just 24 years old and coming out of his first contract, but he is set up to get a third-contract payday. All he has to do is sit tight past July 5 and the market will do the rest.

Arace also notes that Kekalainen is on record saying he’ll match any offer sheet made to his goalie.

Translation: If Bobrovsky plays in North America next year, it’ll be in Columbus.

The real question is how much the Blue Jackets are willing to spend. They’re currently $19 million under next year’s $64.3 million cap with 16 players signed, but do have a few decisions to make (most notably with RFA forward Artem Anisimov and veteran UFAs Vinny Prospal and Adrian Aucoin).

In terms of comparables, Bobrovsky could be looking a deal similar to what Jaroslav Halak got in St. Louis in 2010.

Then a 25-year-old RFA, Halak signed a four-year, $15 million deal with the Blues — and it’s worth noting Bobrovsky’s current situation is a lot like Halak’s, in that both would cash in on a season of excellence.

Halak got his deal on the heels of a stellar 2009-10 campaign, when he went 26-13-5 with a .924 save percentage and 2.40 GAA during the regular season, then starred in the postseason by carrying the underdog Canadiens all the way to the Eastern Conference finals.

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KHL club reportedly pursuing Bobrovsky

Columbus signs a goalie…but it’s not Bobrovsky

Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)

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Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.

Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.

McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).

Islanders grab precious points by beating Rangers

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The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.

They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.

The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.

Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.

The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.

The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.

Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style

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Rick Nash has his critics stemming from his playoff struggles in the past, but for those who support him, moments like these are satisfying.

Why? Because you’d be absurd to discredit how hard he tries when Nash scores goals like he did for the New York Rangers against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

Nash went all-out for his 20th goal of the season, sprawling after scoring against Thomas Greiss. It’s quite a sight, and Getty Images really was on top of that one.

via Getty Images

The Rangers may need more from him tonight, however, as the Islanders just went up 3-2. Watch the remainder of the contest on NBCSN.

Leafs pass Bruins for third in Atlantic after gutsy win against Columbus

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It wasn’t pretty – especially if you’re disgusted by that Roman Polak hit – but the Toronto Maple Leafs keep generating big wins as a playoff return looks increasingly likely.

Toronto managed a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, passing the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division:

Maple Leafs: 83 points in 72 games
Bruins: 82 points in 73 games

This leaves the currently in-action New York Islanders four points behind the Bruins for the final wild card in the East.

The Maple Leafs aren’t just grabbing key points; they’re doing so against some strong opponents who’ve had plenty on the line, too. They beat a Metro contender in Columbus tonight, the Bruins on Monday, grabbed an OT point against Chicago on Saturday and handled the desperate Lightning last Thursday.

This game was all about William Nylander‘s brilliant start:

And also Toronto surviving a long penalty kill after that Polak hit:

Nazem Kadri‘s 30th goal really put the game out of reach, helping Toronto nab a significant victory.

The Blue Jackets can wallow in this defeat and Oliver Bjorkstrand‘s injury, either, as they turn around to face the Washington Capitals in a big one tomorrow.