Columbus ‘not worried’ about re-signing Johansen


This promises to be a big summer for the Blue Jackets and young star Ryan Johansen, but Jarmo Kekalainen expects it to go smoothly.

“I’m not worried about getting him signed,” the Jackets GM said, per the Columbus Dispatch. “I’m convinced we will. He’s a big part of our future.”

Johansen, 21, just wrapped the final year of his entry-level deal — and wrapped it in style. He enjoyed a breakout campaign and finished 11th in the NHL in goals, with 33, leading Columbus to its second-ever postseason appearance and first playoff wins in franchise history.

The sticking point, though, is that Johansen’s now a restricted free agent. As we’ve seen in the past with the likes of Derek Stepan, Nazem Kadri, Marcus Johansson and countless others, that first RFA contract coming out of an ELC can be a tricky one to negotiate — and there’s always the looming specter of an offer sheet to consider, too.

From the Dispatch:

The Blue Jackets would prefer a three-year contract, one that would expire when Johansen can only become a restricted free agent. But there is risk in waiting too long to sign a deal this summer.

As a restricted free agent, Johansen could sign an offer sheet with any NHL team if he’s not signed by July 1. The Blue Jackets could match the offer and keep Johansen, but it’s an expensive and risky way of doing business.

And Johansen — much like Bobrovsky last summer — seems a ripe candidate for an offer sheet, given his age, skill and position.

There’s no denying Johansen would be a hot commodity for a number of NHL clubs. The big-bodied center (6-foot-3, 223 pounds) had 63 points in 82 games this year and showed no signs of wilting in his first postseason appearance, scoring six points in six games against the Penguins.

That said, offer sheets are rare — just three have been signed in the last four years — and rarely work for the club looking to acquire the player; often times, the offer sheet does nothing more than cause a rift between general managers.

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?