Mike Cammalleri

Banged up Blue Jackets add Jussi Jokinen off waivers

1 Comment

The Columbus Blue Jackets are dealing with a number of injuries up front with Brandon Dubinsky, Cam Atkinson and rookie Sonny Milano all currently sidelined for at least a few more weeks due to injury.

Atkinson is on long-term injured reserve due to a foot injury, while Dubinsky is out due to an orbital bone fracture.

The team also announced on Wednesday that Milano will now be sidelined for 4-to-6 weeks due to an oblique tear.

All of that has put a pretty significant dent in their depth and no doubt played a role in their recent slump that has seen them go 3-6-0 over their past nine games, a stretch that has seen them score just 18 goals (only two per game).

They attempted to address that in some way on Wednesday when they announced that they have claimed veteran forward Jussi Jokinen off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings.

“Jussi Jokinen is a player we know very well. He can line up at center or either wing, is good in the faceoff circle and can play on the power play and kill penalties,” Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said in a statement released by the team.

“He has been a very good player in the National Hockey League for many years and we believe he will add great experience and versatility to our lineup.”

It’s been a difficult season for Jokinen as he now joins his third team of the season. He started the season with the Edmonton Oilers after signing a one-year, $1.1 million contract in free agency. But after just 14 games and zero goals with the team he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for Mike Cammalleri. He played 18 games with the Kings, scoring one goal and adding four assists, before being placed on waivers.

Jokinen has been an underrated player for much of his career and had always been good for around 15 goals and 50 points over 82 games. Now that he is in his age 34 season that production has obviously declined.

But with the injury situation up front with Atkinson, Dubinsky and now Milano all sidelined the Blue Jackets were in desperate need of adding some additional depth. Given the low cost it is worth a shot to see if Jokinen can still provide something.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

 

The Buzzer: Another shutout for Bobrovsky; Kings make it eight in a row

Getty

Player Of The Night: Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets

Already with a pair of Vezina Trophies in his trophy case, Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky looks like he wants to add another one to his collection. Thanks to his 35-save effort on Saturday night against the Arizona Coyotes Bobrovsky was able to record his league-leading fourth shutout of the season. His save percentage after Saturday’s game sits at .930, a mark that is tied for the top spot in the league (minimum 15 appearances) with Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford.

Eight in a row for the Kings

It wasn’t easy, and they nearly let it slip away by giving up two goals in the final seven minutes of regulation to send the game to overtime, but the Los Angeles Kings extended their winning streak to eight games with a 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Tanner Pearson scored the game-winning goal in overtime.

Vegas Does It Again

Speaking of winning streaks, the Vegas Golden Knights were able to keep pace with the Kings in the Pacific Division by winning their fourth in a row with a 5-3 win over the Dallas Stars. They have already put together two five-game winning streaks this season and have a chance to do it again. They are an expansion team. It is early December. They have a shot at three five-game winning streaks in their first season and are likely headed to the playoffs. This is all astonishing.

Highlight Of The Night.

The Colorado Avalanche blew out the Florida Panthers on Saturday night with a 7-3 win. It also produced the highlight of the night when Nathan MacKinnon cruised through the Florida defense and scored this absolute beauty to tie the game, 2-2. The Avalanche would score five more goals after that.

He made that look easy.

The Panthers were happy to help, it seems.

Factoid Of The Night.

If Mike Cammalleri could play all of his games against the Montreal Canadiens this season he would be unstoppable. His goal on Saturday night in Edmonton’s 6-2 win over the Canadiens was just his fourth of the season. Three of them have come against Montreal. In three games against the Canadiens (with two different teams — the Los Angeles Kings and now the Edmonton Oilers) he has five points in those games. He has just six points against everybody else in the league in 22 games.

Panarin Offers Another Helping Hand

With his assist on the lone Blue Jackets goal Artemi Panarin has now assisted on each of the past six Blue Jackets goals. He set up all five of their goals in the Blue Jackets’ 5-3 win over the New Jersey Devils on Friday night. All six of those assists over the two games have been the primary assist on every goal. He is the Blue Jackets’ leading scorer with 26 points in the team’s first 30 games. He is eight points ahead of Josh Anderson, the second-leading scorer on the team.

Scores

St. Louis Blues 6, Detroit Red Wings 1

Boston Bruins 3, New York Islanders 1

Edmonton Oilers 6, Montreal Canadiens 2

Tampa Bay Lightning 4, Winnipeg Jets 3

Colorado Avalanche 7, Florida Panthers 3

New York Rangers 5, New Jersey Devils 2

Toronto Maple Leafs 4, Pittsburgh Penguins 3

Columbus Blue Jackets 1, Arizona Coyotes 0

Vegas Golden Knights 5, Dallas Stars 3

San Jose Sharks 5, Ottawa Senators 0

Calgary Flames 4, Vancouver Canucks 2

Los Angeles Kings 3, Carolina Hurricanes 2

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Latest Oilers mess: Eberle on ‘brutal’ Edmonton media

Getty
12 Comments

You don’t need to look very far to find gloom and doom surrounding the Edmonton Oilers these days.

Things are bad enough when you look at the standings, with the Oilers second-to-last in the West with 18 points in 23 games played. It’s not like the NHL’s goofy points system really does them any favors, either; the Anaheim Ducks are far ahead of the Oilers with 23 points in 22 games as the next team up the ladder.

Naturally, a letdown of this magnitude opens the door for criticism. PHT has gone in-depth on how this Oilers team went wrong, and how it’s as much about a faulty vision for successful hockey as it is about a run of bad luck. You could kill a chunk of today just reading about GM Peter Chiarelli’s many perceived trade failures.

Honestly, you almost get a little queasy just noticing the Oilers grasping at straws after losing to the struggling – but not quite as dire? – Buffalo Sabres last night. The Mike Cammalleri trade seemed like an opportunity to diversify the Oilers’ lines, but it still seems … less than optimal to use him with Connor McDavid in this fashion:

Still, a lot of these issues come down to mistakes made in assessing value and talent. They’re troubling, but things only get worse when it seems like there’s a toxic environment involved, on top of all of that.

Now, some of this is inevitable; when a team loses, the knives come out. And while there are cases in which a player requests a trade and thus feels refreshed, most of the time there will be hard feelings. Some of this fallout feels as natural as a columnist insulting a player on his way out with hot dog shaming.

In Taylor Hall‘s case, his time with the Oilers clearly stung, and it took him some time to recover. Jordan Eberle is going through a similar confidence rehab with the New York Islanders one season after Hall began his with the New Jersey Devils, and Eberle provided some remarkably candid insight to Sportsnet’s Tim Panaccio about his experiences.

To be more specific, Eberle admitted that he lost confidence in no small part to criticisms he’d read from the Edmonton media.

That full piece is absolutely worth your time, as Eberle shows that he understands part of the reason he was traded: a rough 2016-17 season, including some playoff struggles.

If it really did come down to the Oilers essentially panicking with Eberle, then they’ve been burned by a remarkably obvious case of a mere off year. At 27, Eberle remains in his prime range, and last season was the only time his shooting percentage has been an issue (9.6 percent last season vs. his 13.5 career average).

So far with the Islanders, Eberle’s finding splendid chemistry with emerging talent Mathew Barzal, and he’s scored eight goals (and 16 points) on 51 shots on goal. That’s (wait for it) a shooting percentage of 15.7 percent.

The comparisons only get more uncomfortable when you consider Ryan Strome‘s ups and mostly downs in Edmonton:

About the only real solace is if you try/strain to make the money argument, as Strome certainly is dramatically cheaper this season.

It seems strange to advance such a stance when the Oilers are clearly going for a Stanley Cup and might not have planned to have an estimated $8.67 million in cap space just lying around. (Hey, at least TSN’s Dustin Nielson is sticking up for a player, if nothing else.)

Things become more uncomfortable if you ponder a lousy combination for this franchise: inept management and, in Eberle’s words, media that can be “pretty brutal.” Moments like these explain why people rushed to Connor McDavid’s defense even as he legitimately struggled, as the worry was that blame was being passed from the front office to the superstar often carrying his team:

Really, it’s a chicken-and-the-egg argument; if you made a living assessing a team, wouldn’t you be critical of the Oilers? Of course, the debate gets more complicated if you believe that blame is being placed on the wrong shoulders.

It’s not a new phenomenon for the Oil. Hall was often a scapegoat in Edmonton, especially in times when there really was little talent beyond him. Sometimes it got a little weird when stories seemingly trumpeted Adam Larsson‘s superiority.

Tyler Dellow, formerly of the Oilers organization, wondered if the media in Edmonton is actually tougher than in Toronto in an interesting podcast with The Athletic’s Craig Custance. Dellow’s logic is reasonable: with the Oilers being an even bigger focal point of daily life in a smaller city, perhaps the spotlight burns even brighter than in Toronto, where the media apparatus is larger but there are more distractions?

That’s a debate for another day, really, but it’s worth noting that the Maple Leafs eventually turned things around by learning from their mistakes.

Part of that process comes down to realizing that change is needed. In the case of the Edmonton Oilers, it’s possible that there’s still a long way to go. Even with Connor McDavid around.

Update: At least one member of the Edmonton media provided his take, as Sportsnet’s Mark Spector responded on Twitter:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

PHT Morning Skate: Top 5 moments from Auston Matthews’ first 100 NHL games

Getty
Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

–The Dallas Stars have been hit hard by injuries lately. On Monday, they announced that Marc Methot and Martin Hanzal would both miss some time. Also, Kari Lehtonen is away from the team after he and his wife welcomed a baby boy into the world. (Wrongsideoftheredline.com)

Jay Bouwmeester, who has been out since the third day of training camp, is expected to return to St. Louis’ lineup tonight. “It’s been a long time, especially at the start of the year when you miss training camp. I’m excited and hopefully and I’ll just jump in and not interfere with what’s going on here.” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

–Sabres coach Phil Housley is trying to find solutions to help his team get back on track. Right now that includes mixing up the lines. Jack Eichel finds himself with Zegmus Girgensons and Jason Pominville, which seems like a bit of a demotion. (Buffalohockeybeat)

–Anton Rodin’s time with the Vancouver Canucks has officially come to an end, as he’s been placed on waivers with the purpose of terminating his contract. “Anton asked to be released from his contract,” said Jim Benning. “We value the skill and depth he adds to our team but ultimately it was important to respect Anton’s request to move on.” (Vancourier.com)

–Yes, the Edmonton Oilers are struggling this season. Some people want to blame Connor McDavid for that, but according to NHLNumbers.com, GM Peter Chiarelli should be the one taking the heat. (NHLNumbers.com)

–The swap Mike Cammalleri-for-Jussi Jokinen swap between the Kings and Oilers was nothing more than a weak attempt for both teams to try to get back on track. Don’t expect the move to help either side. (Fanragsports.com)

–Hall-of-famers Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne were honored prior to the game between the Ducks and Panthers on Sunday night. “It was just a perfect way to end a great week and a half,” Kariya said. “Just the most memorable time, certainly in my life and both of our lives. To spend it with Teemu and his family, it was icing on the cake. I’ll always remember the ovation.” (OC Register)

–Like all of us, Jets winger Patrik Laine is impressed by Selanne’s 76-goal rookie record he set in 1993. Laine can’t imagine anyone will ever touch that one. “Thirty-six, that was hard,” Laine said of his own rookie total. “So imagine if I had to score 40 more on top of the 36 I scored. I would say it’s pretty hard.” (NHL.com)

–Jets prospect Jack Roslovic is ripping it up in the AHL, but Winnipeg shouldn’t recall him yet. He needs more time to grow in the minors. (Jetsnation.ca)

–Preds forward Craig Smith had been doing all the right things on paper last season, he just couldn’t buy a goal for long stretches. Now, Smith’s hard work has paid off, as he’s finally starting to produce with a little more regularity. (Ontheforecheck.com)

–The pairing of Zdeno Chara and Charlie McAvoy has worked out well for Boston because there’s a terrific teacher and a willing student. What does Chara like best about his defense partner? “That he’s quickly able to adapt to our system and our game. We saw it in the playoffs [last season]. He stepped in and gave us a contribution right away. He didn’t seem to be nervous, or caught in a situation where he’d be distracted.” (ESPN.com)

–Filmmaker Damon Kwame Mason believes Willie O’Ree (first black player to play in the NHL) and Herb Carnegie (Jean Beliveau said that he was one of the best players to never play in the NHL) should both be in the Hockey Hall of Fame. (Colorofhockey.com)

–Swedish defenseman Rasmus Dahlin is the top prospect available for the upcoming NHL Entry Draft. How we he help every one of the struggling teams in the NHL? The Hockey News breaks it down for you. (The Hockey News)

–Canadiens goaltender Antti Niemi is already on his third team this season. Since he’s been on the move a lot, he’s decided to go with the plain white goalie mask. He should embrace the simple mask. (Puckjunk.com)

–How can the NHL spice up some of the stale rivalries in the league? Scottywazz.com believes that handing out a trophy could help. (Scottywazz.com)

Auston Matthews suited up in his 100th NHL game, so The Score breaks down the top 5 moments from his young career. To no ones surprise, the top moment came in his first game. (The Score)

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

New winger for McDavid? Cammalleri traded to Oilers, Kings get Jokinen

Getty
6 Comments

When the Los Angeles Kings acquired Mike Cammalleri, the move fit into a summer theme of veteran forwards returning “home” for dirt-cheap prices. Jussi Jokinen didn’t have the same history with the Edmonton Oilers, yet for a team with a penchant for paying way above market value for most of their players, it seemed like a refreshingly savvy bargain.

At least, that’s how those additions looked on paper.

It hasn’t always been that way on the ice, however, so the two teams made an interesting swap: Cammalleri goes to the Oilers, while Jokinen joins the Kings. Edmonton recently confirmed the deal:

The two forwards are in remarkably similar situations, at least in the most basic ways.

Cammalleri is 35 while Jokinen is 34; they’re less than a year apart if you get finicky about 365 days. Both players could play center in a pinch but are best kept on the wing considering age. They carry virtually identical cap numbers: Jokinen is at $1.1M and Cammalleri is at $1M, with both deals expiring after 2017-18.

So, yeah, this is pretty much a “pure hockey trade” in which two teams are exchanging “problems” and aiming at a solution.

If you go purely by this season’s numbers and consider the absolute peaks of both players, Cammalleri strikes as the sexier choice. He’s generated seven points in 15 games for L.A., which really isn’t bad when you consider the fact that he’s averaging just 12:38 of ice time per game. That said, his possession numbers have been rough, especially relative to his Kings teammates.

Jokinen is averaging about the same amount of reps as Cammalleri (12:19 TOI average), but hasn’t scored a single goal and has only managed one assist. On the other hand, Jokinen’s possession numbers give some hint that he might help the Kings in ways that are a bit more subtle.

The more fascinating question is: will their coaches use them differently in new locales?

If not, then both may suffer. Via Natural Stat Trick, Cammalleri’s most common forward linemate at even-strength was Trevor Lewis. Jokinen, meanwhile, often skated with struggling new Oiler Ryan Strome.

You could chalk up some of the scoring differences to usage; Jokinen averaged 1:11 of power-play time with Edmonton, while Cammalleri got a healthy 2:36 per night.

Looking back to last season, you could argue that both forwards bring something to the table, even if neither blow you away in many categories:

via Dom Galamini

The real question will be if they get a new lease on life, with Cammalleri being the most interesting strictly if Todd McLellan gives him a real chance with Connor McDavid. Even if Cammy is limited, possibly prompting McLellan to spread the wealth (i.e. maybe move Leon Draisaitl to his own line), this trade could be a big win in a more indirect way.

One must also acknowledge the injury risks, especially as it pertains to some of Cammalleri’s frustrations.

Overall, this might be a lateral move, with the Oilers getting someone with maybe a touch more shooting talent and the Kings adding someone who might help them hog the puck a bit more.

It’s also fairly interesting, too, so there’s that. Both teams play tonight, so we’ll see when these two debut in new uniforms.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.