If the Columbus Blue Jackets enter the 2015-16 campaign with largely the same defense as last season, it won’t be because they didn’t try to make a big change.
Per Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch:
The Blue Jackets were in on trade talks concerning Dougie Hamilton before Boston sent him to Calgary, and they’ve contacted the St. Louis Blues about Kevin Shattenkirk. The Jackets also made a contract offer to free agent Paul Martin before he signed with San Jose.
Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen plans to keep looking, but it’s worth noting that Columbus is only about $4 million below the ceiling after signing Brandon Saad and Matt Calvert, per General Fanager. That’s not to say that Columbus can’t still acquire a top defenseman, but it’s more likely that it would have to involve the other team either retaining salary or taking a contract in order to make things work.
As things stand, the Blue Jackets have one of the cheapest defenses in the league as their money has instead flowed to their forwards and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. That’s thanks in part to the fact that blueliners David Savard, Dalton Prout, Ryan Murray, and Kevin Connauton each come with a cap hit of $1.3 million or less, but all of them will be restricted free agents next summer and the raises they might demand has to also be a consideration.
So ultimately Columbus might stick with what it has and hope Murray can stay healthy as the 2012 second overall pick has run into serious injury problems early in his career.
“To me, getting him healthy would be the best addition any team has made this summer,” Kekalainen said. “It would make a huge difference for us.”
The Calgary Flames’ eventful summer is no where near its conclusion and the decisions they make in the coming weeks could change the look of this franchise is big ways.
Now that the trade and unrestricted free agent markets have settled down, the Flames can shift their focus to internal roster matters and easily the highlight of them is defenseman Mark Giordano’s contract situation. He’s the captain, a workhorse, and if not for the biceps injury he suffered in February, he would perhaps be the reigning Norris Trophy winner as well.
His impact on this team is substantial and with just a year remaining on his contract, re-signing him this summer was previously listed as the team’s number one priority. But since then a report surfaced that the 31-year-old blueliner was seeking $9 million annually and the Flames acquired 22-year-old Dougie Hamilton and inked him to a six-year, $34.5 million deal.
While a strong addition, it’s intensified the questions about how Calgary will handle its cap situation beyond the 2015-16 campaign. If they re-sign Giordano, would they trade Dennis Wideman ($5.25 million annually) before his contract expires in 2017 to make room? Will it impact their ability to re-sign Jiri Hudler, who has a season left on his contract, in addition to giving Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau the big raises they’re likely going to justifiably demand next summer?
It makes their comparatively smaller, current RFA talks with Lance Bouma, Paul Byron, and Josh Jooris higher stakes as every dollar saved on potential multi-year contracts there is one they’ll still have for the bigger summer on the horizon. All three of them filed for arbitration, but can re-sign before their hearings.
It will also likely impact the Flames decisions when it comes to signing any of the remaining UFAs to multi-year deals.
Or as Flames GM Brad Treliving put it to the Calgary Sun: “You’re constantly monitoring the market, but from a priority standpoint, it’s time to get our house in order with our own people.”
Nicklas Backstrom is recovering from the arthroscopic hip surgery he underwent in May and while he should be able to skate during training camp, his overall timetable remains uncertain.
“Will he be ready for the start of the season? That part is up in the air right now,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said when asked about Backstrom’s availability on DC101’s Elliot In The Morning.
One of the concerns surrounding his recovery is his conditioning as Trotz noted that the 27-year-old forward will be limited in that regard over the summer, per CSN Washington. He consequently might be significantly behind his teammates in that regard come October even if he is otherwise healthy enough to play.
The Capitals initially projected that Backstrom would be “completely healthy prior to the start of the 2015-16 regular season.” However, Trotz’s update meshes with a report last month from Swedish news outlet Gefle Dagblad, which claimed that Backstrom could be sidelined for up to five months. The high end of that timetable would translate to a late October return.
He finished 2014-15 with 18 goals and 78 points in 82 contests. He hasn’t missed a game since the 2011-2012 campaign.