Sure, the Columbus Blue Jackets stemmed some of the injury tide last season after a ridiculous run in 2014-15.
Even so, their most expensive player still can’t seem to stay healthy. Is there anyway to “fix” Sergei Bobrovsky after years of frequent groin injuries?
The Blue Jackets seem confident that consultant Nelson Ayotte can bridge the gap between the team’s medical staff and those responsible for strength and conditioning concerns, as GM Jarmo Kekalainen noted to the Columbus Dispatch.
“Nelson’s going to be evaluating and improving everything, right away,” Kekalainen said. “His impact is going to be felt right away. He’s coming in as a consultant, and Kevin is staying onboard. Together they’re going to improve everybody’s output, not just strength and conditioning but overall performance.”
Ayotte’s referred to as a “high-performance coach.” The role is being sold as a way to improve the way staff works instead of standing as a replacement.
As much as this is about improving the inner-workings of the staff, let’s be honest; the team specifically wants to get more out of their seemingly fragile $7.425 million goalie.
In that regard, Kekalainen said he wants Ayotte and Bobrovsky to get acquainted in “short order.”
Groin injuries rank among the trickier issues – how exactly do you avoid recurring problems there? – but credit Columbus for going the extra mile to try to turn things around.
For more background on Bobrovsky’s issues and how athletes recover from groin injuries, check out this Columbus Dispatch article from February.
One of the themes of this off-season has been the desperate rush for young, high-end defensemen. Many teams are practically tripping over their own feet to add one.
The Columbus Blue Jackets are different.
In acquiring Seth Jones for Ryan Johansen, a big part of their future is set.
On the other hand, the Blue Jackets lost a key component in Johansen: a true No. 1 center.
The Blue Jackets look like they’re heading into the 2016-17 season with the following pivots: Boone Jenner, Brandon Dubinsky, Alexander Wennberg and William Karlsson. GM Jarmo Kekalainen did his best to put a positive spin on the situation to the Columbus Dispatch.
“People might say that we don’t have a first-line center,” Kekalainen said. “But I think we have real solid, 200-foot centers.”
The spiciest bit came in Kekalainen asking Karlsson “Do you want to be a fourth-line center your whole life?”
(You should totally steal that line to annoy a friend or loved one when things really drag during the dog days of the hockey summer.)
One has to wonder how much heat Kekalainen is feeling right now.
Jones has a promising future, so much so that we may look at the Blue Jackets as the winner of that trade. Even so, the Blue Jackets are an awfully expensive team to lack a No. 1 center, a virtual prerequisite for Cup contention.
How far can you go with a “Grind it out” mentality? The Blue Jackets are about to find out, as that seems to be their identity, thanks in part to the makeup of some of their most prominent centers.
The Seth Jones extension was the big news of the morning in Columbus, but according to TSN’s Darren Dreger, the Blue Jackets have also signed Pierre-Luc Dubois to a three-year, entry-level contract. (It won’t be official until Friday.)
You might have heard that Dubois was drafted third overall on Friday, ahead of Finnish winger Jesse Puljujarvi. (Pretty big story that day.)
Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen has since told reporters that the 18-year-old forward has a “very good chance to compete for a spot on our team” next season.
Dubois, who believes he can be a “first-line center in the NHL” (and Columbus could use one of those, after trading Ryan Johansen for Jones) said Friday that he was confident the Jackets didn’t make a mistake by choosing him over Puljujarvi.
“Jesse is a really good player,” said Dubois. “Pretty much every guy in this draft is a really good player, but I’ve gained 40 pounds the past two years. I think my ceiling, my potential is still far away, so I have a lot to develop. I think over the next couple of years — that’s what I told every team — the next couple of years, I think now everybody is talking about the two Finns and Matthews No. 1, 2, 3, but in the next couple of years, I think I’d be in that discussion, too. I think I developed later than others, but they draft you for what you’re going to be in your prime and not what you are right now.”
BUFFALO — Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen wasn’t bluffing. The Blue Jackets have selected Pierre-Luc Dubois with the third overall draft pick.
That means the Blue Jackets did not select Finnish phenom Jesse Puljujarvi, who came into today’s draft as part of the so-called Big Three, along with the first and second overall picks, Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine, respectively.
Dubois, who turned 18 today, had 99 points in 62 games for QMJHL Cape Breton. He told PHT during the Stanley Cup Final that he thinks he can be a “first-line center in the NHL,” and that may have helped convince Kekalainen — who traded Ryan Johansen to Nashville for Seth Jones during the regular season — to take Dubois over Puljujarvi, a winger.
With the fourth overall pick, the Edmonton Oilers took Puljujarvi.
The Columbus Blue Jackets signed would-be RFA William Karlsson to a two-year contract on Thursday.
While the team didn’t explicitly state that it’s a $2 million deal in their release, they re-tweeted Rob Mixer of their website stating that it’s worth $1 million for each of the next two seasons.
The Swede generated 20 points in 81 games during 2015-16, his first full season with the Blue Jackets. As the 53rd pick of the 2011 NHL Draft, there’s some potential for growth going forward.
Really, though, it’s all an excuse to watch this strangely transfixing GIF:
In less positive news, the Blue Jackets aren’t quite there yet with Seth Jones: