Banged up Blue Jackets add Jussi Jokinen off waivers

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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.

 

Report: Blue Jackets’ Jack Johnson requests trade

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Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson has requested a trade, according to Aaron Portzline of The Athletic.

The 31-year-old Johnson, who was traded from the Los Angeles Kings to Columbus six years ago next month, had been one of the team’s more relied-upon defenders, but this year things changed. He was leap-frogged on the depth chart and saw his minutes drop from the nearly 25 per night to 19:25. During Thursday’s loss to the Buffalo Sabres, he played just 13:43, his lowest of the the 2017-18 NHL season.

All parties involved — Johnson, his agent, Pat Brisson, and Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen — declined comment.

So why now? Johnson, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, isn’t unhappy, per Portzline, and would not have asked out if he was signed beyond this season.

From The Athletic:

But Johnson, who turns 31 on Saturday, is feeling enormous pressure to sign a multiyear contract when he hits unrestricted free agency July 1.

His well-publicized bankruptcy four years ago has cut sharply into his life savings, such that Johnson will need his next contract — and perhaps another one after that — to set up him and his family for the years after his career.

“He doesn’t have the nest egg that most 12-year NHL veterans would have, obviously,” the source said.

Per the bankruptcy settler, Johnson was granted $246,000 for “living expenses” this season and last. Over the next three years, he’ll keep $277,050.50 until the creditors are satisfied. But here’s where his next contract comes into play. Four of his creditors will take 10 percent of his future earnings if the next contract he signs is more than $4.5 million over a three-year span, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

A better situation coupled with better play would help Johnson build that “nest egg” through free agency this summer.

Who could Johnson help? Well, some team looking to help their depth might be interested, and while the blue liners is famous for his poor career possession stats, he can chip in offensively. In 45 games this season, he has two goals and seven points. He scored 11 goals over the last two seasons.

There are a number of other defenseman out there who could better serve teams this season as rentals — Mike Green, Cody Franson, to name two — but considering Johnson’s situation and play, he might be able to be had on the cheap.

UPDATE: Here’s what Kekalainen had to say about the report, via the Columbus Dispatch:

“It’s the same with him as anyone else on our team: We’ll make a trade if and when we have something that makes sense for the Blue Jackets.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

The Buzzer: Linus blankets Blue Jackets; KHL women’s dance party

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Player of the Night: Linus Ullmark, Buffalo Sabres

Quite a way for Ullmark to make his first start of 2017-18.

The 24-year-old set a new career-high with 44 saves against the Columbus Blue Jackets, helping Buffalo steal a 3-1 win. Only Artemi Panarin‘s beautiful goal beat Ullmark (or at least Ullmark and his post) during this game.

One wonders if Ullmark, 24, deserves a longer look with Buffalo or elsewhere. He generated an outstanding .928 save percentage in 26 AHL games this season, and while his NHL work has been sporadic, he’s been solid when called upon. What else does Buffalo have to lose, other than better draft lottery odds?

Highlight of the Night: Speaking of that Panarin goal …

Runner-up goes to Mark Jankowski, who poured it on for the Flames against the Lightning:

Dance Party!

Lowlight of the Night: Although, maybe a highlight because Kyle Okposo deserves some luck after last season’s health scares.

Factoid

The Hurricanes ended the Capitals’ home dominance, continuing their rise in the process:

Scores

Sabres 3, Blue Jackets 1
Hurricanes 3, Capitals 1
Flames 5, Lightning 1

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.

The Buzzer: Panarin, Jones lead late comeback for Blue Jackets

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Player of the night: Artemi Panarin, Columbus Blue Jackets

With five minutes to play on Monday night the Columbus Blue Jackets found themselves facing a 2-0 deficit in Toronto and seemed to be on their way to a tough loss.

Then, out of nowhere, the floodgates opened, they received a pair of quick goals from Jordan Schroeder and Pierre-Luc Dubois to send the game to overtime.

It was in overtime that the Blue Jackets got a goal from Artemi Panarin to complete the comeback and win their second game in a row (by a 3-2 margin) and third in the past four.

It was a big night for Panarin as he finished the game with five shots on goal, a 54 percent Corsi mark, and the overtime winner. The goal is Panarin’s 11th of the season and extends his team lead in scoring. He has been absolutely sensational for the Blue Jackets this season been exactly the sort of game-changing forward they needed.

His goal-scoring is not quite at the same level that it was during his first two seasons in Chicago, but the shot volume and possession numbers are there. Those two factors, combined with the sharp drop in shooting percentage, would seem to indicate he could be due for a big second half goal-wise if a few more bounces go his way.

Player Of The Night, Part Two: Seth Jones, Columbus Blue Jackets

Jones was a workhorse for the Blue Jackets on Monday and he deserves some attention as well. He played a team high 27 minutes (three more minutes than any other skater on the team), attempted nine shots, recorded two assists (including one on the game-winning goal in overtime) and finished as a plus-one. With him and Zach Werenski on the blue line the Blue Jackets’ defense has an outstanding duo that is going to lead that defense for the next eight-to-10 years.

Highlight Of The Night

The overtime winner, of course, as Panarin and Werenski complete the Blue Jackets’ comeback.

Highlight Of The Night, Part Two

Whether he intended to do this, or if it was just a good bounce to get the puck back so quickly, Mitch Marner used the skate of a Blue Jackets player to pass the puck to himself and it looked pretty cool.

Factoid Of The Night

James van Riemsdyk scored his 18th goal of the season in the losing effort. He remains on pace to to set a new career high in goals. His previous career high was 30 during the 2013-14 season. His current pace has him on track to score 34 this season.

Scores

Columbus Blue Jackets 3, Toronto Maple Leafs 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.

Blue Jackets score by committee to overcome Bailey hat trick

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At this rate, it could be a special month of December for Artemi Panarin of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Panarin came into Thursday’s game with five-assist and three-assist nights so far this month, totaling two goals and eight assists for 10 points in six contests. (You can check out footage of his remarkable five-assist performance in this post.)

It remains to be seen if tonight’s performance ranks among the best in his already-impressive December, but Panarin’s 20th assist – and Zach Werenski‘s 10th goal, already – looked so pretty and dominant, you’d almost think it was out of a video game.

Here it is in video form; the additional replays really sell just how long Panarin had the puck, and the fact that he essentially circled the entire New York Islanders’ defensive zone waiting for a recipient:

This GIF might capture it better, actually:

So far, Panarin’s been more of a distributor in Columbus after piling up 30 and 31-goal seasons in Chicago, as the slick Russian winger has seven goals and 20 assists (and counting?).

Werenski, 20, is looking to top what was already an impressive first impression in the NHL. During his rookie season, Werenski scored 11 goals and 47 points in 78 games (and also suffered a hideous facial wound). As of this writing, Werenski already has 10 goals (plus seven helpers), so a 20-goal sophomore campaign isn’t out of the question, even if he is unlikely to continue shooting like a forward.

As a reminder, John Tortorella is giving Werenski and fellow talented scoring defenseman Seth Jones more room to “rove,” as he told The Athletic’s Alison Lukan (sub required) back in early November:

“It’s staying involved even more on the offense,” Tortorella said. “It’s having enough guts when we’re rotating a puck offensively in the corner to go sneak down to the other corner so we can make an east-west play and spread the offensive zone.”

When you have players as talented as Panarin and Werenski bending the defense to their whim, it’s easy to justify taking chances. As you can see, the rewards of such risks can be rich.

Update: The Blue Jackets ended up winning the game 6-4, with Panarin collecting two helpers and Zach Werenski generated a goal and an assist in total. Ultimately, it was about Columbus getting offense from multiple sources, including Oliver Bjorkstrand‘s trio of assists.

Speaking of trios, John Tavares collected three helpers while Josh Bailey almost stole the show with a hat trick.

It wasn’t enough, though, as the Blue Jackets still won. That’s a pretty impressive hatty, though.

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.