Columbus has been without a captain since Rick Nash departed three years ago but, according to team president John Davidson, a Blue Jacket will have a “C” on his jersey this fall.
“We know who it’s going to be,” Davidson said, per Columbus Business First. “We’ll name a captain by the start of next season and that’s a step forward.
“He’s popped, he’s a person that’s carried himself with outstanding leadership.”
Per “informed speculation” from the Columbus Dispatch, Nick Foligno is the odds-on favorite to become captain (if there were odds on such a thing.) The 27-year-old is coming off a tremendous season in which he scored a career-best 73 points and was named a captain for the 2015 NHL All-Star Game — an event that Columbus hosted, and during which Foligno emerged as one of the faces of the franchise.
What’s more, Foligno will be with the Jackets for the long haul, having signed a six-year, $33 million extension in December.
Others in the mix, according to the Dispatch, include Boone Jenner, Scott Hartnell, Brandon Dubinsky and Jack Johnson — Ryan Johansen, interestingly enough, wasn’t among the “favorites” despite being arguably the team’s best player and biggest star. It’s possible his contentious holdout this past fall remains an issue; he’s also only 22 years old and has less than 300 games of NHL experience.
Stepan scores at end of third, OT to stop Jackets’ win streak at nine
This was a back-and-forth game, but with the clock approaching zero it seemed former Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky’s third period goal would prove to be the game-winner. It certainly looked like it would be after Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky made an absolutely stunning save on a shot by New York defenseman Dan Girardi with less than a minute left in regulation time.
Bobrovsky’s heroics were spoiled though by a goal from Derek Stepan with roughly 28 seconds left.
Stepan did it again by scoring the winner with less than a minute remaining in overtime.
With that New York has won four straight games to improve to 51-21-7 this season. That winning streak has given them a clear edge in the Presidents’ Trophy race:
Take Cam Atkinson’s name off the trade deadline target list.
On Monday, the Jackets announced they’ve signed Aktinson to a three-year, $10.5 million contract extension, one that carries a $3.5M average annual cap hit.
Atkinson, 25, has been a solid contributor in Columbus over the last two seasons. He was a pending RFA — carrying a $1.15 million cap hit — and looked to be in line for a raise; Atkinson scored a career-high 21 goals and 40 points last year and is averaging over 17 minutes a night this season (another career-high).
The new salary breakdown, per ESPN:
Atkinson deal year by year, $2.5 M, $3.5 M, $4.5 M
In 58 games this year, Atkinson has 13 goals and 25 points. This new deal will keep him in Columbus through the 2018 season, making him a long-term guy along with the likes of David Clarkson, Scott Hartnell, Nick Foligno, Brandon Dubinsky, Fedor Tyutin and Jack Johnson.
Video: Jackets’ Johansen with an open ice hit on Crosby
Playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs was a boyhood dream for David Clarkson, but it quickly became a nightmare. It’s not too surprising that he’s glad to get a (relatively) clean slate with the Columbus Blue Jackets, then.
“I’m looking forward to hitting the reset button,” Clarkson said. “The way they want to play the game? … that’s my style of game.”
At their best, the Blue Jackets can be a relentless opponent, which is indeed the kind of mindset Clarkson deployed during his greatest moments in his stint with the New Jersey Devils. That power forward style was largely inhibited in Toronto, and the fault was largely his own (even if injuries and suspensions didn’t exactly make things easier).
PHT’s Dhiren Mahiban caught up with Leafs GM Dave Nonis, who backed up the notion that things just didn’t seem to click for the 30-year-old in Toronto.
“Sometimes players, for whatever reason, don’t fit in a certain city or certain organization,” Nonis said. “I believe in David, I think he’s going to go there and play well. I think he’s going to go in there and fit in with that group and have the impact there that we had hoped he would have here, but we were in a situation where it wasn’t working out as well as we had hoped or as he had hoped.”
He may already enjoy a fairly prominent role if Brandon Dubinsky’s injury is significant. Either way, it’s the kind of deal that makes financial sense for both teams … and might just open the door for Clarkson’s redemption.
As far as when that turnaround may begin, it sounds like that’s a work in progress at the moment.
New #CBJ F David Clarkson just finished tucking his two young kids into bed. Waiting by the phone for visa clearance to head to Columbus.