Tag: Brandon Dubinsky

Nick Foligno

Nick Foligno is having himself quite the contract year


During the contentious Ryan Johansen negotiations, Columbus president John Davidson said the following:

“We understand the make-up of our team, we understand the CBA, we understand players deserve money and players deserve to be paid the way they should be paid and we’ll continue to do that.”

With that in mind, it’ll be interesting to see what happens with Nick Foligno.

The 27-year-old is a pending UFA and playing the best hockey of his life. Through 28 games he leads the Blue Jackets in scoring with 14 goals and 27 points, is getting a boatload of ice time (19:10 per game, up from 16:04 last season) and sits sixth in the NHL with seven power-play goals.

It is, as many have pointed out, quite the contract year.

There’s no denying Columbus wants to keep Foligno and Foligno wants to stay in Columbus. Per the Dispatch, agent Pat Morris has started negotiations with GM Jarmo Kekalainen.

“I’m happy that they’re talking,” Foligno said. “Hopefully they can get something done in a timely manner.”

But two key questions remain: 1) What can Foligno get from Columbus, and 2) What can he get on the open market?

The first question is interesting. For all their bickering with Johansen and Kurt Overhardt, the Jackets do have a history of rewarding players that have, for lack of a better term, “earned it.”

Brandon Dubinsky’s a good example. Viewed as a heart-and-soul guy, he netted a six-year, $35.1 million extension this summer, one Kekalainen called a “well-earned contract,” adding that Dubinsky “plays like we want every Blue Jacket to play.”

Is Foligno held in the same regard? One would think he’s close. He’s been a good foot soldier since coming over from Ottawa in the Marc Methot trade of 2012, and actually played more games in a Blue Jackets uniform (144) than Dubinsky (109).

It’s also worth noting Foligno returned from a knee injury during last year’s playoffs to score this huge OT winner in Game 4 versus Pittsburgh, one of the biggest goals in franchise history:

The open market, though, will be tantalizing.

Foligno’s in the last of a three-year, $9.25 million deal that carries a $3.08M cap hit. It makes him the sixth highest-paid forward on the team; one expects all those figures will rise if he’s back next season.

Columbus shouldn’t have any issues paying Foligno. Even if it needs to break the bank for pending RFA goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, there still would be plenty of money left over — and there’s no telling what additional financial relief could come on the Nathan Horton front if he’s unable to return from a severe back injury.

On the open market, though, Foligno could also score huge.

There just aren’t many guys going to market anymore. Depending on what happens with Chris Stewart and Mats Zuccarello, Foligno projects to be one of the premier forwards under the age of 30 and given some of the deals from last summer — like the $20M Benoit Pouliot got from Edmonton, or $27.5M Florida paid for Dave Bolland — well, the idea testing waters has to be tempting.

And make no mistake, Foligno has value. Aside from career-high offensive numbers, he’s also showcased his versatility over the last few years, frequently shifting between wing and center.

“There have been a lot of times the last three seasons where Nicky has ended up down low in coverage playing the wing,” head coach Todd Richards said, per the Dispatch. “He’s comfortable down there.

“We need that depth down the middle.”

There is a final option to consider here, of course. If Columbus can’t strike deal with Foligno and the trade deadline draws close, would it be willing to risk losing an asset for nothing in free agency? Remember, this is the same club that traded away Marian Gaborik at last year’s deadline — in a year where it made the postseason.

Just when you thought they were getting healthy, Jackets lose Hartnell (broken finger)

Ottawa Senators  v Columbus Blue Jackets

Winners of five straight, things were looking up for the Columbus Blue Jackets… which means something had to go wrong.

On Friday, it did.

The Jackets placed forward Scott Hartnell on injured reserve with a broken finger, suffered during Thursday’s 3-2 win over Washington. He’s expected to miss two weeks with the ailment.

Prior to getting hurt, Hartnell had six goals and 17 points in 28 games this year, averaging just under 18 minutes a night. The veteran winger had also been a catalyst during the club’s recent winning streak, with three points in the five wins.

The injury is also a step back for Columbus’ overall health. Despite returning a few bodies to the lineup — including alternate captain Brandon Dubinsky — the club is now facing a stretch in which it’ll be without Hartnell, Ryan Murray, Mark Letestu, Artem Anisimov and Fedor Tyutin. The team is also still without Nathan Horton, who has yet to play this season while dealing with a severe back injury.

In a move related to the Hartnell injury, Columbus recalled Kerby Rychel from AHL Springfield on Friday.

Bobrovsky on returning Dubinsky: ‘He drives us’

Brandon Dubinsky

As mentioned yesterday, the Columbus Blue Jackets expect Brandon Dubinsky to return to the lineup tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers. The team didn’t discount how much of a difference-maker he can be, as the Columbus Dispatch reports.

“Dubi, he’s our leader,” Sergei Bobrovsky said. “He drives us, the whole team. It’s a big thing that he is back.”

Dubinsky also “drives” play, as you can see from his strong possession numbers, even in heavy-lifting situations. Not many players can score in decent bunches, play a physical game and do the little things to move the puck in the right direction quite like the 28-year-old forward.

Columbus is 9-15-2 for 20 points without him, tying the Buffalo Sabres for the second-worst standings total in the league (although they do hold a game in hand). It’s possible that the Blue Jackets dug too deep a hole in the 26 games without Dubinsky to make a charge for the playoffs, but if it isn’t too late, Dubinsky can make a significiant difference.

The Blue Jackets are currently on a three-game winning streak, so things are looking up in general.

After 26-game absence, Dubinsky to make season debut tomorrow

Columbus Blue Jackets v Edmonton Oilers

Dubi’s back.

That was the news out of Columbus on Monday head coach Todd Richards announced that Brandon Dubinsky would return to the lineup tomorrow when the Jackets host the Flyers at Nationwide.

It’ll be Dubinsky’s first game of the season.

Dubinsky, one of the club’s alternate captains, has been sidelined since the exhibition campaign after undergoing abdominal surgery, one of the toughest losses for a Columbus team that’s been ravaged by injury this season. The 28-year-old was one of the Blue Jackets’ most valuable players a year ago, scoring 16 goals and 50 points in 76 games while averaging nearly 19 minutes a night.

In the club’s opening-round playoff loss to Pittsburgh, Dubinsky scored six points in six games and upped his TOI to 20:43 per night. He subsequently signed a six-year, $35.1 million extension with Columbus in July.

With Dubinsky back in the mix, the Blue Jackets should feel good about their game. The club is on its first three-game winning streak of the season and — while it’s still without Nathan Horton, Ryan Murray, Artem Anisimov, Mark Letestu and Fedor Tyutin — Columbus is somewhat healthier than its been in previous weeks, which is a step in the right direction.

Letestu has surgery, expected to be out six weeks

Mark Letestu, Matt Niskanen

Blue Jackets center Mark Letestu had surgery today to repair groin and abdominal injuries. The team said in a release that he’ll be out “approximately six weeks.”

Letestu, who last played Oct. 28, was originally expected to be out 2-4 weeks, but according to Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch, the 29-year-old had a setback last week during rehab, necessitating surgery.

That setback is just the latest bit of bad news for a Blue Jackets side that’s been decimated by injuries. In addition to Letestu, Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Murray, Fedor Tyutin, Artem Anisimov, and Cody Goloubef are all on injured reserve with various ailments. And that’s not counting Nathan Horton, whose career is in jeopardy due to a degenerative back condition.