Tag: Columbus Blue Jackets


It’s Ottawa Senators day at PHT


Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Ottawa Senators.

Ottawa’s 2014-15 campaign was one for the record books.

Thanks to a remarkable 23-4-4 run down the stretch, the Sens staged a furious comeback to make the playoffs, becoming the first team in NHL history to qualify for the postseason after sitting 14 points back.

“It was special,” said Kyle Turris, per Sportsnet. “So many things happened and so many guys stepped up. It was a real special run and we won’t forget and we’ll learn from ultimately going forward.”

It was a special run indeed, and one filled with emotion. The Sens dealt with adversity throughout the way; GM Bryan Murray was diagnosed with colon cancer, assistant coach Mark Reeds passed away just before the playoffs and owner Eugene Melnyk was gravely ill before a successful liver transplant.

From that adversity, some new stars came shining through.

Andrew “The Hamburglar” Hammond went from obscure backup goalie to one of the NHL’s best stories, posting a 20-1-2 record with a .929 save percentage. The rookie tandem of Mike Hoffman and Mark Stone carried the club offensively at times, with Stone finishing the runner-up for the Calder. Erik Karlsson won his second career Norris trophy, and Turris continued to emerge as a bonafide No. 1, playmaking center.

In light of all that, Ottawa’s season had to be considered a success, even with its disappointing opening-round playoff loss to Montreal.

Off-season recap

It was a quiet summer in Ottawa. All of the club’s young skaters — Hammond, Stone, Hoffman, Mika Zibanejad, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Alex Chiasson — were re-signed, and Murray did little in free agency.

At the draft, Murray sent goalie Robin Lehner to Buffalo (along with David Legwand), which gave him two first-round picks; the Sens then proceeded to select Quebec League d-man Thomas Chabot, and USNTDP product Colin White.

PHT Morning Skate: Quick details strengths of league’s top scorers

Jonathan Quick

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Jonathan Quick wrote a great piece on the strengths of some of the league’s biggest offensive threats. (The Players’ Tribune)

Columbus Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno feels the Brandon Saad acquisition is “a big statement.” (Bluejackets.nhl.com)

Speaking of Saad, he used his day with the Stanley Cup to bring it to the 911th Airlift Wing. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

The upcoming 2016 Winter Classic will be particularly special for Mass. natives Brian Flynn and Jimmy Hayes. (NHL.com)

By signing Sean Couturier to a six-year, $26 million, the Philadelphia Flyers are betting that he’ll grow his game offensively. (CSN Philly)

Ryan Murray: ‘I have to show up and prove it’

Ryan Murray

Ryan Murray’s injury log tells much of the story. Just 21 years old, he’s already missed huge chunks of time with knee and ankle issues. Last season, he was limited to just 12 games.

Suffice to say, this isn’t how it was supposed to go for the second overall pick in the 2012 draft.

Still, Columbus management has maintained that Murray has a bright future with the Blue Jackets — a sentiment the young defenseman appreciates.

“It’s great to hear that they have that confidence in me, but at the same time, I have to show up and prove it,” said Murray, per NHL.com. “Right now, I’m not thinking too much about opening night, I’m just thinking about the things I need to do on a day-to-day basis to get ready.”

Murray might not ever rack up points like some of the NHL’s elite d-men, but it was his all-around game that scouts raved about during his junior days with the Everett Silvertips.

If the Blue Jackets — with all their young talent up front, and with Sergei Bobrovsky in goal — are truly going to evolve into a Stanley Cup contender, they’ll need their blue line to play its part.

A healthy Murray, with the freedom to develop like most other young players are afforded, would sure help.

“We have a young team and every single one of us has something to prove,” he said. “We have the pieces in here, we all truly believe that.”

Related: Kekalainen ‘worried’ about Murray’s development after three injury-plagued years

Can the Blue Jackets justify their big spending?

Chicago Blackhawks v Columbus Blue Jackets

Much of the narrative surrounding the Columbus Blue Jackets revolves around what this team can do with even a reasonably clean bill of health. It overshadows a key question, though: can they live up to the hype?

The Columbus Dispatch’s Michael Arace shines a light on this situation, as the market isn’t accustomed to the Blue Jackets coming into a season with such aspirations.

So, Jackets fans ought to doff their cap to majority owner John P. McConnell. Whatever else one might say about the man, he has been willing to spend on talent. That is all one can ask of an owner. The rest is on management and on the players.

The first and last time the Jackets were a “cap team” was in 2011-12, after the big-ticket acquisitions of Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski. That team was a chic midsummer pick, too. Carter was a dog and begged out of town, but not before he poisoned the locker room. Then, Rick Nash asked for a trade for the (cough, cough) betterment of the franchise. That season was a disaster.

Interesting stuff, and it really does spotlight something many haven’t considered: the stakes are pretty high for this edition of the Blue Jackets.

Married to some pricey players

The Blue Jackets are under pressure to show that this roster will be competitive both in 2015-16 and in the future, as a ton of their contracts are hefty and long-term.

Brandon Saad ($6 million), Brandon Dubinsky ($5.8M), Nick Foligno ($5.5M), David Clarkson ($5.25M) and Scott Hartnell ($4.75M) all boast contracts that run through 2018-19 or later. Sergei Bobrovsky ranks as one of the NHL’s most expensive goalies with his $7.425 million cap hit. Ryan Johansen’s a huge steal right now at a $4 million mark, but a big upgrade is looming as his deal expires after the 2016-17 campaign.


Long story short, the picture is pretty clear. The injury angle screams “plenty of room to improve,” yet the Blue Jackets aren’t exactly in a place where they have nothing to lose.

In fact, the franchise might not be able to afford another disappointing season, lucky or not.

Ah, arbitration: Holtby reportedly asking for $8 million, Caps countering at $5.1 million

Braden Holtby

Braden Holtby is proposing an $8 million salary.

The Washington Capitals are suggesting $5.1 million.

That’s according to CBC Sports reporter Tim Wharnsby, as the the two sides are scheduled to go to arbitration on Thursday.

Now, obviously, Holtby doesn’t really expect to get $8 million, just the same as the Caps don’t expect to get the 25-year-old goalie for a bargain $5.1 million. That’s just how arbitration works. Each side makes the strongest case it can.

The NHL’s highest cap hit for a goalie belongs to Henrik Lundqvist, at $8.5 million. And hey, the Holtby camp could argue* that Holtby actually has the same career save percentage as Lundqvist (.921).

Of course, the Caps could point to Cory Schneider having a .925 career save percentage, and his cap hit is only $6 million.

According to the Washington Post’s Alex Prewitt, in regular negotiations, the Caps were offering around $5.5 million while Holtby was asking for $6.5 million.

*As noted in the comments, only comparables that cover RFA years can be used in arbitration. But the point stands: Holtby has very good career numbers. If not Lundqvist, he could argue he deserves what Sergei Bobrovsky, 26, will make in Columbus next season.