Tag: Jeff Carter

Chicago Blackhawks v Columbus Blue Jackets

Can the Blue Jackets justify their big spending?


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.

Panthers leading goalscorer Bjugstad (back surgery) ‘feeling 100 percent’


For the most part, this was a tremendous year for Nick Bjugstad, who scored a career-high 24 goals and inked a six-year, $24.6 million extension.

The only downer was the way it ended.

In late March, Bjugstad underwent season-ending back surgery, a procedure that kept him out of Florida’s playoff push and from representing Team USA at the World Hockey Championships.

Thankfully for Bjugstad and the Panthers, recovery is going well.

“Basically, I’m feeling 100 percent,” Bjugstad said this week, per the Panthers website. “I don’t feel any tingling or soreness in my back. They just have to remind me all the time that you can’t rush it, you can’t overdo it right now.

“Just trying to get back into shape which is nice. I feel like I could play a game right now, but obviously they’re not letting me get to that extent.”

The club’s first-round pick (19th overall) at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Bjugstad has been rock solid for the Panthers sign becoming a regular last season, in what was his rookie campaign; the University of Minnesota product led the Panthers in points, with 38, and finished 13th in Calder voting.

This year, Bjugstad proved a quality scorer at even strength — his 17 goals put him on par with the likes of Ryan Johansen, Jeff Carter and Phil Kessel — and averaged a career-high 16:35 TOI under new head coach Gerard Gallant, while gaining invaluable experience from playing alongside veterans like captain Willie Mitchell and future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr, who joined the team at the trade deadline.

“Obviously a big help from the older guys, the team was a whole different dynamic, as far as leadership,” Bjugstad explained. “Who we had playing, we had a lot of winners, Stanley Cup winners on the team. It changed the whole morale and attitude of the team.

“It was good learning a lot from those older guys, they’re all really good with the younger guys. It did nothing but help me this year.”

The Ducks got Kesler for a game like Saturday’s


Yes, the Ducks have lost a Game 7 at home the last two seasons.

And yes, they have another Game 7 at home tomorrow versus the Chicago Blackhawks, with a trip to the Stanley Cup Final on the line.

But for one simple reason, what happened the last two years doesn’t have much predictive value, according to Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin.

“The last two years, we were a different team,” Beauchemin said. “We were a younger team. We added some players last summer that have been making the difference all year long for our team. Like I said, it’s not going to be the same Ducks that played Game 7 the last two years.”

Anaheim’s major offseason addition was Ryan Kesler, acquired from Vancouver to give the Ducks the kind of one-two punch at center that the Los Angeles Kings — the team that eliminated Anaheim last year on its way to winning the Stanley Cup — boast with Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter.

“I think I can fit into this team and be a good No. 2 behind Ryan Getzlaf,” Kesler said in June. ”I’m going to Anaheim to win a championship.”

Adding to the optimism created by the Kesler acquisition, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau remarked: “I’ve never coached a team in the NHL that’s had a second-line center that you’re going to have with Ryan Kesler.”

And for adding Kesler, as well as all the other moves he made, Ducks GM Bob Murray was named a finalist for NHL GM of the year.

So yeah, quite a bit on the line tomorrow in Anaheim. This is exactly why the Ducks got Kesler, for a game like this. To prove that, this year, things are different.

“Our goal wasn’t to get to the conference final. Our goal was to get to the Stanley Cup Final,” said Beauchemin.

“We have a chance to do that in Game 7 here.”

Related: Kesler gives Ducks the Selke Trophy type that Cup champs usually have