Tag: Nathan Horton

Ryan Johansen

It’s Columbus Blue Jackets day at PHT


After a stellar regular season and inspired playoff appearance in ’13-14, Columbus took a step backwards last year by finishing 11th in the Eastern Conference, and missing the postseason.

Though there were extenuating circumstances.

The Blue Jackets led the league in man games lost to injury, with 502. Nathan Horton, once the organization’s biggest free agent acquisition, didn’t play a single game before being traded to Toronto while Ryan Murray, the No. 2 overall pick in 2012, missed 70 of 82 games while dealing with a myriad of injuries.

Other key players, like Boone Jenner, Brandon Dubinsky and Sergei Bobrovsky all missed extensive time as well. Despite that, there were bright spots — Ryan Johansen continued to post solid numbers, with a career-high 71 points, while Nick Foligno earned himself the club’s captaincy with a 73-point effort, tops on the team.

In the end, though, missing the playoffs proved a damaging blow to the momentum gained by their impressive run the year prior.

Offseason recap

Few teams made a bigger splash this summer. GM Jarmo Kekalainen stunned the league by acquiring budding Chicago star Brandon Saad, the 22-year-old power forward that won two Stanley Cups in his first three NHL seasons.

The Saad deal reverberated throughout the league. With him in the fold, Columbus created one of the youngest and most dangerous top lines in the NHL with Johansen (who only turned 23 in July) and whoever their running mate will be, be it Foligno or Scott Hartnell (or, possibly, 22-year-old Boone Jenner).

Elsewhere, the club added some veteran experience and leadership in the form of ex-Bruins forward Gregory Campbell. Kekalainen also re-upped with the likes of Matt Calvert, backup goalie Curtis McElhinney and depth d-men Justin Falk and Cody Goboulef.

At the draft, Columbus was a major player with three top-40 picks, and used them to select Michigan d-man Zach Werenski (eighth overall), Swedish blueliner Gabriel Carlsson (29th) and WHL Portland product Paul Bittner (38th).

Poll: Has the Bruins’ Stanley Cup window closed?

Calgary Flames Vs. Boston Celtics At TD Garden

Back in 2013, the last time the Bruins made the Stanley Cup Final, their leading playoff scorers were, in order, David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton, Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, Brad Marchard, Jaromir Jagr, Daniel Paille, Tyler Seguin, and Johnny Boychuk.

Of those 10 players, only four — Krejci, Bergeron, Chara and Marchand — remain on the roster. And Chara is 38 years old now.

Add to the fact Dougie Hamilton is gone too, plus the fact the Bruins missed the playoffs last year, and it’s no surprise that many feel their Cup window has closed.

But you won’t hear new GM Don Sweeney say that. Not with youngsters like Jimmy Hayes, Brett Connolly, Ryan Spooner, David Pastrnak, and Alex Khokhlachev up front. And not after picking up 27-year-old Matt Beleskey in free agency.

Remember that the NHL is a young man’s league. Teams that aren’t constantly refreshing their lineups are teams that get into trouble.

“I don’t think it’s a rebuild. We didn’t strip this down,” Sweeney said in June, per NHL.com. “We have a tremendous core group of guys that are going to obviously carry an even heavier load here in the short term while these other kids can come in and start to take footing.”

OK, time to vote:

Related: Zach Trotman is looking to make the leap

Looking to make the leap: William Nylander

William Nylander

Head coach Mike Babcock has predicted that “there’s pain coming” to Toronto, which is pretty much all Maple Leafs fans have known during the salary-cap era anyways. But as difficult as the 2015-16 campaign might be, their fans also have some reasons to be optimistic, with one of the big ones being forward William Nylander.

Taken with the eighth overall pick in the 2014 draft, Nylander is coming off a strong and unusual season. He started with MODO of the Swedish League, but left Europe after scoring eight goals and 20 points in 21 contests. He reported to the AHL’s Toronto Marlies where he added another 14 goals and 32 points in 37 games.

That stint in the AHL was a big test for Nylander. Unlike most freshly drafted players, he already had experience playing against men in Sweden, but this was an opportunity to get used to a North American travel schedule as well as adjust to a more physical style of play.

His success under those conditions certainly helped his cause, but he still has a lot of work ahead of him in order to secure a roster spot with the Maple Leafs. Toronto already has 13 forwards signed to one-way contracts (not including Nathan Horton) and some other forward prospects that should get serious looks during training camp, including Kasperi Kapanen, Mitch Marner, and Zach Hyman. Ultimately, what his physical conditioning is like by the start of training camp could go a long way towards determining how well the 19-year-old will do against that level of competition.

“You don’t worry about his speed, you don’t worry about his skill,” Leafs assistant general manager Kyle Dubas said of Nylander, per the Toronto Sun. “You just worry about him, as you would with any 18- or 19-year-old, being strong enough.”

Perhaps having more time to work on his conditioning will prove to be the best route for him, but Nylander could nevertheless force the Maple Leafs to make some tough decisions.

Trade: Jackets land Saad; Anisimov and Dano headed to Chicago

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Six

Last week Blackhawks’ captain Jonathan Toews acknowledged the team’s cap crunch, saying it feels a lot like 2010.

On Tuesday, the first domino fell.

The Chicago Blackhawks sent forward Brandon Saad and prospects Michael Paliotta and center Alex Broadhurst to the Blue Jackets in exchange for Artem Anisimov, Marko Dano, Jeremy Morin, Corey Tropp and a fourth round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.

The deal came after Bowman and Saad’s camp were unable to agree to a new contract. Saad’s three-year $2.8 million entry-level deal was set to expire on Wednesday, making him a restricted free agent, and (as suggested in the tweet above) there were rumblings about him potentially signing an offer sheet elsewhere.

“We’re very excited to bring Brandon Saad, a 22-year old two-time Stanley Cup champion with great size, speed, power and the ability to score goals, to our organization,” said Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen. “He is a proven winner and exactly the kind of player we want as a Columbus Blue Jacket.”

Prior to the trade, Chicago had roughly $8 million in cap space to play with for the 2015-16 season.

The move is a stunner on a variety of fronts. Bowman repeatedly expressed confidence throughout this season — especially during the Stanley Cup Final — that he’d be able to re-sign Saad, the 22-year-old forward that looks to be a star in the making.

For Columbus, it’s a big, bold move and the second out-of-nowhere deal orchestrated by GM Jarmo Kekalainen. At last year’s trade deadline, Kekalainen stunned the hockey world by trading injured forward Nathan Horton to Toronto for David Clarkson, considered to have one of the league’s most undesirable contracts.

Report: Leafs would take a contract back in a Kessel trade

The Toronto Maple hold their post season media availibility and team President Brendan Shanahan holds a press conference to answer questions

There’s more than one way to grease the wheels for a big trade.

When it comes to the Toronto Maple Leafs and Phil Kessel, all sorts of details have been seeping through. Will Toronto need to retain some of his salary to make a move? Might Kessel block a trade that doesn’t suit his interests? Are the Buds asking for too much?

In his always-essential “30 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman notes that the Maple Leafs would be willing to eat salary in a more direct way: by taking a contract from another team to make a deal happen.

There are some caveats, though:

Toronto’s let it be known it will take salary back for Phil Kessel, but there is a limit. It’s got to be less (in term and value) than Kessel’s. The Maple Leafs are more interested in prospects and draft picks, but recognize that alone won’t get a deal done. Since the idea is to help create cap flexibility, it doesn’t make sense to receive a similar contract in return.

With an $8 million cap hit (not to mention $10 million in salary for 2015-16), it should be no surprise that the 27-year-old would be too expensive to trade for picks alone.

The Maple Leafs might need to get creative, and considering their deal for Nathan Horton’s dead money – not to mention other progressive recent decisions – it wouldn’t be shocking to see them jump through a few hoops to find a trade partner.

You know, assuming that the many rumors are true, of course.