Vladislav Gavrikov

NHL voids Grigorenko deal with Blue Jackets due to CBA rules

Mikhail Grigorenko’s three-year stint in the KHL is over.

The 25-year-old signed a one-year, $1.2 million deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday, as announced by his agent,  Dan Milstein.

Grigorenko spent the last three seasons with CSKA Moscow, where he scored 19 goals and 41 points in 47 games during the 2019-20 campaign.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the Russian forward left serious money on the table to come back to North America. Friedman mentioned that one of the KHL offers on the table was for double the amount of money he signed for in Columbus.

Grigorenko was drafted 12th overall by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2012 NHL Draft. He last played in the NHL with the Colorado Avalanche during the 2016-17 season. He posted 10 goals and 23 points in 75 games during his most recent season in North America. Grigorenko played 217 NHL games with Buffalo and Colorado, and he picked up 22 goals and 64 points in 217 games.

Grigorenko’s combination of size and skill has led to him getting multiple chances at the NHL level. He’s listed at 6-foot-2, 213 pounds and he’s been an offensive player at every level.

As TSN’s Bob McKenzie mentions in the video at the top of the page, Grigorenko was once considered the number two prospect in the 2012 draft class. That’s how skilled he was. Can he figure it all out now that he’s older? Maybe. Either way, this is a low-risk signing for the Jackets.

He and Columbus defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov has played together internationally for Russia. Having Gavrikov around might help Grigorenko stay focused on the ice.

UPDATE: Not so fast? The NHL rejected the contract. TSN’s Bob McKenzie has more on what may be a temporary holdup … or not?

The Blue Jackets put out a press release that backs up McKenzie’s assertions:

Earlier today, the Columbus Blue Jackets announced the signing of forward Mikhail Grigorenko to a one-year contract for the 2020-21 National Hockey League season. The contract subsequently has been rejected by NHL Central Registry due to a misunderstanding with regards to the filing window. We have been in contact with the league and Dan Milstein, Grigorenko’s agent, and the contract will be filed on July 1.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

What is the Columbus Blue Jackets’ long-term outlook?

With the 2019-20 NHL season on hold we are going to review where each NHL team stands at this moment until the season resumes. Here we take a look at the long-term outlook for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Pending Free Agents
Josh Anderson (RFA)
Gabriel Carlsson (RFA)
Pierre-Luc Dubois (RFA)
Vladislav Gavrikov
Jakob Lilja (RFA)
Joonas Korpisalo (RFA)
Ryan MacInnis (RFA)
Elvis Merzlikins (RFA)
Devin Shore (RFA)
Kevin Stenlund (RFA)

The Core

The Columbus Blue Jackets do not have the elite goal-scorer or dangerous playmaker that top-tier NHL teams have, but they do possess a few critical components of their foundation to build a long-term successful roster.

Zach Werenski and Seth Jones anchor the Blue Jackets’ blue line and make up one of the top defensive pairings throughout the NHL. Their steady play helped goaltender Joonas Korpisalo become an All-Star this season and Elvis Merzlikins look like a seasoned veteran in his rookie season between the pipes.

Pierre-Luc Dubois continued his development as a top-line center and was in position to match his 61-point total from a season ago. However, Cam Atkinson and Josh Anderson’s production dropped off dramatically. Atkinson only netted 12 goals in 44 games this season, while Anderson scored one time in 26 games. Both players missed time with injuries this season (along with most of the Blue Jackets’ roster) but couldn’t produce offensively the way they have in the past.

Despite Sergei Bobrovsky and Artemi Panarin leaving the organization last summer, the Blue Jackets remained in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race up until the NHL Pause a few weeks ago.

The experience gained in the spring of 2019 when the Blue Jackets secured a playoff spot and won a series for the first time in franchise history paid dividends for the team this season.

Long-Term Needs

The Blue Jackets averaged 2.57 goals per game in the 70 games they played this season and desperately need to add more playmakers. The lack of production from Atkinson and Anderson hurt dramatically and injuries contributed to them becoming one of the bottom-five teams in goals per game this season.

One area of concern is depth at the center position. Dubois is on track to become a building block every successful team needs in the middle, but the roster lacks playmakers behind the promising young player.

Alexandre Texier showed promise this year before a back injury derailed his season and John Tortorella believes he could fill a gaping hole in the lineup.

“The thing I like about Tex is I think he understands how to play low in that (center) position,” Torts told the team website. “A lot more comes into play as a centerman when you don’t have the puck in your end zone, a lot more reads like a defenseman, and I think he has the intelligence to do that.”

Columbus does not have the sexiest roster in the NHL, but they do have the right pieces of the puzzle to be a playoff team for the next several seasons.

Long-Term Strengths

While Tortorella’s antics during press conferences have been entertaining, he had one of his strongest seasons behind the bench and proved to be one of the NHL’s best bench bosses. The Blue Jackets did not have a 50-point scorer and proved to be greater than the sum of their parts with a strong season following a tumultuous summer.

The Blue Jackets sustained a league-leading 15 overtime/shootout losses (including a mistake which produced an epic postgame press conference) and could have pulled away from a crowded playoff wild-card race if a few of those outcomes went their way.

Jones and Werenski are two world-class defenders and Dubois is growing into a dynamic center but Columbus needs to fill out its roster. The Blue Jackets’ front office must find the right corresponding pieces to skate alongside their foundational players in order to take the next step as a franchise.

MORE:

Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.

The Buzzer: Lightning win ninth straight; Smith’s hat trick powers Predators

Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy #88 and Brayden Point #21 of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrate
Getty Images

Three Stars

1) Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning

Vasilevskiy extended his point streak to 20 games after a 29-save performance in the Lightning’s 3-1 win against the Edmonton Oilers. The Russian goaltender improved to 18-0-2 during the impressive streak. The Bolts have erased a slow start thanks to a 10-game winning streak at home and a 21-2-1 record in their past 24 games. The Boston Bruins currently have a one-point advantage in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference standings on the surging Bolts.

2) Zach Sanford, St. Louis Blues

A four-goal performance wasn’t enough to help the Blues escape Las Vegas with two points, but was a career night for the forward, nevertheless. Sanford scored in a variety of ways around the net and added a wicked wrist shot to cap off his excellent performance. Sanford gave the Blues a one-goal lead with 8:15 remaining in the final period, but the Golden Knights found a way to tie the game and notch the overtime winner. It was St. Louis’ first game since Jay Bouwmeester’s medical incident on Tuesday.

3) Craig Smith, Nashville Predators

Smith’s first career hat trick helped Nashville snap a two-game losing streak. Juuse Saros made 31 saves and collected his second shutout of the season in the Predators’ 5-0 win against the New York Islanders. Smith buried a sharp-angled shot to open the scoring 35 seconds into the game. He later wired two wrist shots from the slot to complete the hat trick. The 30-year-old has five goals in the previous three games.

3A) Mikael Backlund, Calgary Flames

In a 6-0 rout against the Anaheim Ducks, Backlund scored twice as the Flames picked up their third win in the previous five games. The Swedish centerman benefitted from Michael Stone’s spinning pass midway through the opening period to give the Flames a 2-0 lead. Fast forward to late in the second period, Ducks forward Rickard Rakell floated a backhand pass from the point that Backlund easily intercepted. Backlund raced up ice and converted a neat deke to his backhand to help the Flames run away with this one.

Other notable performances

  • James van Riemsdyk recorded a goal and an assist in the Flyers’ 6-2 win against the Panthers.
  • Artemi Panarin had a goal, an assist and shootout tally as the Rangers collected their third straight win.
  • Wayne Simmonds scored twice as part of a four-goal third period in the Devils’ 4-1 win against the Red Wings.
  • Tyler Seguin ended a 17-game goal drought in the Stars’ 3-2 win against the Maple Leafs.
  • Jack Eichel had a goal, an assist and a beautiful set up for Victor Olofsson for the overtime winner.

Highlights of the Night

Jack Eichel raced past a defender in overtime, then stopped on a dime and set up Victor Olofsson for the overtime winner.

Auston Matthews fired a laser past Ben Bishop to tie David Pastrnak for the NHL scoring lead at 41 goals.

Smith picked Nick Leddy‘s pocket, then found an opening from a sharp angle 35 seconds into the game.

Vladislav Gavrikov found Nathan Gerbe trailing the play when the Blue Jackets took a one-goal lead in final minute of opening period.

Panarin showed great patience with this impressive deke, but should it have counted?

Stats of the Night

Scores

Buffalo Sabres 4, Columbus Blue Jackets 3 (OT)

Dallas Stars 3, Toronto Maple Leafs 2

Tampa Bay Lightning 3, Edmonton Oilers 1

Philadelphia Flyers 6, Florida Panthers 2

New Jersey Devils 4, Detroit Red Wings 1

Ottawa Senators 3, Arizona Coyotes 2

New York Rangers 4, Minnesota Wild 3 (SO)

Nashville Predators 5, New York Islanders 0

Washington Capitals 3, Colorado Avalanche 2

Vegas Golden Knights 6, St. Louis Blues 5 (OT)

Calgary Flames 6, Anaheim Ducks 0


Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.

Blue Jackets suffer worst injury yet: Seth Jones out 8-10 weeks

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The Blue Jackets received their worst injury news yet: Seth Jones is expected to miss 8-10 weeks after surgery. The surgery addressed a sprain and hairline fracture of his ankle. It’s the latest bit of injury news on a tough Tuesday for such updates.

Seth Jones injury likely keeps him out of Blue Jackets playoff push

If that recovery window holds, Jones would miss the remainder of the regular season (which ends on April 4). Hockey players sometimes beat even optimistic recovery windows, though, so we’ll see.

Jones suffered the injury during this play on Saturday:

Jones leads the Blue Jackets in average time on ice (25:17), ranking sixth overall in the NHL. Jones earned his third All-Star appearance in 2019-20, generating 30 points in 56 games.

John Tortorella must find a way to replace a versatile player, not just a star. Jones spends almost as much time on the PK (2:25 SH TOI per game) as he does on the power play (2:34).

It will be interesting to see who steps up in Jones’ jarring absence. Zach Werenski has already been logging more than an extra minute of ice time per night (23:44 to 24:52) since Ryan Murray went down with an injury, with David Savard and Vladislav Gavrikov seeing similar increases. We’ll see if Torts can spread out that added burden in a way that keeps the Blue Jackets competitive.

About the only (weak) argument you can muster is that perhaps Jones’ loss might be exaggerated by some. There are certain measures, such as Evolving Hockey’s RAPM charts, where Jones looks great, but maybe not mind-blowing:

Seth Jones RAPM injury

To clarify: I don’t think such an argument goes very far, aside from maybe if you’re trying to choose between Jones vs. other of the NHL’s best.

The Blue Jackets have done a marvelous job limiting high-danger chances against (maybe carrying over from their sweep of the Lightning?). If the Blue Jackets can hang in there without Jones, it would be one heck of an argument for Torts as a Jack Adams candidate.

Banged-up Blue Jackets

Again, Columbus already faced waves of injuries this season.

Alexander Wennberg recently joined a list that includes Murray, Joonas Korpisalo, Cam Atkinson, Josh Anderson, Alexandre Texier, Brandon Dubinsky, and Dean Kukan. Jones shows that their injury list is a galling mix of quality and quantity.

The Blue Jackets deserve ample credit for hanging in the East playoff races, but they don’t enjoy much margin for error:

There are at least occasional reasons for optimism, mind you. Jackets Insider’s Jeff Svoboda reports that Anderson, Atkinson, and Korpisalo all were on the ice on Tuesday, if nothing else.

The larger point remains: it would be quite the story if the Blue Jackets can make the playoffs, especially after losing Jones.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

The Buzzer: Hat tricks for Acciari, Perron; Korpisalo owns Capitals

Getty Images

THREE STARS

1. Noel Acciari, Florida Panthers

The first hat trick of Acciari’s career helped Florida to a 6-1 rout of the Senators and ended the Panthers’ three-game losing streak. The three-goal night was also the first multi-goal game of his career.

2. Joonas Korpisalo, Blue Jackets

Korpisalo registered 30 saves and Oliver Bjorkstrand provided a pair of goals in the 3-0 shutout of the Capitals. The shutout was the third of Korpisalo’s career and he’s yet to lose to Washington in three career starts. Columbus’ win put head coach John Tortorella into 15th place all-time with 635.

3. David Perron, Blues

St. Louis scored four consecutive goals en route to a 5-2 win over the Avalanche. After going down 2-1 midway through the second period, the Blues scored twice in a 36-second span, with Perron tying the game on the power play. He’d complete the fifth hat trick of his career late in the third period with an empty netter to seal the victory.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NIGHT

• Acciari’s second goal came via some lovely dangling from Jonathan Huberdeau, who had four assists on the night. Huberdeau now has 400 points in 500 career NHL games:

Artemi Panarin is wondering how this puck did not cross the goal line:

SUPPLEMENTAL DISCIPLINE CORNER

Ryan Ellis on Pavel Buchnevich. Two-minute minor enough?:

• What about this hit by Tom Wilson on Vladislav Gavrikov?

NEWSY MONDAY
Taylor Hall gets dealt to the Coyotes

Hall is hoping to play some playoff hockey in Arizona
Kovalchuk and the Kings are finally breaking up
Crawford will return to Blackhawks bench from suspension on Jan. 2
Farabee gets suspended three games
POWER RANKINGS!

STATS OF THE NIGHT

SCORES
Predators 5, NY Rangers 2
Panthers 6, Senators 1
Blue Jackets 3, Capitals 0
Blues 5, Avalanche 2
Oilers 2, Stars 1

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.