Bobrovsky wants to move on from incident, but questions linger

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Considering how tight-lipped NHL players can be even about the most mundane subjects, Sergei Bobrovsky deserves credit for being patient with the media in addressing the incident that essentially prompted the Columbus Blue Jackets to unofficially suspend him for Thursday’s eventual win against the Predators.

Of course, this is the NHL and Jim Lites isn’t involved, so Bobrovsky’s comments aren’t the most candid, prompting us to read way, way too much into things.

As it turns out, there are definitely some interesting questions and non/semi-answers that linger in the air, even as Bobrovsky wants to “move on.”

(Warning: do not take a shot for every time that phrase is uttered. This isn’t “Mad Men,” you can’t drink like that at lunch time.)

To review and to overthink things:

  • Most directly, Bobrovsky explained that he let his emotions get to him regarding Tuesday’s 4-0 loss to the Lightning.

Bob seemed to say that he “cleaned”/cleared the air, and began the festival of move-ons.

(By the way, Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen joined that party, as he told The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun: “Matter resolved, we are moving on.”)

Bobrovsky then said it would stay in the room, which follows the pattern of the Blue Jackets handling the situation in the vaguest way possible.

  • One big eyebrow-raiser came when Bobrovsky asked (around the 1:15 mark) if he wanted to stay in Columbus for the rest of the year.

“Well, I am here.” Bobrovsky said. “And I will play here. I will do my best as I’ve done for this team, this organization, for these fans, for this city. I’ve been working hard, and I will continue to do that.”

Interesting semi-answer, right?

This does little to curb speculation that Bobrovsky wants out of Columbus, and might not be happy. Elliotte Friedman speculated as much during an appearance on Sportsnet’s Starting Lineup on Friday, reporting that Bobrovsky has been “unhappy all year.”

  • When asked if he thought the suspension was right, Bob merely said “It doesn’t matter” and essentially what happened, happened. (And, yes, that he wants to move on.)

It’s a professional response, yet he’s not exactly absolving the organization of criticism there. Interesting.

  • One of the funnier moments came when Bobrovsky looked perplexed around the 2:22 mark. He was asked if anything came back to a different loss to Tampa Bay, which was an 8-2 defeat way back on Oct. 18. Fun comic relief, if you’re a Blue Jackets fan wiping sweat from your brow right now.
  • It remains unclear if there’s a rift with coach John Tortorella.

When asked if his relationship is the same with Tortorella as it had been in past seasons, Bob said “Torts is Torts. He’s an honest guy … and will do what he believes his best for the team.”

That’s nice, but what about what he’s doing for the starting goalie?

***

This incident is prominent not just because of the air of mystery surrounding why Bob was suspended, and not even because Torts can be one of the most entertaining coaches in the NHL when it comes to comical meltdowns and golden one-liners.

It’s fascinating because of just how unusual this situation is.

Bobrovsky is a two-time Vezina winner, yet Bob and the Blue Jackets haven’t won a single playoff series. Bobrovsky and star winger Artemi Panarin are on expiring contracts, so the team is in an extremely tough spot, especially if free vodka for life, free dental work, and an extension aren’t enough to keep Panarin around.

Losing Bobrovsky for nothing isn’t ideal, especially if the Pittsburgh Penguins or Washington Capitals once again frustrate the Blue Jackets in the playoffs. Then again, what happens if Columbus trades away Bob? While he hasn’t been his world-stopping self in 2018-19, Joonas Korpisalo hasn’t exactly looked like the goalie of the future they were hoping for.

The Blue Jackets are dealing with an extreme set of challenging circumstances here, and while Bobrovsky technically says more or less the right things, it’s tough to argue that he’s actually happy right now.

Such happiness absolutely matters because Bobrovsky could shoot down potential trades with his no-movement clause. Yeah.

Whether the Blue Jackets like it or not, this matter is far from resolved.

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.

Saad, Jackets working on an extension ‘as we speak’

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The Columbus Blue Jackets are wasting little time trying to get newly acquired forward Brandon Saad inked to a new deal.

Jackets’ GM Jarmo Kekalainen told reporters on a conference call that they were working on an extension with Saad “as we speak”.

According to Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch, Saad’s agent Lewis Gross hopes to have a long-term extension signed tonight.

Saad’s three-year, $2.8 million entry-level deal expires tomorrow making him a restricted free agent.

Kekalainen also told reporters that an offer sheet on Saad prior to the trade was “not in our plans”.

Saad scored career-high 23 goals and 52 points in 82 regular season games with the Blackhawks. He added 11 points in 23 playoff games winning his second Stanley Cup.

As for where Saad fits in amongst the Jackets’ forward group, Kekalainen feels he’s a “very good candidate” to play on Ryan Johansen’s line next season.

According to Generalfanager.com, the Blue Jackets currently have $13.4 million in cap space to work with heading into free agency.

Related: Bowman on negotiations with Saad: ‘I don’t think we ever came close’

Deadline approaching for Jackets to sign prospect Peter Quenneville

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The Columbus Blue Jackets have already lost prospect goaltender Oscar Dansk who decided to sign in the Swedish Hockey League earlier this week.

According to Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch, the Jackets are now in danger of losing Peter Quenneville.

GM Jarmo Kekalainen tells Portzline the Jackets are still uncertain about signing the forward.

If Quenneville isn’t signed by June 1, he is eligible to go back into this year’s draft.

The 21-year-old has spent parts of two seasons with the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League after leaving Quinnipiac University during the 2013-14 season. He had 27 goals and 75 points in 72 games this season.

Quenneville, who is the second cousin of Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville and nephew of Islanders’ defenseman Johnny Boychuk by marriage, was the seventh round selection of the Jackets (195th overall) in 2013.

Erixon to make his Blackhawks debut vs. Calgary

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Newly acquired defenseman Tim Erixon will make his Blackhawks debut tonight as Chicago plays host to the Calgary Flames.

Erixon was acquired Sunday morning from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Jeremy Morin.

Erixon said he was woken up by Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen, who broke the news he had been dealt.

“I just got a phone call in the morning, woke me up. Just tried to pack up as quick as possible and get to the airport,” said Erixon. “Of course your’e surprised, I just woke up. I wasn’t really aware what was going on.”

Though he was surprised to be dealt, he knew a move was coming.

“I knew something was going to happen. We (had) nine, 10 (defensemen) there so something was going to happen,” he said. “I didn’t know if it was going to be me or who it was going to be, but I knew… I figured something had to happen.”

According to the Blackhawks, Erixon will be partnered on the left side with Michal Rozsival tonight.

The 23-year-old had a goal and five assists in 19 games with Columbus this season.

Originally a first-round pick (23rd overall) of the Calgary Flames in 2009, Erixon has appeared in 70 career NHL games with the New York Rangers and Columbus Blue Jackets where he has one goal and 13 points.

In a corresponding move, Chicago returned defenseman Klas Dahlbeck to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League. Dahlbeck appeared in four games for the Blackhawks registering his first career NHL goal Thursday night against the Boston Bruins.

Report: Perron could be headed to Columbus

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On Sunday afternoon it was reported Oilers forward David Perron’s name has surfaced in trade talk.

It appears the Oilers may have found a taker.

TSN’s Aaron Ward is reporting that the Columbus Blue Jackets and Edmonton Oilers have had discussions on a trade, which would see Perron head to Ohio in exchange for center Artem Anisimov.

As Ward points out, both John Davidson and Jarmo Kekelainen were with the St. Louis organization when the Blues selected Perron.

Perron, 26, was the Blues’ first-round pick (26th overall) in 2007. He has 30 goals and 67 points in 99 games since joining the Oilers in a July 2013 trade, which saw Edmonton send Magnus Paajarvi and a 2014 second-round pick to St. Louis.

Anisimov, 26, was the Rangers second-round pick (54th overall) in 2006. The center was dealt by New York to Columbus in the Rick Nash trade during the 2011-12 season. Anisimov has two goals and six points in 14 games this season.