Columbus enters the low season with uncertainty surrounding their two big-name unrestricted free brokers. However even when Panarin and Bobrovsky transfer on, the inspiration is in place for the Blue Jackets to have success subsequent season.Sergei Bobrovsky|Kirk Irwin/Getty ImagesAs he appears to be like over the season that was, Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen most likely can’t assist however marvel what might need been. And we’re not even speaking about what might need transpired had the on-ice officers not missed a blatant five-minute main to Charlie McAvoy in Sport 6 in opposition to the Boston Bruins. It’s exhausting to think about the Blue Jackets would have pulled a San Jose Sharks even when the penalty had been for 5 minutes as a substitute of two. Whatever the egregiously blown name, the higher group received that collection.
No, Kekalainen must be questioning how issues may search for his group had he taken a special strategy to the commerce deadline. As a result of on one hand, his gambit to go all-in failed as a result of the Blue Jackets didn’t even make it midway via the Stanley Cup playoffs. Alternatively, Columbus escaped the ignominy of being the one one among the many NHL’s 31 groups by no means to have received a playoff collection they usually did that by beating a group that had scorched the league in a record-setting common season. Additionally they re-energized their fan base, one thing that shouldn’t be minimized.
However let’s faux for a second that Kekalainen had checked out his playoff-bubble group on the deadline and gone within the fully other way. First, he would have had the return on dealing goalie Sergei Bobrovsky and high scorer Artemi Panarin on the commerce deadline. That may have represented a bevy of futures within the type of picks, prospects and younger gamers. He additionally would have had the 2 gamers – Vitaly Abramov and Jonathan Davidson – together with the first-round decide he gave up for Matt Duchene, Anthony Duclair and the 2 second-rounders he surrendered for Ryan Dzingel, the fourth- and seventh-rounders it price to get Adam McQuaid and the fifth-rounder in 2022 that departed to get Keith Kincaid.
The Blue Jackets will lose their first-rounder subsequent 12 months as effectively in the event that they handle to re-sign Duchene, an asset they might gladly give as much as have Duchene stick round within the long-term. Because it stands now, the Blue Jackets scouts may as effectively skip the draft as a result of Columbus has solely two picks in seven rounds. In reality, if Duchene re-signs, the Blue Jackets will go the subsequent 10 rounds over 2019 and 2020 drafts with solely these two picks. From that perspective, it’s fully cheap to query whether or not Kekalainen did the precise factor sacrificing all these future property to say his group has lastly been in a position to win a playoff spherical.
However what is finished is finished and now the Blue Jackets should look towards the longer term. By profitable the primary spherical and giving the Boston Bruins all they may deal with within the second, the Blue Jackets made themselves related once more in a market that was getting uninterested in by no means seeing what it was like to observe their group play hockey in Could. Historical past tells us that these strikes are going to harm the Blue Jackets – presumably in an enormous approach – within the long-term future. And as for the short-term future, it has been all however pre-ordained that each Bobrovsky and Panarin performed their final video games in Columbus Monday evening. As for Duchene, he’s most likely a 50-50 proposition at this level, whereas Dzingel is probably going seeking to money in on the most effective offensive season of his profession.
The uncertainty surrounding Bobrovsky and Panarin has hovered over the Blue Jackets all season and, fact be instructed, everybody concerned did a superb job in refusing to permit it to turn into a distraction. The Blue Jackets should plot their future now on the belief that they are going to be with no two-time Vezina winner and their high scorer the previous two seasons, one of many few wingers within the league who’s able to driving a line and being an elite and dynamic offensive participant. These are going to be almost inconceivable to exchange, even when you’ve $28 million in cap house.
But when the New York Islanders proved something this previous season, it’s group can survive the departure of a franchise participant. And going into the 2019-20 season, the Blue Jackets have much more expertise on their roster than the Islanders did coming into this season. To begin with, they’ve an excellent, however not spectacular ahead corps. Pierre-Luc Dubois will now not have Panarin, however the two years spent taking part in with him groomed him to turn into a reliable No. 1 heart, with beast-like potential. Having a fourth line taking over $12.four million in cap house – in Brandon Dubinsky, Boone Jenner and Riley Nash – isn’t very best, however it will probably work.
The Blue Jackets’ power, although, is on the blueline. In Seth Jones, they’ve a participant who has developed into one of many league’s high 200-foot defenders. He and associate Zach Werenski have actually hit their strides and have the potential to be one of many league’s finest all-round tandems within the subsequent couple of seasons. Jones will win a Norris Trophy sometime, maybe sooner relatively than later.
Alexandre Texier and Vladislav Gavrikov each stepped into the lineup within the playoffs and acquitted themselves effectively. The Blue Jackets don’t have a lot top-end expertise of their pipeline, however they do have three goalies with promise – Elvis Merzlikins, Daniil Tarasov and Veini Vehvilainen – and are hoping to hit on a kind of.
Kekalainen mentioned when his group was eradicated that he needs gamers who’re proud to be Blue Jackets. It’s most likely just a little simpler to puff your chest out over this group after this season. The Blue Jackets are swimming in cap house and in the event that they get just a little extra from the gamers they’ve and make the precise strikes over the summer time, there’s no motive they need to take a step again, even with out Bread and Bob round.
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Tags: columbus blue jackets, playoffsConnect: Concerning the AuthorKen CampbellKen Campbell, The Hockey Information’ senior author, is in his second tour with the model after an eight-year stint as a beat reporter for the Maple Leafs for the Toronto Star. The Sudbury native as soon as tried out for the Ontario League’s Wolves as a 30-year-old. Evidently, it did not work out.