Coming off the best season in franchise history, the future seemed bright for the young Blue Jackets. They had a stacked farm system, an elite goalie in Sergei Bobrovsky, a deep group of defensemen that included future Norris Trophy contender Ryan Murray, and a deeper group of physical, skilled forwards headlined by rising star Ryan Johansen. Sure, Johansen was a restricted free agent, but it’d be crazy to think they wouldn’t get him inked quickly…
Cue the ominous music.
Johansen’s agent, Kurt Overhardt, has a penchant for tough negotiations and occasional holdouts, so it’s perhaps no surprise that Johansen is back home in Vancouver instead of in Columbus as training camp begins. But after a fairly quiet summer in which the two sides seemed to make some progress by agreeing to a two-year ‘bridge’ deal, even if they were millions apart in salary, things blew up completely over the last few days, with GM Jarmo Kekalainen and president John Davidson both publicly raking Overhardt over the coals. Davidson even went so far as to reveal what the club has offered Johansen, and that’s where the story really starts to get interesting.
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Free Agency: Eastern Conference Report Card
Just two weeks into the free-agent period most of the unrestricted top free agent talent is gone and several big name players have been moved via trade. While a few talented UFA individuals remain, trade winds are swirling on teams that have too much D (Boston, Anaheim), not enough defense (Detroit, Buffalo,) not enough centres (Edmonton, Ottawa?) and/or still possibly searching for top six wingers (Pittsburgh, Boston). So the landscaping clearly isn’t over for many NHL teams.
Consider this an early summer update with the understanding that these grades are for the first two terms of the offseason, with one term left.
Also, in the spirit that we want to include various forms of assessment, we’ll be including any and all trade activity that warrants consideration (based on possible impact).
One observation before we indulge in this data…have you noticed how most of the top talent that’s been moved/signed over the past fortnight (Wimbledon reference) has gone to the Western Conference?
The names are fairly well known – Jarome Iginla, Jason Spezza, James Neal, Paul Stastny, Ryan Kesler, Marian Gaborik (key-resigning), Tomas Vanek, Ryan Miller, Sam Gagner, Radim Vrbata, Brad Richards, Teddy Purcell, Benoit Pouliot, Ales Hemsky.
Let’s see what happened in the East…
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