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Welcome to the Offseason: Now what?

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It’s going to be a busy one

Boston Bruins v Columbus Blue Jackets - Game Six Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

How are we feeling today? You OK? Need to lay down for a bit? Maybe have a glass of water?

The Columbus Blue Jackets have been eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs, but that doesn’t mean that we at the Cannon are going into hibernation until October. Here’s what is on tap for the next few months:

Stanley Cup Playoffs

If it hurts too much to continue watching the playoffs, I don’t blame you. I had to tune out the second round last year, but by the conference finals I was back to tuning in. There are some fun teams left playing. Boston advances to face the surprising Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Final, while the Western Conference Final will feature the winner of San Jose and Colorado against the winner of tonight’s Game 7 between Dallas and St. Louis.

We will have weekly open threads for the rest of the playoffs. Use this post for tonight’s game.

IIHF World Championships

If NHL hockey isn’t your bag, the World Championships start on Friday. We will have a preview/open thread up that day. It’s possible that some of the Jackets make the trip to Slovakia to join their national teams, and some prospects may join as well.

NHL Draft

This year’s entry draft will be held on June 21 (first round) and June 22 (second through seventh rounds). This may be less interesting than past years, with the Jackets currently holding just two picks: their 3rd round selection, and Calgary’s 7th (acquired from Ottawa in the Ryan Dzingel trade). That being said, don’t be surprised if GM Jarmo Kekalainen moves up or down from this picks, or trades a current roster player (Alex Wennberg?) for picks or prospects as all the GMs are gathered in one place for a weekend.

Free Agency

This is the big one. July 1 is the start of the new league year, and the first day free agents can sign with a new team. They may be in contact with other teams in the week leading up to that. Expect Columbus to use the time between now and then to make initial offers to their pending unrestricted free agents. Decisions on the restricted free agents may have to wait until after the dust clears on the UFAs.

Unrestricted Free Agents

Forwards

Artemi Panarin
Matt Duchene
Ryan Dzingel
Mark Letestu

Defensemen

Adam McQuaid
Tommy Cross

Goalies

Sergei Bobrovsky
Keith Kinkaid
Jean-Francois Berube

Restricted Free Agents

Forwards

Eric Robinson
Lukas Sedlak
Markus Hannikainen
Sam Vigneault
Sonny Milano
Ryan MacInnis
Justin Scott

Defensemen

Zach Werenski
Adam Clendening
Scott Harrington
Ryan Murray
Doyle Somerby

Goalies

Elvis Merzlikins
Joonas Korpisalo

Who stays? Who goes? We will have a LOT more coverage of this between now and then.

Cannon Cast

We were very excited to launch the Cannon Cast podcast this spring and hope you’re enjoying it so far. Look for weekly episodes continuing through the offseason. We are always looking for topics to discuss whether it be related to the Jackets, other hockey issues, or any topic at all, really. As I said, there’s quite a bit of offseason to get through.

Staff Changes

I mentioned this in the comments once, but after a year as interim site manager I was made the permanent manager in February. That happened the same day as the Duchene trade, so that was quite a day! I appreciate everyone who expressed support for me since taking over from Mike. I also greatly appreciate how easy the other writers made that transition.

Something I was sure to emphasize in my application and interview was that I came to The Cannon as a reader first, so I understand what makes the site great already and I want to preserve that. With that said, I’m open to any suggestions for how to improve. Feel free to offer any ideas in the comments or you may email me directly at thepaledragon AT gmail.com.

We were a bit shorthanded for the final three months of the season so my hope is to add one or two more contributors this summer. Stay tuned for more announcements to that effect, with details on how to apply.

Thanks for reading The Cannon and making this the best online community for Blue Jackets fans.