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Cannon Blasts: Jarmo Kekalainen continues to address offseason priorities

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That and more of this week’s links

Russia v United States: Quarter Final - 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Slovakia Photo by RvS.Media/Robert Hradil/Getty Images

Back in February, I wrote about how GM Jarmo Kekalainen was quietly getting a head start on his offseason by signing some of the many Columbus Blue Jackets’ restricted free agents. Over the last week, he proved he is making most of the current NHL hiatus.

First, he signed goalie Joonas Korpisalo to a two year contract. Six days later, he signed goalie Elvis Merzlikins to his own two year contract. How the goalie situation would be addressed was one of the biggest questions looming over the offseason (whenever the offseason actually happens). Now that question has been addressed. Combined, the cap hit will be $6.8 million for one of the league’s most productive goalie tandems. That’s great security and peace of mind for the next two seasons. At some point it’s likely that one goalie will get a long term extension and the other will be traded, but that can happen at any point in the next two years - and on the Jackets’ terms.

They made another signing last week, this time from outside the organization. They agreed to a one year contract with forward Mikhail Grigorenko, a former first round pick who played for the Sabres and Avalanche before spending the last three years in the KHL. The NHL voided the contract due to its timing, but both sides have said they will re-file the contract when the new league year starts, on July 1 (or some later date). Here’s hoping we see the player who scored 116 points in 147 games in the KHL, rather than the one who scored just 64 points in 217 games in his prior NHL experience.

What next? I think the priority should be locking up Pierre-Luc Dubois. After that, figure out whether to re-sign or trade Josh Anderson. Here’s the full list of remaining RFAs, in descending order of current cap hit:

Forwards:

Devin Shore
Josh Anderson
Pierre-Luc Dubois
Ryan MacInnis
Kevin Stenlund
Marko Dano
Jakob Lilja
Maxime Fortier
Paul Bittner
Calvin Thurkauf
Justin Scott
Kole Sherwood

Defense:

Vladislav Gavrikov
Ryan Collins
Gabriel Carlsson
Michael Prapavessis
Doyle Somerby

Goalies:

Matiss Kivlenieks

The week that was

This week marks the beginning of the NHL Player Gaming Challenge. NHL players will compete against each other in the NHL20 video game, with games being streamed online. The CBJ representatives are Zach Werenski and Elvis Merzlikins.

Looking for lunchtime entertaining this week? Fox Sports Ohio is airing replays at noon of some of the best games from this season. The full list is here.

The NHL is considering grouping teams by division to play out the rest of the season in a select handful of cities. While Columbus is one of the options, elpalito explains that some road venues have been good to the Jackets.

The Cleveland Monsters have been keeping busy during their break. Elaine catches us up on that, including some excellent content from their social media team.

Unfortunately, “The Whip” lost in the first round of the SBN FanPulse tournament of NHL goal songs.

...what

Ohio Sports Update

The Joe Burrow Era officially begins in Cincinnati. I noticed that by Friday night there were ads for Bengals season tickets airing on TV here in Columbus.

The Browns, meanwhile, were...quietly competent? I don’t know how to feel about this.

Play me out

I find this way too catchy