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Cannon Blasts: Welcome to the off-season

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That and more of this week’s links

Detroit Red Wings v Columbus Blue Jackets Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images

The season was just 56 games over four months, but somehow it feels like it dragged on. Either way, I’m exhausted from it and glad that it’s over. We can turn the page on the 2021 Columbus Blue Jackets and look ahead to the off-season, where GM Jarmo Kekalainen will once again attempt to tweak the roster to get this team back to the playoffs.

The first order of business? Hire a new coaching staff after the team and John Tortorella parted ways on Sunday. Will it be a retread NHL coach, or someone new to that role? Maybe someone with success in the AHL, or NCAA, or even Europe? Will it be a coach with ideas for generating offense, or someone in line with Todd Richards and Tortorella who seeks physical play and defensive responsibility? I feel like Jarmo values that latter philosophy, even as the talent he has drafted and acquired in recent years fits more with the former.

Important Dates

May 19: Regular season ends. The playoffs will begin shortly after that, but the exact schedule is yet to be determined.

June 2: NHL draft lottery. This fanpost from Neil B. includes a link to a draft lottery simulator, so you can see all the various scenarios for the Blue Jackets. Currently it appears they’ll have around a 17% chance of picking in the top two.

July 21: NHL Expansion Draft, in which Seattle selects one player from every team except Vegas.

July 23-24: NHL Entry Draft. In addition to a guaranteed top 7 pick, the Blue Jackets possess two extra first round picks courtesy of Tampa Bay and Toronto. Will they use all three, or trade any prior to the draft? They also have six picks on day two, which will help replenish a depleted prospect pipeline.

Late July/Early August date TBD: Start of free agency. Jarmo will have to make decisions on the following players:

Unrestricted Free Agents:

Mikhail Grigorenko
Zac Dalpe
Stefan Matteau
Ryan MacInnis
Mikko Lehtonen
Michael Del Zotto
Adam Clendening
Gavin Bayreuther

Restricted Free Agents:

Patrik Laine
Alexandre Texier
Kevin Stenlund
Kole Sherwood
Andrew Peeke
Cam Johnson
Cliff Pu
Calvin Thurkauf

In addition, once the new league year starts, the 2022 free agents are eligible for extensions. Seth Jones, come on down...

As for The Cannon, we have a lot of great off-season content planned:

  • Player report cards for the 2021 season
  • Stanley Cup playoff coverage
  • Draft prospect profiles
  • Trade and free agent signing proposals
  • The conclusion of the Jackets 20 series and additional looks back at the first 20 years of the franchise
  • An updated run through of the Top 25 Under 25
  • And much more!

The week that was

The Cannon Cast discussed Yegor Chinakhov signing his entry level contract, and what some former players had to say about the organization. Previously, the gang discussed Jarmo and Torts not being on the same page, and the NHL coming to TNT.

Rachel attended a game for the first time as a fan rather than a professional photographer. Here is her account of being a fan under COVID protocols.

Since this year’s team didn’t provide much more to write about, we took trips down memory lane, writing about franchise greats Matt Calvert, Cam Atkinson, Artemi Panarin, and Zach Werenski.

Around the League

Connor McDavid has scored 100 points on the season, in just 53 games. He’s in full-on video game mode. It’s ridiculous.

Torts isn’t the only coach moving on. Rick Tocchet and the Arizona Coyotes also parted ways. Like Tortorella, Tocchet had reached the end of his contract.

Ohio Sports Update

The Columbus Crew are rebranding to “Columbus SC.” This sucks. It’s more Euro soccer cargo cult BS. Stop trying to be like those teams and instead embrace being an American team for American fans. Columbus fans saved the Crew, and that name deserves to be in the logo and on the uniforms forever. I agree with the Nordecke and Tom Reed:

Play me out

I hope all the mothers out there had a great Mother’s Day, and that the rest of you treated yours to something nice if possible. Mine is a great baker, so it was a thrill that I was able to make some brownies that she enjoyed. My sister came into town as well, so the best gift was that family time. That’s been too rare over the last year.