The last few days have seen a flurry of news and moves across the league, and the next ten days are sure to contain even more action. Here is what is on deck:
Wednesday, July 21 at 8 p.m.: Expansion Draft
Friday, July 23 at 8 p.m.: First round of the NHL Entry Draft
Saturday, July 24 at 11 a.m.: Rounds 2-7 of the NHL Entry Draft
Wednesday, July 28 at noon: Beginning of the free agency period
By August, the Columbus prospect pipeline will be refreshed with nine or so new players, and the NHL roster will be shaken up with the loss of one player to Seattle, and a potential trade of Seth Jones.
Expansion Draft Chaos
On Sunday, the NHL released the protection and exposure lists in advance of Wednesday night’s Expansion Draft. There were many changes from what was discussed on Friday, most notably that the Columbus Blue Jackets opted to protect Eric Robinson and expose Max Domi.
That was far from the only head-scratcher around the league, as big names such as Carey Price, Vladimir Tarasenko, Matt Duchene, and Ryan Johansen have all been exposed. Will Seattle take these players and their large contracts, or stick to a more conservative, long-term approach to team-building?
Either way, the Kraken’s social media team is in mid-season form already:
live look at Ron S̶w̶a̶n̶s̶o̶n̶ Francis picking your fave players rn pic.twitter.com/UvA6FKsyWi— Seattle Kraken (@SeattleKraken) July 18, 2021
Another thing to watch: while Seattle must select 30 players, they obviously cannot keep all of them by the time they reach opening day. Some players they select will be immediately flipped in trades with other teams, and those trades can be negotiated over the next 48 hours while teams are otherwise subject to a roster freeze.
Could the Blue Jackets be one of those teams? It’s possible, and Jarmo Kekalainen has hinted at that. However, he also hinted that the team could make trades to help teams with protection issues, and that did not come to fruition. Players like Duncan Keith, Ryan Ellis, Jared McCann, Nick Leddy, and Ryan Graves all were moved in the week before the roster freeze. Columbus was left out of that game of musical chairs.
Seattle Blue Krackets
I couldn’t help but notice a lot of familiar names as I scanned the exposure lists, so I set out to see if I could build a roster for Seattle exclusively made up of former Blue Jackets. Alas, 12 teams did not have a single such player exposed, but there were 35 players total among the other 17 teams (not including Columbus) so here is my best 20-man roster, with only a few repeats necessary:
Brandon Saad/Ryan Johansen/Jakub Voracek
Nick Foligno/Matt Duchene/Ryan Dzingel
Sonny Milano/Alex Wennberg/Derick Brassard
Blake Comeau/Artem Anisimov/Sam Gagner
Ian Cole/David Savard
Ryan Murray/Markus Nutivaara
John Moore/Kris Russell
Not included: Mike Reilly, Matt Calvert, TJ Tynan, Adam Cracknell, Devin Shore, Kevin Connauton, Anton Stralman, Jack Johnson, Vitaly Abramov, Cody Goloubef, Anton Forsberg, Jonathan Davidsson, Riley Nash, Marko Dano
Could my team compete? Can you do better? Share your own lines in the comments.
The Seth Jones Situation
There has been some conflicting reporting as to where trade talks stand with regards to defenseman Seth Jones. David Pagnotta reported that Jones’ team has been given permission to talk to other clubs, but Aaron Portzline later denied that.
Later, Darren Dreger said that the Blue Jackets had not engaged teams in trade talks.
So...what exactly is the plan here? There’s no question that Seth Jones will be traded, it’s just a question of when it will happen, and how Columbus can maximize its return. My worry is that as we get close to free agency, teams may pursue players like Dougie Hamilton and that will thin out the number of suitors for Jones, thus driving the price down.
There’s another theory that the Jackets could hold on to Jones until the trade deadline next winter, and hope to bring in a package at least as good as what they got this year for David Savard, given that Jones is younger and more talented. The downside there is that you go into the season with a player with one foot out the door. That’s like the Dubois situation all over again and it’s been proven that this locker room has trouble handling that scenario.
If he’s going to be gone, better to make a clean break now. Work the phones right away and get his team on board so a potential long-term sign-and-trade can happen which will maximize the return for all parties.
Remembering Matiss Kivlenieks
On Thursday, past and present members of the Blue Jackets organization gathered for a memorial service to honor the late goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks. His mother and other family members flew in from Lativa for the service, as well.
Highlights below include goaltending coach Manny Legace joking that “Torts flew in...and he hates goalies!” and an emotional Elvis Merzlikins revealing that Kivlenieks protected him and his pregnant wife from getting struck themselves by the errant fireworks. Coach Brad Larsen and Monsters teammate Nathan Gerbe also spoke.
Our friend Elaine Shircliff wrote a very touching tribute to Kivlenieks from the perspective of fans who watched him develop in Cleveland over four seasons:
Despite covering Matiss Kivlenieks for four seasons, I struggled to find the proper words to describe who he was as a player & a person.— Elaine Shircliff (@imaraindancer) July 14, 2021
So, I turned to the @monstershockey fans in hopes of doing @bertiss35 any sort of justice.#cbj #clemonsters @TheAHL https://t.co/BPfFRaY666
The Columbus Crew — who recently moved into their new home down the street from Nationwide Arena — paid tribute to Kivlenieks in the 80th minute of Saturday’s game, and the Nordecke created a special tifo. The Crew jersey references Kirk Urso, a Crew player who died suddenly of heart failure in 2012.
Crew captain Jonathan Mensah came by to help fans paint the sign:
Play me out
A new release this week feels like it was made just for me: my favorite band covers my favorite album in its entirety. This is Layla Revisted, a recording of Tedeschi Trucks Band performing the seminal 1970 Derek & and the Dominos album at the 2019 LOCKN’ festival. They are joined by special guests Trey Anastasio from Phish and longtime TTB collaborator Doyle Bramhall II. Derek Trucks and Bramhall toured together with Eric Clapton in 2006, so were already very familiar with these songs. I love the way Trucks and Anastasio trade riffs on the title track, coming as close as possible to the magical performances of Clapton and Duane Allman on the original studio track.