CBJ Offseason Recap
With training camp on the horizon, let's look back at the key events of the offseason.
1) April 17, 2015: In a move that was seemingly destined to occur at some point, the Jackets changed their AHL affiliate from the Springfield Falcons to the Lake Erie Monsters, based in Cleveland. The logistical advantages are obvious, but this move should serve as a terrific way to unite the fans of the sport throughout the state. The teams have done a great job of marketing the partnership on social media.
2) April - May, 2015: One of the consolations for fans of NHL teams that don't make the Stanley Cup playoffs is the World Hockey Championship, which takes place every spring. This year the Jackets were represented by David Savard (Canada) and Sergei Bobrovsky (Russia), while Todd Richards was the head coach of the American squad. Former Jackets Artem Anisimov, Jeremy Morin and Mike Reilly suited up for Russia and the US, respectively. Canada defeated Russia in the final to take the Gold, while the Americans took home the bronze. While Bob is a star in the net, this tournament showed the strides that Savard has made, while also signalling the importance of Richards withing USA Hockey.
3) May 18, 2015: Perhaps the biggest non-roster storyline from the summer came when Nick Foligno was named the sixth captain in team history. The team showed excruciating patience in waiting for a leader to emerge, and Foligno did just that last season. Not only did he have a career year offensively, he was the ambassador for the Jackets and city of Columbus at the All Star Game, representing both superbly. He's without a doubt the heart and soul of the team.
4) June 18, 2015: The Jackets hired Kenny McCudden to be an assistant coach, where he will be stationed in the press box providing drone-like reconnaissance to the coaches on the bench. He'll also fill a skills niche in the development system. The word is that he's a firecracker, and I have a feeling that he'll be a hit with the fans if there's ever an opportunity to get him on-camera.
5) June 24, 2015: The NHL announced some interesting rule changes, including 3-on-3 overtime and the introduction of a coach's challenge. I'll let the NHL give you the details.
6) June 26, 2015: On the first day of the NHL Draft, the Jackets revealed a new shoulder patch for the home and away sweaters, replacing the civil war cap logo. It's a recolored version of the primary logo seen on the alternate sweaters, and it's glorious.
Image courtesy of Sportlogos.net
7) June 26, 2015: The Jackets entered the first round of the draft with the 8th-overall selection, and used it on University of Michigan defenseman Zach Werenski. Werenski fills a huge organizational need, and has all the makings of a future stud blueliner. GM Jarmo Kekalainen dipped into his stash of draft picks to pick up an additional first rounder, selecting Gabriel Carlsson 29th overall. Carlsson is a smooth, defense-first blueliner who coincidentally would make a great partner for Werenski down the line.
8) June 27, 2015: On Day 2 of the draft, the Jackets added an additional seven prospects, some of which were of the unconventional variety. The Jackets drafted winger Paul Bittner 38th overall, a player who many had going in the first round. He represents the latest high-end Portland Winterhawk product to be drafted by the CBJ. (Johansen, Bjorkstrand). The Jackets drafted project center Kevin Stenlund in the second round, and followed that choice with the drafting of winger Keegan Kolesar, a player that embodies the girt/skill combo that has come to define the Jackets. The team added a pair of blueliners in the fifth round: overager Sam Ruopp and Finn Veeti Vainio. Ruopp is the captain of the WHL's Prince George Cougars, while Vainio stood out as an offensive defenseman in Finnish U20. For those of you that watched the World Juniors this past Christmas, you'll probably recall Vladislav Gavrikov. He was the captain of the Russian squad and was named top defenseman in the tournament. The Jackets used their sixth-rounder on him. In the final round of the draft the Jackets grabbed another Finnish blueliner, this time Markus Nutivaara. This one is all-Jarmo, as Nutivaara was 21 years-old on draft day.
9) June 30, 2015: The Jackets made a huge splash, trading Marko Dano, Artem Anisimov, Jeremy Morin and Corey Tropp to the Chicago Blackhawks for Brandon Saad, Michael Paliotta and Alex Broadhurst. The Jackets cleared a logjam of forwards, but the most important thing was bringing aboard a Cup-winning stud winger to play in the top-six. Paliotta is no throw-in, as he could challenge for a spot on the CBJ blueline in camp. Broadhurst will be a go-to player for the Monsters this season. The Jackets now possess a lethal group of forwards, with Saad's winning pedigree a huge bonus. Saad was signed to an extension a few days later.
10) July 1, 2015: Mike Reilly signs with the Minnesota Wild. Next.
11) July 1, 2015: The Jackets signed Gregory Campbell as a replacement for Mark Letestu. Campbell is another Cup-winner, and brings some jam to the fourth line. He'll fit in well.
12) July 7, 2015: The Jackets made history by making Kole Sherwood the first Columbus-born and developed player to sign an NHL contract. This is a huge statement for minor hockey in Columbus.