Welcome to the end of August. With that comes the anticipation and build-up towards the start of the 2021-22 NHL season.
The Blue Jackets will open Training Camp on Sept 22. That’s just a little more than three weeks away. Even though we have a few weeks to get through, the team is making news and are constantly involved in the Jack Eichel rumors. Let’s start there this week.
Jack Eichel Has a New Agent
On Friday, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman put out a tweet indicating that Eichel has switched agents. He is now represented by Pat Brisson.
If you are a team that reportedly had interest in Eichel if the circumstances were right, does this change anything? For a team like the Blue Jackets, the answer is not really. But for other teams with serious interest, this could help facilitate a trade faster.
According to Friedman on 31 Thoughts the Podcast that was released late Saturday night, there was a meeting involving the Sabres, Eichel’s representatives, the NHL and the NHLPA. Both sides presented their case. Reportedly there was no progress. The Sabres’ price remains high. Their stance remains the same.
If that is the case, the Blue Jackets should continue to not look at Eichel. But with Brisson now in play, it will be curious to see if the approach changes or if a trade comes quicker.
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We will continue to monitor this situation from a Blue Jackets’ perspective. Their need for a top center is obvious and Eichel would fill a huge role. But the elements remain unfavorable for a trade to happen unless the price does come down. But even if the Blue Jackets don’t land him, it’s possible a division rival like the New York Rangers could land him. That would have an effect on the Blue Jackets as they would see Eichel more in their schedule.
Will this tricky situation ever come to a resolution? It will eventually. But how long will it take and at what cost? But alas, we continue to wait for it to happen.
Should the Blue Jackets Present an Offer Sheet?
On Saturday, the Carolina Hurricanes made major news by presenting an offer sheet to Jesperi Kotkaniemi of the Montreal Canadiens. It’s a one-year deal worth $6.1 million+. The plus in this case makes this offer sheet epic.
First, there was a $20 signing bonus. The 20 is Sebastian Aho’s number. Recall that the Canadiens presented an offer sheet to Aho in 2019. Seems the Hurricanes didn’t forget.
But then second, the AAV is $6,100,015. Yes that is a 15 on the end of that figure. The 15 of course is Kotkaniemi’s number. My goodness how thought out was this offer sheet?!
It’s a clear revenge offer sheet in which the Canadiens will have seven days from Saturday to decide if they want to match it. If they do not match it, they will get a first and third-round pick as compensation.
Now let’s look at the Blue Jackets. They have cap space. They also have draft picks. Should they look at an offer sheet for a player like Elias Pettersson?
The offer sheet is a legal, CBA approved method to add talent to your organization. The issue is that most teams don’t want to present one only to have a revenge offer sheet come up later. But if you are the Blue Jackets, why not explore Pettersson? He would fit like a glove.
However since the Blue Jackets do not have their own third rounder, that disqualifies them from the $4.11-$10.27 million tiers, which comprises of three tiers. They can however offer a package that would cost them four first-round picks.
That seems very steep. But if you think you will be a playoff contender within a year, those could be late firsts. Plus as we saw at this past draft, draft picks can be recouped or gained in other moves. Also remember the Blue Jackets own Chicago’s first in 2022.
GM Jarmo Kekalainen knows the offer sheet is a weapon in his arsenal. But would he consider this one? With Kotkaniemi getting an offer sheet, never say never. It’s not out of the question to think one is possible. Plus Vancouver has to think it’s at least possible. They’d be in a position to match but that would have downstream effects. They have Quinn Hughes to sign too.
But until we actually see it, it’s just an interesting idea to consider. Kekalainen has proven he is not afraid if a move is available. Mitch Marner anyone? Let’s see if they sit on their over $10 million in cap space or if they really try to make things spicy in the near future. Adding Pettersson would change the entire dynamic of the top-six. That’s why it at least must be discussed even if it’s a short conversation.
Blue Jackets & the Olympics
With Olympic Qualifiers now completed, we know which countries are heading to Beijing for the Olympics. The Blue Jackets could be well represented if things manage to work out with an arrangement.
Denmark was able to book their spot in Beijing. Oliver Bjorkstrand had a hand in making this happen. Latvia also knocked out France on home ice to secure a spot in the Olympic tournament. This does open the door possibly for Elvis Merzlikins to play if he should so choose. Slovakia also made it to Beijing. Blue Jackets’ prospect Samuel Knazko is part of that team and could play a pivotal role for them in the tournament.
Beyond that, the Blue Jackets could have others who get a shot in Beijing. For example, could Zach Werenski play for Team USA? What about Patrik Laine or Joonas Korpisalo for Finland? Switzerland could see both Dean Kukan and Gregory Hofmann play for them. Vladislav Gavrikov could play for Russia. Jakub Voracek could play for the Czech Republic while Gus Nyquist could find a spot on Sweden. There are many possibilities here.
Of course the question now is will the NHL go? According to ESPN’s Emily Kaplan, it seems progress has been made.
Will the parties get over the final hump and make this a reality? We might know soon. We do know the players want to be involved in this event. They’re trying. It’s just a matter of finishing now. If so, the Blue Jackets will be actively involved in the tournament.
See you in September.
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I am a fully credentialed writer who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Monsters and Erie Otters as well as the Ontario Hockey League and NHL Draft. The 2022-23 season will mark nine seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager. Please take note of the updated Twitter handle: @mark_scheig.