Blue Jackets Blasts: Global Series, Roslovic, Johnson & More

Welcome back to Columbus Blue Jackets Blasts. You’ve made it to the final week of the 2021-22 regular season. The Blue Jackets have just three games left in their season starting Tuesday night in Tampa Bay.

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As usual, there is no shortage of storylines around the team. Let’s start out this week with an exciting announcement about a pair of games in the 2022-23 regular season.

Blue Jackets/Avalanche Part of Global Series

This has been rumored for some time given the fact that it was set to happen once already. But thanks to the pandemic, it had to be canceled. On Thursday, the NHL announced that the Blue Jackets and Avalanche would play in a pair of regular season games Nov 4-5 at Nokia Arena in Tampere, Finland as part of the NHL Global Series. GM Jarmo Kekalainen as you could imagine was excited about the announcement.

“The Columbus Blue Jackets are excited to be taking part in the 2022 NHL Global Series Challenge. Finnish hockey fans are incredibly passionate, and I am extremely proud to be a part of bringing our team to the place where I learned to love this great game,” Kekalainen said.

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Current roster players Patrik Laine and Joonas Korpisalo each hail from Finland with Laine being from Tampere. He would love the opportunity to play in that game. That is of course if he’s still with the Blue Jackets, something he, the team and the fans all want.

“Now, especially going to my hometown, that is pretty cool,” Laine said. “It’s different here for the North American guys. They get to play in their hometowns usually, but for Europeans it’s pretty rare that we get that opportunity. It’s pretty sweet, and hopefully I’ll be here to play in that game but it should be fun.” 

Patrik Laine Columbus Blue Jackets
Patrik Laine says he’s hopefully with the Blue Jackets in order to play in his hometown of Tampere at the NHL Global Series. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Laine did say “hopefully” a few times when he spoke about this. He did admit he hasn’t heard anything about where negotiations might stand. But since he’s an RFA and under team control, there’s no reason to think something won’t get done at this point.

Related: Laine Has Had Masterton Worthy Season

The Global Series will be a neat opportunity for the Blue Jackets to play in front of a packed house in Tampere. Thanks to Laine, many Finns follow and are fans of the Blue Jackets. Now they’ll get a chance to watch a pair of games in his hometown.

Roslovic Wins Team Community Award

On Friday, the Blue Jackets announced that Jack Roslovic was the recipient of the 2021-22 Community MVP Award, which recognizes the player who best exemplifies service, dedication and leadership. A $5,000 donation will be made to a charity of Roslovic’s choice and in his name thanks to the Columbus Blue Jackets’ Foundation.

Roslovic created “Rosie’s Gear For Goals” back in 2020 as a way to help give back to the community that helped him become what he is today. Thanks to a golf event and the creation of the Jack Roslovic Collection in partnership with 614 Hockey, funds were raised that helped benefit Rosie’s Gear. To date, $70,000 in hockey gear and scholarships have been provided to youth in the Columbus area.

In addition, Roslovic has partnered with Seeds of Caring, which engages children ages 2-12 through a variety of service, social action, and community-building experiences. Among the things they tackle are homelessness and racism. Roslovic has also partnered with On Our Sleeves, which is a movement on Children’s Mental Health which is designed to help break the stigma and start meaningful conversations. This is powered by Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Jack Roslovic Columbus Blue Jackets
Jack Roslovic was named the winner of the 2021-22 Blue Jackets’ Community MVP Award. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

This award is the latest accomplishment in a growing list of accomplishments for Roslovic. He joins past winners in Nick Foligno, Boone Jenner and Cam Atkinson among others in winning this prestigious award.

On the ice, Roslovic is playing his best hockey of the season. With his goal on Sunday against the Oilers, he has nine goals in his last seven games and has 21 goals this season. He is making a strong case to be a part of the team’s core moving forward. He’s becoming a champion both on and off the ice.

Johnson Adjusting to NHL Life

If you have looked at the box score recently, you may have noticed that Kent Johnson hasn’t played a lot of minutes. While it certainly raises an eyebrow, it’s nothing to worry about. Let’s set the scene.

Johnson has played six games and has a pair of assists. He’s still looking for his first NHL goal. In Sunday’s victory over the Oilers, Johnson played just 8:31 and saw just a couple of shifts in the last 40 minutes of the game.

This is clearly a case of a player getting used to the speed and physicality of the NHL. This kind of thing happens to a lot of players when they first enter the league. Coach Brad Larsen addressed Johnson’s game during his postgame availability.

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“I think it’s coming,” Larsen said. “This was a faster game. You saw the pace of this game with the quality of players that were out there. (It was) a little bit of a heavier game at times. He’s like a lot of our young guys. You get a taste of these bigger and faster teams and what it feels like. He’s still very fresh in this and there’s going to be a lot of learning curves for him.”

On a good note, you can see the signs of the kind of player Johnson will eventually be. His playmaking speaks for itself. But what you might not realize is just how hard working he is. After a recent optional practice, Johnson stayed out by himself for around an hour working at his game. The results aren’t showing up yet. But seeing things like this is exactly what you want to see from someone who’s eventually going to be a huge part of the team.

Side Dishes

  • Defenseman Nick Blankenburg scored his first NHL goal on Sunday afternoon against the Edmonton Oilers. It was the eventual game-winning goal in the third period. It also gave him his first multi-point game of his NHL career. Let’s just say that things couldn’t be going better for him. He’s making his case to not only be an important part of the future, he could start next season in the top-four. What he’s done so far is nothing short of impressive.
  • Since it’s the final week of the regular season, let’s look at the league standings and see what draft position could look like. The Blue Jackets have their own first-round pick and own Chicago’s first-round pick in 2022, assuming the Blackhawks don’t win one of the lotteries.
  • First on the Blue Jackets. Their win against the Oilers put them at 79 points and in 21st place in the standings. They are one point in back of the New York Islanders and two points back of the Winnipeg Jets with three games to play. If they were to lose their last three games in regulation, they would finish no better than 21st place. That translates to 12th from the bottom. Only the bottom-11 can win the lottery and select first. The Blue Jackets can only jump up 10 spots maximum.
  • This would mean that there is no scenario which would see the Blue Jackets with any chance of winning the right to pick first via the lottery since the Blackhawks’ pick is lottery protected. With the Ducks and Sharks each trailing by five entering the week with just three games left, it seems 21st place is a real possibility with a jump to 20th or 19th possible depending on the Islanders and Jets.
  • On the Blackhawks, they enter the week in 27th place or sixth from the bottom. Should they not win a lottery, the Blue Jackets would get that pick giving them two lottery picks in the 2022 draft. The three teams below the Blackhawks (Devils, Flyers and Kraken) could all in theory pass the Blackhawks in the standings should they lose out. If the Blackhawks win a lottery, then the Blue Jackets get the Blackhawks 2023 first rounder that comes with no lottery protection.
  • There’s actually a case to be made that it would benefit the Blue Jackets if the Blackhawks won one of the lotteries this season. With 2023 being classified by some as a deeper draft class, the Blue Jackets would then get two picks in that draft with no sign of the Blackhawks making a dramatic jump in the standings. No matter how it shakes out, the Blue Jackets are primed to add three first rounders (both of their firsts and the Blackhawks first) over the next two years.
  • The Blue Jackets are expected to have locker clean-out day right after their last game Friday against the Penguins. We’ll see what everyone has to say including hopefully some updates on the injured or absent players and what their immediate futures hold.