Welcome back to Columbus Blue Jackets news and rumors. In case you missed it last week, we debuted this new column and you can expect to see a new edition every Monday throughout the 2021-22 season. We’ll give you the news and react to it.
This week, the Blue Jackets made a couple of signings. What will they mean for the team in the short-term? And the Max Domi rumors just won’t go away. Is a trade in the works? We discuss these things and more.
Blue Jackets Sign Zac Rinaldo
On Friday, the Blue Jackets agreed to a one-year, two-way deal with forward Zac Rinaldo. He spent the last two seasons with the Calgary Flames organization.
This is an interesting signing for the Blue Jackets. On one hand, Rinaldo can play in Cleveland and provide veteran leadership to the Monsters. Then when needed, he can be a depth call-up in the event of injury.
Of course Rinaldo is known for the scores of penalty minutes he’s taken in his career. He’s averaged over two PIMs per game over his entire career spanning 10 seasons and now his sixth NHL team. He has racked up 758 penalty minutes in 374 career games.
Off the ice, Rinaldo is a spokesperson for the Hockey Talks campaign, which promotes awareness of mental health challenges such as anxiety and depression.
All-in-all given the contract and expectations (just $750,000 at the NHL level for one season), this is a low-risk move by the team even if things don’t pan out as expected. With a log jam of players trying to get the last spots, competition will be very high. Still, he will have a chance at camp to show he can still play at age 31 and perhaps even make the team if things go his way.
Stanislav Svozil Signs His ELC
Also on Friday, the Blue Jackets agreed to terms with their 2021 third rounder defenseman Stanislav Svozil on a three-year entry-level contract. While the Blue Jackets first rounders (Kent Johnson, Cole Sillinger and Corson Ceulemans) get most of the attention, do not sleep on Svozil’s potential.
Svozil has represented the Czech Republic in major international tournaments including both the 2021 U-18’s and World Junior Championships. He was also highly rated by several scouting services anywhere from the end of the first round to the second round. He “fell” to 69th overall.
What I wonder is where Svozil will play during the 2021-22 season. Thanks to @cbjprospects on Twitter for pointing this out, apparently the defenseman is interested in coming over to North America.
If Svozil does come across the pond, he will have multiple options. He could make the Blue Jackets straight out of camp although that seems like the least likely of options. His CHL rights are owned by the Regina Pats which happens to be the team Connor Bedard plays on. And because he was signed out of Europe, the Blue Jackets could assign Svozil straight to Cleveland.
GM Jarmo Kekalainen wouldn’t bite when we reached him about Svozil’s future. “Time will tell.” But he did go on to say that there are great options available.
To play a season in the WHL with Bedard or to go straight to the AHL? That’s what the Blue Jackets will eventually have to decide. The general belief amongst those I’ve spoken to believe that Svozil will report to Regina. But as Kekalainen said, “time will tell.” Regardless Svozil’s future is bright and could eventually make an impact on this team.
Is Max Domi Available Via Trade?
Here we go again? On their last news episode of 31 Thoughts the Podcast, Elliotte Friedman brought up Max Domi and reinforced a trade still might be in the works.
“I think they’re trying to move Max Domi. I just don’t know if the fit is going to work there. I think they want to see if they can get him to somewhere else where the fit might be better.”
This is certainly not the first time rumors have swirled around Domi and the Blue Jackets. It’s well documented how much the 2020-21 season was a struggle for him after being traded from the Montreal Canadiens in the Josh Anderson deal. Was it the pandemic? Was it trying to fit to John Tortorella’s style? To his credit, he did finish better than he started.
At this point, Domi is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery and won’t be ready until November or December depending on how he heals. It’s fair to wonder if he’ll play another game in a Blue Jackets’ uniform especially if there’s a belief the fit is just not there.
But given their lack of depth at center, Domi could still return and be given another chance at a top-six center role. If given a chance on the top line, he could potentially center Patrik Laine and Jakub Voracek. Each player is talented in their own right. It would be interesting to see if this trio had any chemistry.
The Blue Jackets however are in a tough spot if a trade is to come. Domi was exposed to the Seattle Kraken in the expansion draft yet the Kraken passed on taking him. His value is as low as it can be given last season and now the injury. We’ll see how desperate the team is to try to move him as we go.
The fact that this keeps coming up suggests the Blue Jackets are interested in moving on. Can they find a trade partner? Can they get anything of substance back in a deal? Is it best to wait for him to play and then explore a deadline deal? There’s many questions and for now, very few answers.
That’s it for now. See you next Monday.
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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.