COLUMBUS, Ohio – Jack Skille became an unrestricted free agent on July 5, and the next couple of days felt a lot longer than 48 hours.
Life as a professional athlete rarely contains any semblance of certainty. The “comforts of home” often refer to a king bed in a hotel room rather than a four-acre ranch outside the city limits. But finding those comforts – in whatever way they come – has a lot to do with finding the right opportunity. Skille, with the advantage of being able to choose his next destination, took some time to evaluate the options.
On the checklist: a place where he fit in, a place where there was some familiarity, and a team that stands a good chance to win. When the Blue Jackets came calling, things materialized quickly.
“I think (choosing the Blue Jackets) was mainly about the opportunity that has presented itself here in Columbus,” Skille told BlueJackets.com. “I work hard every summer to make sure I get better and to give myself the best chance, and I saw what Columbus did last year and all the character they showed. It’s unbelievable here, and I’m so excited to be part of this group."
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Another sign that hockey season is rapidly approaching: the Blue Jackets have confirmed their participation in the Red Wings' annual prospects tournament in Traverse City, and along with it, their official roster for the tournament.
The Blue Jackets will take 24 players to Traverse City on Sept. 4, with the tournament beginning the following day. It's an all-day affair for the teams, with practices typically taking place in the morning and games played in the afternoon.
Here are the groupings and participating teams for this year's tournament:
TED LINDSAY DIVISION - Columbus, Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers
GORDIE HOWE DIVISION – Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues
Couldn't make it to Cannonfest last weekend? Here's part of what you missed: tremendous videos from Tom Larrow (better known as Skraut on Twitter).
After a breakout rookie season in Columbus in 2012-13, Dalton Prout will have the start of his sophomore NHL season delayed.
The Blue Jackets announced this afternoon that Prout underwent surgery today to repair what's being termed as a "lingering abdominal injury," and he's expected to miss the start of camp next month as a result. GM Jarmo Kekalainen said in a team-issued statement that Prout had recently complained of soreness and a muscle tear was the initial diagnosis, but further tests showed a "slight tear" and thus surgery was required.
"We discovered this week that there was actually a small tear and that surgery would be his best option,” Kekalainen said. “The typical recovery time for an injury like this is six weeks, so our hope is he will be ready by the start of the regular season.”
Prout burst on the scene this past season, arriving for his first game in Chicago midway through the first period and stepping right into the fire. From there, though, things settled down and Prout settled in to a regular spot in the Blue Jackets lineup; he played 28 games in Columbus and racked up a team-best +15 rating in that time.
Stay tuned to BlueJackets.com for further updates on this story.
When Joonas Korpisalo was drafted by the Blue Jackets in 2012, he raised some eyebrows when asked about his goal for the upcoming season.
"I want to be the No. 1 goalie in Columbus," he told reporters at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh. He did so with a straight face.
A bright-eyed, over-the-moon excited Korpisalo didn't mean he was eyeing the top job in the years ahead. He was talking about 2012 and being the Blue Jackets' starting goaltender, and while it seemed a bit ambitious for a kid who had his name called 15 minutes prior, that's just who he is: a driven and extremely competitive player who has taken a lot in his short time working with Blue Jackets goaltending coach Ian Clark and applied those lessons to his budding career in Finland.
This week marks the beginning of Finland's 2014 World Junior evaluation camp, and as one of two goaltenders invited to Lake Placid, Korpisalo has a realistic chance of being the team's No. 1 goalie when the tournament begins in December.
It's not out of the realm of possibility that the Blue Jackets could have three prospects representing Sweden at the 2014 World Junior tournament.
Not only would it be a strong showcase for three of the organization's bright young European-born players - Alex Wennberg, Oscar Dansk and Daniel Zaar are under consideration - but it would be a memorable experience for the players, as the annual tournament is being staged in Malmo, Sweden in December.
This is a big opportunity for all three players, who were selected in the last two drafts by the Blue Jackets. Dansk (second round) and Zaar (sixth round) were picked during the 2012 NHL Draft in Pittsburgh, while Wennberg was GM Jarmo Kekalainen's first of three first-round picks at this year's draft in New Jersey.
All three players have been invited to and will participate in Sweden's pre-World Junior evaluation camp, which opens this week in Lake Placid, N.Y. They will not be the only Blue Jackets prospects in attendance for the week-long camp that also features Canada, the United States and Finland. Each country will hold its own practice schedule for the week, but there is also a four-team mini-tournament on the schedule.
COLUMBUS, Ohio - When national junior team evaluation camps begin next weekend in Lake Placid, the Blue Jackets will have two prominent names participating for Hockey Canada.
Kerby Rychel, the team's second first-round pick (No. 19 overall) at the 2013 NHL Draft in New Jersey is one of 20 forwards invited to Canada's 2014 evaluation camp. Dillon Heatherington, the rangy defenseman from the Swift Current Broncos who was Columbus' fourth pick (No. 50 overall) in that same draft, has also been invited to camp for Canada as one of 10 defensemen.
The 2014 national junior team evaluation camp is sort of a junior hockey summit, with the United States, Canada, Sweden and Finland all holding practices at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid during the week of Aug. 3-10.
Coming off back-to-back 40-goal seasons with the Windsor Spitfires, Rychel is a strong contender to be one of the forwards on Canada's final WJC roster. He could play a significant role on the team, as well, alongside a star-studded group of forwards that includes Connor McDavid, Max Domi, Hunter Shinkaruk, Bo Horvat, Sean Monahan and others.
COLUMBUS, Ohio - In the wake of the NHL announcing an agreement for its players to take part in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, several national hockey associations are beginning to formulate their rosters.
While Canada and the United States are expected to announce their preliminary rosters in the coming days, Russia released its initial group of 35 this morning. Among the group are four Blue Jackets: Sergei Bobrovsky, Artem Anisimov, Fedor Tyutin and Nikita Nikitin.
Russia also announced it will hold its preliminary Olympic camp on Aug. 23-24 in Sochi.
One of the most notable items on the early Russian roster: the omission of Ilya Bryzgalov, who was the starting netminder for Russia during the World Championship tournament. The complete goaltending roster includes Bobrovsky, Semyon Varlamov of the Colorado Avalanche, Evgeni Nabokov of the New York Islanders and also Vasily Koshechkin.