Columbus Dispatch/Blue Jackets Aaron Portzline answered readers' questions during an hourlong Here's the transcript:
Note: Transcript is from April 13.
My answers will follow instead of his.
1. Do you think the NHL will adapt the AHL's standings system of winning percentage trumping points? In your view, does this help balance the impact of 3 point games?
I think the league might look at it, but what would the difference be? The longest playoff streak in the modern era broken? It could change once the streak is broken, but I expect a decision like this to change the Eastern Conference more than the West. Plus, once the streak is broken, other young teams in the East like Cbus, Philly, and B-town could be quite competitive.
2. How is Torts going to save the franchise with the Best Training Camp Ever when he's busy coaching in the World Cup?
Some of the World Cup events are happening in Columbus, so it does make it easier for Torts to be around the team for a period of time.
3. Our "#1 pair" Murray and Jones get scored on A LOT. Do they have any plans to train in Columbus together over the summer to develop some better chemistry? Or should we try again and draft and develop another #1 center to trade for a defenseman?
With the Jackets picking at number three, they will definitely be drafting a Finnish forward, the question is whether the Jets take Patrik Laine or Jesse Puljujarvi. I would not be surprised if the Jones and Murray train in the offseason, but the Jackets do have young defensemen coming up. Dillion Heatherington is close; and we saw a bit of Dean Kukan and John Ramage near the end of the season.
4. How much more offensive upside does Boone have? It's so nice to see a young player playing the right way for once, let alone scoring 30 goals while doing it. Ryan who?
Boone is only 22 and has already scored 30 goals in a season. Jenner will surely have another couple of 30 goals seasons because he can snipe the puck from a distance, but is also not afraid to drive the crease. Johansen is a strictly offensive player and does not backcheck or go fight for the puck, but he is also young, so you cannot blame that on him.
5. What do you see the market like for Hartnell this summer? They seem short on draft picks in a good draft, but they'd probably need to bring some salary back this way, right?
The Jackets were extremely close to moving Scottie at the deadline, and it was supposed to involve Kevin Fiala. Earlier in the season, Eklund said on his show there was discussion of Johansen and Hartnell for Jones and Colin Wilson (who is a playoff beast).
6. in ceramics class , We sat directly across the ice from the Jackets penalty box for the season finale. When Foligno headed to the box after his second penalty, a fan in a Blackhawks jersey, sitting in the first seat next to the box, yelled something. I was surprised when Foligno engaged the guy, and actually stayed standing in the box while having an animated conversation. After about 30-45 seconds, Foligno squirted water from the bottle he was holding. I think the water made contact, because the guy -- who about 5 minutes later was escorted by police from his seat -- wiped his face. Did you hear anything about this incident, and would a player be fined by the NHL for something like this. Would a fine like this be announced publicly or done quietly?
I didn't see the incident, but it is nice to see that the captain still have heart for his team in a bad season. Since the league did not say anything about it, Foligno probably got away with it
7. what kind of terms do you expect on Wild Bill's next contract? i know he doesn't put up a lot of points, but he is already elite in his own zone. this might be the one instance where I'd forego the bridge with a young player and lock him up long term
Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen has had a pattern of giving young players bridge contracts this year because of how close they are to the cap, and they have yet to resign Seth Jones. My guess is William Karlsson will join the likes of Boone Jenner and Ryan Murray on a two year bridge deal. My guess is the cap hit will be $1.5 million per season since he does produce and is on the penalty kill.
8. Where have you seen Torts succeed where potentially Richards failed? To the outsider, it seems all we have gained is a coach that says the obvious instead of the one that was politically correct, yet the results are the same.
Tortorella has brought in a type of public discipline that Richards has not used during his time. Torts was not happy with veterans Nick Foligno, Scott Hartnell, and Fedor Tyutin, and he benched them all. The Jackets also had an eight game winless streak to start of the season. Besides that, they were near a 0.500 record.
9. Given that this club needs cap relief so badly, what kinds of "sweeteners" might we have to throw in this offseason to get teams to take our big contracts (e.g. Tyutin, Hartnell)?
Rene Borque will not be back. That gets rid of $3.3 million dollars. Tyutin had Detroit's interest at the deadline; and Hartnell had Nashville's. Those are other good chunks of salary that can still go.
10. If the CBJ don't win the lottery, what other avenues do you see to get ahold of that elusive #1 Center?
There were rumors of Tomas Hertl at the deadline, and Alex Galchenyuk might be out there if the Habs look to blow up. Edmonton might move Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Toronto might do the same with Nazem Kadri. There are young options. They could package a bunch of secondary forwards or defensemen.
11. Which ex-Jacket would you like to see win the Cup this year?
I would like to see either Scottie Upshall or Kris Russell win it, but I feel Jason Chimera deserves it the most because of his age.
12. Rychel, Bjork, Milano, Anderson, Kukan, and Korpi all had moments of greatness this year. Please tell me Jarmo isn't going to do anything desperate over the summer but rather will allow the team to grow from within. The kids are alright!
The kids are alright. I agree that this team is staying the way it is with these young guys. The Jackets have to let these guys grow because they are the future of the organization. They could eventually help the present guys on the team, however they need more young defensemen.
13. Is there a rule in the NHL to allow for teams to go over the salary cap to sign their own talent similar to the NBA Larry Bird rule (not 100% certain about)? As in, if Jones is tendered, can CBJ match any offer?
There is a rule where teams can go either 10 or 20 percent over the cap, but it could be somewhere in between. This is allowed over the summer, but that team has to then get back to cap floor. The Hawks and B's had to suffer that fate by having to trade Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy (as Eklund calls it- Ledchuk'd) to the New York Islanders. I am sure that Kekalainen will find a way to get an unexpected trade like he has done in the past.
15. Besides reporting to the owner and having GMJK report to him, what does JD actually do for the CBJ?
As president, John Davidson oversees what Kekalainen does, including drafting, trading, and signing free agents.
16. How many agents are in the NHL? Whenever I hear about a contract situation, it seems like the same 2 or 3 names pop up?
I don't know for sure but I do know Kurt Overhardt represents Ryan Johansen and Brandon Dubinsky; Bill Zito used to be the agent for Kimmo Timonen and Tukka Rask; and Joe Thornton's agent is his brother. Dan Wallace represents Jonathan Drouin and we know what happened to him.
17. A few seasons in, what does the rest of the league think about the new playoff format? I wish they would go back to the old system. I literally cannot tell you how absurd and unfair it is that a team as good as the blues has to play Chicago in the first round every year.
Both systems were nice to watch. The 1-8, 2-7, 3-6, 4-5 match ups provided easier competition for the top teams, and harder challenges for the weaker teams. The new format ignites divisional rivalries in the first round, including very stiff competition. This season, two of the top five teams in the league in Chicago and St. Louis fought in the first round. This is fun and entertaining, and it makes the playoffs harder to predict. Could this have been a conference final? Yes. Is it still fun to watch in the early postseason.
18. How do the jackets feel about Bob playing IIHF and World Cup? Good to get him in rhythm or worried for his health?
I think Bobs and Tyutin will be on team Russia. Bobrovsky did come back and play late in the season. Hopefully, he does not get injured in the World Cup, because he will not be helping his country or his Blue Jackets.
19. Porty, Joey (60 points this season by the way) exploded on the scene in his third season. They are different players, but how likely is a similar explosion from Wennberg in season three next year? Do you have any confidence he is a 70 point plus, top six center? Or is 50 points and third line what he is?
The sky is the limit for a young center man. He has produced with the right players, mainly Scott Hartnell and Brandon Saad. If he is with skilled players, he may get 60, but I think 50 sounds logical.
20. What player has impressed you the most this season?
To me, the most impressive player this year has been Boone Jenner and his first half of the season.
21. Assuming Bob is the starter next year, who gets the full-time backup nod: Korpi or CMac?
I think McElhinney finished out his last year on his deal, and then his future is unknown to me. Does he go to the AHL or find another backup job or go overseas?
22. Any word on negotiations with Jones? Some reports say he's looking to avoid the bridge deal, but with his play on the ice, seems like the bridge would be better for the Jackets. Give him some time to develop and earn the long-term deal and $.
My gut feeling is he gets a long term deal like Saad since he was a proven player on a different team; however, because of the Jackets' cap issues, he may have to settle on a bridge deal. If a bridge deal, I am guessing 2 years, $6 million. If a long term deal, I am guessing a $6 year, $36 million deal.
What are your thoughts? More to come…