NHL Rumors: Latest Buzz on Sergei Bobrovsky, Nic Petan and More

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistMarch 19, 2019

It seems clear Sergei Bobrovsky will move on from the Blue Jackets in free agency.
It seems clear Sergei Bobrovsky will move on from the Blue Jackets in free agency.Associated Press

The Columbus Blue Jackets were unable to convince goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to put his signature on a contract extension this season.

There was quite a bit of consideration that general manager Jarmo Kekalainen would trade the Russian prior to the trade deadline so the team could get something for its No. 1 goaltender before he had a chance to walk away in free agency.

However, Kekalainen was not of a mind to trade Bobrovsky for 25 cents or 50 cents on the dollar. He held the same philosophy with forward Artemi Panarin, who is also on track to become a free agent July 1. Instead, the Columbus GM added Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel to his team in separate trades with the Ottawa Senators.

Kekalainen and the Blue Jackets were more interested in building their team in order to earn a spot in the postseason and hopefully make a run in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

That philosophy is somewhat debatable. Going into the final 10 games of the season, Columbus is in eighth place in the Eastern Conference and inside the playoff structure.

The Blue Jackets have a three-point edge on the Montreal Canadiens and a six-point lead over the Philadelphia Flyers. They may well make the playoffs, but if they hold onto the No. 8 position, that means they would have a first-round matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Lightning have been the best regular-season team in the NHL by a wide margin, and they clinched the Presidents Trophy Monday night with a 4-1 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. The thought of them losing a series to the No. 8 seed would be shocking.

That means the Blue Jackets are getting set to say goodbye to their goaltender. Aaron Portzline of The Athletic wrote Monday that "Bobrovsky is expected to move on" when free agency commences.

While the 30-year-old will find out what he is worth on the open market this summer, the Blue Jackets are making other plans at the goaltender position.

They are "closing in" on a deal to sign red-hot prospect Elvis Merzlikins, per PortzlineThe Latvian is currently playing for HC Lugano in Switzerland, but he and agent Hnat Domenichelli are discussing a deal with the Blue Jackets. 

Portzline reported the deal might come together quickly and the 24-year-old could fly to the United States where he may begin playing for the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League once he gets a work visa.

The Blue Jackets would like to see how he plays over the final three weeks of the season so they can make assessments about their goaltending plans for the 2019-20 season and beyond.

The Toronto Maple Leafs went through their most disappointing week of the regular season as they lost three of four games, but they appear to be getting some good news regarding their roster.

Depth forward Nic Petan, who was acquired from the Winnipeg Jets prior to the trade deadline, is about to sign a contract extension. The Canadian, who turns 24 on Friday, has played just 16 games this season, with three of those coming in in a Toronto uniform.

While the Leafs don't look at Petan as a star on the rise, they do see him as a depth forward, and they are going to reward him with a two-year contract extension, per Irfaan Gaffar of Sportsnet.

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