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Over The Boards

Mailbag: Bobrovsky, Panarin futures with Blue Jackets

NHL.com's Dan Rosen answers weekly questions

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

Here is the May 8 edition of Dan Rosen's weekly mailbag, which runs every Wednesday. If you have a question, tweet it to @drosennhl and use #OvertheBoards.

 

Has the Columbus Blue Jackets postseason run altered the likelihood of either Sergei Bobrovsky or Artemi Panarin returning? -- @tealforreal_96

My take is that I don't think it will matter much and that each of them, who can become unrestricted free agents July 1, will be leaving. It wouldn't surprise me if they each sign with the Florida Panthers. Bobrovsky, in fact, spoke in past tense about his time in Columbus after a season-ending 4-0 loss to the Boston Bruins on Monday. That doesn't mean he's definitely leaving, but it certainly gives an indication as to what he is thinking. It wouldn't shock me if center Matt Duchene, another pending UFA, re-signs with the Blue Jackets, but that would only happen after he explores every possible option available to him. He likes it in Columbus but could look for greener pastures elsewhere. If I had to bet, that's what Bobrovsky and Panarin are going to do.

 

With goaltending in such focus in the playoffs (many one-goal games, lots of overtime), what are the chances that a goalie is named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner this year? Last time it happened was 2012 (Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings) and the year before it was Tim Thomas of the Bruins. -- @TrishTheMiddle

There's a good chance of it happening if the Bruins continue to advance. My pick for the Conn Smythe Trophy, which goes to the most valuable player of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, at the middle of the postseason is Boston goalie Tuukka Rask. He was the biggest reason why the Bruins defeated the Blue Jackets after getting his game together in time for them to get past the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Eastern Conference First Round. Rask allowed three goals on 57 shots (.947 save percentage) to help Boston win Games 6 and 7 against Toronto. He followed with a 1.71 goals-against average and .948 save percentage in six games against Columbus and stopped all 39 shots he faced in Game 6. He also made 39 saves in a 4-1 win in Game 4, when the only goal he allowed was the one to Panarin after the puck hit off the spectator netting and play should have been blown dead. The Blue Jackets briefly got to Rask in Game 5, when he allowed three goals in a span of 3:25 in the third period, but Boston still won that game 4-3.

There are other deserving Conn Smythe Trophy candidates for sure, including San Jose Sharks center Logan Couture and Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, who will play against each other in Game 7 of the Western Conference Second Round at SAP Center on Wednesday (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS). But Rask is my pick now and if the Bruins continue on, he'll likely keep bolstering his candidacy.

Video: BOS@CBJ, Gm6: Rask records shutout in Game 6 win

 

Who are five teams that are in salary cap trouble, five players (one from each of those teams) that they will trade, and five teams that will be in position to collect from the troubles? -- @KevinCuffel

Five teams in salary cap trouble: Winnipeg Jets, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, Pittsburgh Penguins, Nashville Predators

Five players to be traded: Jacob Trouba, Jets; Tyler Johnson, Lightning; Kasperi Kapanen, Maple Leafs; Phil Kessel, Penguins; P.K. Subban, Predators

Five teams in position to collect: New York Rangers, Arizona Coyotes, Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, New Jersey Devils

 

What non-playoff team do you think has the brightest future? -- @MrESPN

Lots of candidates here, including the Devils and Rangers, especially considering they have the first and second picks in the 2019 NHL Draft, respectively. But my pick is the Panthers after hiring Joel Quenneville as coach. The Panthers can make a splash this offseason and add to a team that is already in position to win.

I think Quenneville will have enough power to sway Panarin to come to Florida, and with him I think Bobrovsky could follow, as I mentioned above. It helps, of course, that Panthers forward Evgenii Dadonov and Panarin are close friends. The Panthers are also ready to win now with the talent they have, especially down the middle and on defense. Aleksander Barkov and Vincent Trocheck are the best 1-2 center duo that nobody talks about. Let's not forget about Aaron Ekblad and how good he is, and I think Mike Matheson has terrific upside as an elite skater, and a smart, savvy, solid defenseman. Keith Yandle has great wheels and puck-handling skills from the back end. If they add Panarin on the wing, he'll join an already deep top-six group of wings with Jonathan Huberdeau, Mike Hoffman and Dadonov. With Barkov and Trocheck, that's a top-six forward group that can match up with any in the NHL. 

The Atlantic Division won't be getting any easier with the Lightning, Maple Leafs and Bruins likely to return as playoff contenders and the Montreal Canadiens looking to build off a positive season that nearly was good enough to get them in the playoffs. But the Panthers will be right there, pushing for a playoff spot. We'll see how it shakes out this offseason, but if they're able to add Panarin and/or Bobrovsky, they'll be a hot pick in the preseason.

Video: Panthers' hire Joel Quenneville as their head coach

 

If Erik Karlsson hits free agency, do you think a team with thin cap space (like the Lightning) would entertain the idea of making a move or two to squeeze him in if he shows interest? -- @BWipperf

I think any team Karlsson, who can become a UFA on July 1, shows interest in will entertain the idea of squeezing him in. It'll be a tight squeeze because the Sharks defenseman is likely going to get a contract with a high average annual value. I think the Lightning would have to make at least three moves to get him in and I'm not sure they're going to be inclined to do that. That's a big shakeup for one player, even one as talented as Karlsson. 

There are other teams that won't have to make as many moves to get him in, like the Rangers, Devils, Panthers (depending on the Panarin/Bobrovsky interest), Canadiens, Vancouver Canucks, Buffalo Sabres, Philadelphia Flyers, Chicago Blackhawks and Blue Jackets. My guess is he'll go to free agency, but it wouldn't shock me if San Jose re-signs him. The Sharks always seem to be in the mix for top free agents. I just don't see how the Lightning make it work, especially with right wing Nikita Kucherov's cap charge going up to $9.5 million and center Brayden Point also in need of a new contract that could pay him north of $8 million per season.

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