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Traverse City and Zach's Contract Details

September 11, 2019, 3:11 PM ET [2 Comments]
Thomas Townsend
Columbus Blue Jackets Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
For 5 days in Traverse City the CBJ got to evaluate their young talent in an NHL-ish game setting. Columbus performed well, grabbing a 3rd place finish, winning three gamesand dropping only one match.

Goaltending Concerns

Merzlikins GAA 3.02 Sv% .889
Vehvilainen GAA 2.81 Sv% .893

Both stats above prove concerning for each goalie. It is their first NHL experience. They are adjusting to a smaller rink and a different North American style of hockey. Vehvilainen won both the games he started including the 3rd place game. Merzlikins lost the match up with Dallas giving up 4 goals and trailing most of that game.

Put in perspective, this tournament is about learning and evaluation. I think both Elvis and VV got experience and could take away things they can work on going into their first season in North America.

No Surprise

It is no surprise to me that Texier and Fix-Wolansky carried play up front while Peeke was a strong influence on the blue line. Texier had two OT winning goals. Peeke was the captain for the tournament and gobbled up minutes especially on the PP.


There were 3 skaters that I didn't have an eye on before this tournament, that put themselves on the CBJ map with their performance. Egor Sokolov, Jakob Lilja and Maxime Fortier all had their names called over-and-over during the tournament...and for good reasons.

Finding anything on Sokolov proved challenging. Even YouTube highlights were lacking and everyone has YouTube highlights these days. He has played two seasons for Cape Breton (QMJHL) scoring 99 points (51 goals) in 132 games and is listed on their 2019-2020 opening day roster. He is an undrafted player who was in CBJ camp in 2018.

Jakob Lilja has been playing in Swedish leagues dating back to 2008, he is under contact for this season with the CBJ and was on the top line at Traverse City with Texier and Fix-Wolansky. The line he was on probably allowed for more opportunities, but he also created scoring chances. In the last 4 seasons in the SHL he totaled 193 games and 98 points (47 goals).

Maxime Fortier is a player that is also under contract for the CBJ. Last season he split time between the Jacksonville IceMen (ECHL) and Cleveland Monsters (AHL). In CLE he scored 1 goal in 20 games. Prior to that he averaged better than a point a game for the Halifax Mooseheads. Here is a YouTube highlight video from his 2016-2017 season:

The Wrinkle in Werenski's Contract

Three years for $15M sounds great. And it is, no matter how you divide the dollars over the years. But the wrinkle is that in the final year of his contract he will be paid $7M. Why in the world does that matter at all, you may ask? It matters because he will still be an RFA when the contract ends. Meaning that a qualifying offer will have to be more than $7M per year for at least three years. That is the minimum he can be qualified at by the Jackets. In other words it is the starting point for the next contract negotiation. And he has more leverage with arbitration rights. Don't worry, this is not a huge deal, but it is a wrinkle. If he under-performs at all over the next three years or has injuries this could be a concern. Based upon consistent play he will totally be worth it.

That's all for now, thanks for reading.
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