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Thursday, June 1, 2023
June 1, 2023

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Kraken get Bjorkstrand from Blue Jackets for draft picks

Ex-Winterhawk coming off career high for goals


SEATTLE — Some needed firepower was again added by the Kraken on Friday when the team acquired 28-goal-scoring Columbus Blue Jackets winger Oliver Bjorkstrand for a pair of 2023 draft picks.

Bjorkstrand, 27, a 6-foot, 177-pound onetime Portland Winterhawks junior product, is coming off a season in which he scored a career high for goals and in points with 57. In return for the Denmark native, the Kraken sent the Blue Jackets a third- and fourth-round pick next summer.

“We’re excited to welcome Oliver to our organization,” Kraken general manager Ron Francis said in a release. “He’s coming off of a career year offensively playing top minutes in Columbus. His creativity and hockey sense will be good additions to our forward group.”

The move comes nine days after the Kraken signed free agent Colorado Avalanche winger Andre Burakovsky to a five-year, $37.5 million deal and adds some badly needed offensive production. His goals and points totals were more than any other Kraken player had last season.

Bjorkstrand’s breakout season was preceded by a 2010-21 campaign in which he also scored 18 goals in just 56 games. He has four years remaining on a five-year contract signed in January 2021 that averages $5.4 million annually.

With the move, the Kraken now have just over $5 million in additional salary cap space remaining for next season.

Blue Jackets sign Patrik Laine to $34.8 million, 4-year deal — The Columbus Blue Jackets have re-signed winger Patrik Laine to a $34.8 million, four-year contract, completing the final major item on their offseason checklist.

The deal announced Friday carries an $8.7 million salary cap hit through 2026 and gives Columbus a scoring winger to go along with prized free-agent addition Johnny Gaudreau.

When they surprisingly landed Gaudreau, the big question was whether the Blue Jackets would be able to fit Laine under the cap as a restricted free agent. General manager Jarmo Kekalainen made sure that wasn’t an issue.

Panthers get Tkachuk from Flames for Huberdeau, Weegar — Matthew Tkachuk and Jonathan Huberdeau both had the best years of their career this past season. And now they’re changing places in an NHL blockbuster.

Tkachuk was traded to the Florida Panthers on Friday night, with Huberdeau part of the haul that is going to the Calgary Flames for the power forward. Florida also sent defenseman MacKenzie Weegar, prospect Cole Schwindt and a lottery-protected first-round selection in the 2025 NHL Draft.

“Matthew is a tenacious, physical competitor who possesses a tremendously unique skillset,” Panthers general manager Bill Zito said. “He is a consistent elite offensive contributor and has emerged as one of the most complete and dynamic young players in the National Hockey League. We are thrilled to be able to add a generational talent to our lineup.”

As part of the move, Tkachuk is under contract with Florida through the 2029-30 season now as well, the Panthers said. Tkachuk decided earlier in the week that he would not accept such a deal to stay in Calgary — which immediately led to trade talks and no shortage of suitors around the NHL wanting to land him.