NHL News: Blue Jackets acquire Mikko Lehtonen, Artemi Panarin return for Rangers, Jack Eichel and Anders Lee out for foreseeable future

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Feb 13, 2020; Buffalo, New York, USA; Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (9) celebrates his goal with teammates during the second period against the Columbus Blue Jackets at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Things never quite panned out for 27 year-old defenseman Mikko Lehtonen and the Toronto Maple Leafs. That’s why the Columbus Blue Jackets traded goalie prospect, Veini Vehvilainen for him.

NHL News: Blue Jackets trade for Mikko Lehtonen

Jarmo Kekalainen pursued the Finnish defenseman this offseason before Lehtonen opted to sign with the Maple Leafs. Columbus has assigned him to their taxi squad as he works on his visa and goes through quarantine.

Lehtonen, 27, who was signed by the Maple Leafs to a one-year, entry level contract on May 4, 2020, made his NHL debut with the club this season and collected three assists with four penalty minutes and a +1 plus/minus rating in nine games. He skated in his first NHL game on January 18 vs. Winnipeg and registered his first career assist and point on January 30 at Edmonton.

Blue Jackets Press Release

NHL News: Artemi Panarin returns

artemi panarin
Feb 14, 2020; Columbus, Ohio, USA; New York Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin (10) takes a shot on goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the third period at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been well over two weeks since Artemi Panarin was leveled by false allegation and need a leave of absence to deal with it. He last played on February 20th and has missed the last 9 games since dealing with fallout from false allegations from a former KHL coach. It was a 4-1 win against the Capitals where he picked up two assists.

His center, Ryan Strome picked up a goal in that contest and sounded thrilled to get his partner back. “It felt good to have him out there,” Strome said yesterday. “His infectious energy – a little jolt to the group – just his smile – the curls going flowing out there – it looks like he hasn’t missed a beat.”

The Rangers and Bruins will face off at 1PM ET.

NHL News: Two captains out

Buffalo Sabres coach Ralph Krueger provided an update on Jack Eichel. “I will say [Jack Eichel] is out for the foreseeable future,” Krueger said. “Because of the nature of the injury we can’t put a fixed date on that and we are expecting it to go on a little longer.”

Eichel has sought a second opinion for his injury.

The Islanders will also be without their captain, Anders Lee. According to head coach Barry Trotz, “[Lee] won’t be with us for a little while.”