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COLUMBUS FORWARD SIGNS KHL CONTRACT, DESPITE BEING PLAYOFF-BOUND

With the NHL still dithering on the details over the restart of the season amid growing concerns over rising COVID-19 positive tests across the country, at least one player on a playoff-bound team chose not to wait.

26-year-old Columbus forward Jakob Lilja signed a one-year deal with KHL's Barys Nur-Sultan. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Unlike some of the previous KHL contracts with NHLers in this off-season, Lilja is a member of a team that is due to take part in the new format of the playoffs. When the season ended, the Blue Jackets were actually holding the 2nd Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. Lilja had signed a one-year entry-level contract with the Jackets had played in 37 games for them during the season, scoring two goals and adding three assists. Despite also spending 22 games down in the AHL with the Cleveland Monsters, at the time of the season stoppage Lilja was on the Blue Jackets roster.

With the Jackets set to face the Maple Leafs in the first round of the playoffs, sometime around July 30th, Lilja took the offer from Barys rather than ride the bench for Columbus. The KHL season is due to start in early September, though that league is also operating on tentative dates with the COVID situation contributing to the uncertainty. Lilja was not drafted into the NHL, but gained the attention of scouts after a breakout season at the Swedish Hockey League's Djurgardens IF with 12 goals and 25 assists in 52 games during the 2018-19 season.



Source: Barys official website
MIKE OLIVSON
JUNE 25, 2020  (10H52)
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