Since being drafted in the first round of the 2007 draft, defenseman Jonathon Blum has only cracked an NHL lineup for 110 games. Now the 26-year-old blueliner will be trying his hand overseas.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Michael Russo reported that Blum, who the Nashville Predators drafted 23rd overall in 2007, has signed a one-year contract with the KHL’s Admiral Vladivostok. The KHL deal will be Blum’s first foray into playing overseas and will see the veteran get a full season of big league action under his belt.
Over the past six seasons, Blum hasn’t been a fixture of NHL lineups, rather spending his time in the AHL between Predators’ affiliate Milwaukee Admirals and, more recently, with the Iowa Wild, the Minnesota Wild’s farm club. This past season he managed a call up for only four games with the Wild, three of which were played in January. He also watched 14 games as a healthy scratch with Minnesota in 2014-15.
The CHL’s defenseman of the year in 2008-09 following a 16-goal, 66-point season with the WHL’s Vancouver Giants, Blum’s career hasn’t exactly gone how he would have hoped. After the completion of his entry-level deal in Nashville and a subsequent one-year, two-way deal with the Predators, the team chose to walk away from the first-round pick. He wasn’t issued a qualifying offer as a restricted free agent following the 2012-13 season and hit the open market, signing a one-year, two-way contract with the Minnesota Wild, which became a two-year stay with another one-year deal following the 2013-14 season.
Blum’s inability to make the jump to the NHL as an effective blueliner hasn’t been for lack of offensive ability at the AHL level. This past season, Blum had arguably the best AHL campaign of his career, scoring 12 goals and 37 points in 66 games with Iowa.
The Long Beach, Calif., native simply hasn’t found a way to translate that minor league success into convincing NHL ability. In his final three seasons in Nashville, Blum was given the opportunity to split time between the AHL and NHL, but failed to capture more than a third-pairing role with the Predators and mustered 7 goals and 22 points in 91 games with Nashville.
In Blum’s two seasons in the Wild organization, it has been even tougher to get into the NHL lineup. With Ryan Suter, Jonas Brodin, Marco Scandella, Jared Spurgeon, Matt Dumba and Christian Folin ahead of Blum on the depth chart and promising former-NCAA blueliner Mike Reilly on his way, there simply wasn’t a spot for Blum this season should he want to get a shot at the NHL again this season.
Blum isn’t the only player to leave minor league duty to head to Admiral this off-season, as goaltender Igor Bobkov chose to head back to the KHL rather than continue to search for a free agent deal in North America.