directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: ESPN's Buccigross weighs in on Jackets chances..

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

ESPN's Buccigross weighs in on Jackets chances..

...and its more of the same - which is a 14th place prediction in the Western Conference:

14. Columbus Blue Jackets

The Columbus Blue Jackets have never had a foundation and, thus, are in repair. GM Doug MacLean's impatience and shortsightedness cost the Blue Jackets. Columbus had a patient, excited market that would have been OK with losing terribly in an effort to collect Top 3 overall draft picks since 2001. Here is a greatest hits list of the Top 3 overall picks since 2001: Ilya Kovalchuk, Jason Spezza, Rick Nash, Jay Bouwmeester, Kari Lehtonen, Marc-Andre Fleury, Eric Staal, Nathan Horton, Alexander Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Jack Johnson, Erik Johnson and Jordan Staal. The Blue Jackets have one of those players in Rick Nash from 2002, but they should have more.

We've been writing that here for the entire decade. Play young players, build an identity and collect Top 3 overall draft picks. New Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson seems to be on board with this philosophy. Howson told The Columbus Dispatch this summer, "You don't miss the playoffs by [23] points one year, add a high-priced free agent and make that leap. That just doesn't happen. We're at the point where this club needs to grow and needs to develop from within." The Blue Jackets made no significant signings in the summer. They have the perfect teacher in coach Ken Hitchcock, the anti-Keenan, who thrives in this role of mentor and molder of young men. Demanding, but not demeaning.

Sergei Fedorov and Adam Foote are in the last year of their deals, which pay them salaries far exceeding their current value. Fedorov makes over $6 million and Foote is at $4.6 million. That's over $10 million that will be off the books. The plan this year is simple: 1) Play the young players in all key situations; 2) Begin to plan for Fedorov and Foote deadline deals now. Zero in on teams who will most likely seek them out through direct conversations, cap numbers and assets. Perhaps packaging them to one team will garner the best return. Imagine Colorado acquiring both Foote and Fedorov at the deadline? While you are at it, see if anyone will bite on Nikolai Zherdev. The Jackets tested him as the No. 1 center in camp with the hopes of lighting a fire under his keister. That hasn't worked and now ol' ZZZZZZ might not even be a top 6 forward in Columbus.

Columbus will not make the playoffs this season, but that's OK. They need to reboot the computer, clean out the viruses and start downloading a new plan. It looks like the Howson/Hitchcock pair embraces this plan of attack. Columbus will continue to struggle to find enough offense and struggle to keep the puck out of the net on a consistent basis. The Blue Jackets are in repair, but should soon see the fruit of their ways. To quote Mayer, "They are not together, but they are getting there."

So I think at this point the "experts" are pretty much just copying each other's predictions and putting their own spin on things.

I find it hilarious that Bucci is saying the Jackets should have stunk it up so bad that they should have strived for top 3 draft pick -- I don't see Minnesota excelling with that model. In fact I don't see any playoff team outside of Pittsburgh who finally made it over the hump because top 3 draft choices. I understand his theory that MacLean was patient but its certainly more complicated than that. Just imagine if MacLean would have hired a competent coach or kept King around longer -- does he really think the Jackets would have still collected top 3 picks - not a chance.

At this point, I say bring on the doormatt predictions. Its clear nobody outside of central Ohio has any clue about the changes that have happened here. The Jackets are gonna have to earn their respect on the ice and it starts this season and that's fine. Alot of these writers got burned last year when they predicted the playoffs for essentially the same squad minus some trimmed fat and plus some young experienced players and rookies - oh and that whole Stanley Cup winning coach and new GM.

In about 2 years time guys like Buccigross will be saying how well Columbus has drafted with the likes of Nash, Brule, Brassard, Leclaire, OKT, Russell, Mason, Methot, Boll, Voracek, Sestito, Klesla, etc are leading this team and this top 3 draft pick nonsense will be quickly forgotten.


1 comment:

Matt said...

The other thing that confuses me is the "where they'll end up" predictions.

Despite all our injuries, the atrocious start, and the lack of good scoring, we finished at 11th in the West. I've yet to see a preview that puts us higher than 14th.

I just don't see how the four teams below us last year made improvements to lift them over us that we can't match.

St. Louis: Oh, everything old is new again, except even older. And Paul Kariya, who may or may not replace our scoring.

Chicago: I admit that Toews and Kane may be very, very special. I don't think the rest of the lineup around them (excepting Havlat) matches that.

Edmonton: May or may not recover from their internal bleeding, but I don't see them as a powerhouse. The rest of the Northwest is going to eat them.

Phoenix: Yeah. Turris? Turris played very well against Russia, I admit, but can anyone else tell me what Phoenix did to improve this offseason?

Nashville isn't the steamroller it was last year, Detroit has some chinks in it's armor, and I think we have the scoring and the grit to beat up on Minnesota. I don't think placing 11th again (or 10th, or 9th, and at least being competitive for 8th) is such a stretch on paper, so why do these guys all poo-poo that?