directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Boston and Columbus in trade talks?

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Boston and Columbus in trade talks?

Just saw this on

With goalie Manny Fernandez (knee surgery) lost for the season, and the return date for Patrice Bergeron (Grade 3 concussion) still in question, the Bruins are looking to make a deal or two, perhaps among their forward and defensive corps.

One longtime scout, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said last night at the Garden he

believed the Bruins were in talks with Columbus, which will be in town tomorrow night.

The Blue Jackets, who look capable of landing the franchise's first playoff berth, were rumored in the offseason to be trying to move talented Russian winger Nikolai Zherdev, who has a history of being somewhat of a lone ranger on the ice.

However, under the thumb of coach Ken Hitchcock for a second season, Zherdev has been more responsible and effective of late. He was shut out two nights ago against Colorado, but he scored in five straight games before the blanking. In 31 games this season, Zherdev has 12 goals and 24 points. Chuck Kobasew leads the Bruins with 12 goals.

The Bruins also might have their eye on Rostislav Klesla, a 6-foot-3-inch Czech defenseman whom the Blue Jackets selected No. 4 overall in the 2000 draft. Klesla logs about 23 minutes per night, and has gone 3-5 -8 in 31 games this season. Connecticut favorite son Ron Hainsey leads Columbus defensemen in scoring with three goals and 15 points.

Of course the timing of this article is curious as Columbus just happens to play Boston tomorrow night in Boston.

While I'm sure there have been discussions - Howson has probably had discussions with every team in the NHL, its what GMs do - I think this writer missed the boat on possible names that would be available from a CBJ perspective.

For one, teams had their shot at Z for a steal this summer -- absolutely no way the teams deals this kid now unless its of equal or greater value. So unless your talking about Phil Kessel or a guy like Mark Savard the Jackets aren't listening. They can't deal their best puck carrier who seems to have finally "got it" on and off the ice unless its another dynamic player coming in return. Z is signed through next season @ 2.5 per and even then will be a RFA so his contract is cap/budget friendly.

Rusty Klelsa is another guy of whom they probably won't move just to move, it would have to be an impact player coming back the other way. The Jackets just don't have the depth on the blueline. That and Rusty has a nice contract (signed for 2 more years @ 1.6 mil per) and now finally has a coach who knows how to teach and help him improve his game.

Not saying either of those guys can't be dealt - nobody is untouchable - I just think its highly unlikely given their play and contracts unless some high valued young assets return the other way...and like Columbus, teams just don't deal those kinds of assets away very often.

Instead I think the most likely candidates to be dealt are the players who are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents at the end of the year. Those players are Fedorov, Foote, Vyborny, Shelley, Peca, Chimera & Hainsey. That's a healthy chunk of our lineup and obviously not all will get dealt and some will be resigned (or at least attempted to be).

Of that group Howson would be looking to deal the guys he and his staff (including Hitch) feel don't fit into the long terms plans of the team in terms of the style they want to play and money they want to pay. Fedorov is definitely one of those guys (IMO of course) and I think guys like Hainsey and even long time Jacket David Vyborny could be as well. Those are the guys who are most likely to be dealt on this squad whether it be for immediate help, draft picks and/or to trim some fat (i.e salary) out of the roster.

From reading into a bit of what Howson has said lately - which is basically that he doesn't have anything in the works now - don't look for any of those guys to be dealt before the new year. In fact the NHL wide rosters freeze kicks in on Dec 19th until Dec 27th. So that would only give him 4 days to make a move.

Instead the second half of January heading up to the trade deadline in February is when things should really heat up and I expect some action from the Columbus brass. The time for Howson to really put his stamp on this team will start then.


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