directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: When depth becomes a problem

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Friday, December 7, 2007

When depth becomes a problem

You can never have to much depth right? However it does present a problem when your depth is playing to well in place of injured regulars to sit them or send them down when the injured get healthy.
Howson, Hitch and co. are gonna have some decisions to make when the walking wounded start returning. As it stands now the following regulars are out of the lineup:

Fredrik Modin - due back in two weeks, maybe sooner
Duvie Westcott - expected to play Saturday
David Vyborny - probably about a week away
Manny Malhotra - less than two weeks away
Jiri Novotny - passed his concussion test so I'd say less than a week away

Assuming the team stays relatively healthy over the next two weeks and we get these five back - where do they fit? Currently the lineup is as follows:

Nash - Peca - Zherdev
Glencross - Fedorov - Brule
Chimera - Fritsche - Boll
Shelley - Beech - Lindstrom

Foote - Hejda
Klesla - Hainsey
Tollefsen - Russell


So what to do when guys start returning? It really all depends on if guys like Kris Beech, Curtis Glencross and Joakim Lindstrom can keep up their current level of play -- if they do, how do you possibly sit these guys?

A guy like Kris Beech has 5 points in just 4 games. That's one more point that Gilbert Brule whose played 27 games; that's two less than Dan Fritsche's 7 over 27 games; 3 less than Glencross over 20 games; 5 less than Vyborny whose played 26 games; on and on an on. All that with just averaging over 10 minutes a game. No way you can sit him.

Then you look at Joakim Lindstrom. He's played 2 games and already has a goal. He looks much more effective than most guys we've played on the 2nd PP unit. He's only average just over 8 mins per game and has been noticeable at least offensively. You'd think the coaching staff would want to see if this kid is ready to breakout - especially given our offensive struggles.

If all were healthy Saturday this is how I'd ice the team against the Wild:

Nash - Beech - Zherdev
Modin - Fedorov - Glencross
Chimera - Peca - Fritsche
Lindstrom - Novotny - Boll

Foote - Hejda
Klesla - Hainsey
Westcott - Tollefsen

* Modin when healthy, is in this lineup regardless - he's a lock
* I think at this point some of the injured all may take a back seat to how the callups play -- if they are hot, keep them out under the line "day to day" -- which is why Beech, Lindstrom and Glencross remain in my lineup.
* Brule is sent down for a much needed stint in the AHL to regain confidence
* Shelley is scratched for this game to make room for Lindstrom - we need his skill on the PP
* Russell is scratched and watches from the box although I'm not down on this kid personally -- he's coming along well but he's the logical choice to scratch if we have 7 d-men ready to go

Bottom line is that is very doubtful this team will be at 100% health all year but if they are, there will be some tough decisions to make. If a guy like Beech is sent down there is now a very good chance he's claimed as he'd have to pass through waivers. I don't think the organization can afford to do that. We'll see non-waiver eligible players sent down before that happens like Brule (who desperately needs to go down) and Lindstrom who may make a good case to stay up.

Depth is a great thing to have, we Jackets fans should know considering we've never really had it before, but it can also keep a guy like GM Scott Howson up at night pondering what moves to make.

Speaking of Howson... Hejda / Novonty / Peca / Beech -- how good are those signings looking? Credit to coach Hitchcock as well - he knows how to get the absolute very best out of the hand he's dealt.


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