Monday, December 31, 2007
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Couple of nuggets Jacket fans.
Derrick Brassard returned to the Syracuse Crunch yesterday with a bang. He recorded 2 assists, was a -1, had two shots and 2 pims. More importantly the team won. Not bad for a first game after suffering a freak broken jaw injury. Look for this kid to get recalled sometime in January.
Also check out this article written by Bob Hunter in the Dispatch today. Some fun stuff regarding the 2007 sports year and a lot of Jacket references. You can read it here.
Labels: Derrick Brassard
The Jackets, in front of a damn near sell out crowd (nice job fans!) and off a remarkable 4 point night from Nik Zherdev, beat the Carolina Hurricanes last night 4-2.
Leclaire had another solid effort but it was Nik Zherdev who stole the show. He's been the Jackets best forward for the past month or so and in one play he signaled just how far he's come as a person, a professional and as a teammate.
No, it wasn't the eye popping coast to coast wrister that got the Jackets on the board..... no, it wasn't the breakaway bottle buster and no it wasn't the assist on Rusty Klesla's goal....it was his decision to forgo an empty net chance at a hat trick and pass the puck to Kris Beech for a slum dunk goal that sealed the victory and had the majority of fans (including myself) put their hats back on their heads.
It was a play I didn't think Zherdev would ever be capable of....a play I couldn't have dreamed he'd make just one short year ago when he was a selfish, standoffish, disgruntled, unmotivated person, professional and teammate.
I don't know how this transformation happened in just s short time -- whether it be Hitch, Howson, his agent, himself or a combination but this is a Zherdev he should be proud of. This is a Zherdev fans love and will continue to love. This is a Zherdev this team desperately needs. Although he didn't get the hat trick, my hat is definitely off to #13.
On to the game:
Lit it up
Z. 2 goals, 2 assists, +3. Well else can I say about this guy. He has totally proved people like me wrong this year. I love being wrong in these cases. Man crush activated.
Leclaire. Only allowed 1 goal off of 24 shots. A couple of the game saving (how bout that save on Stillman in the 2nd?), momentum prevention variety. He has now tied his record high for wins with 12 just 38 games into this season. After a bit of a slump he's really come on his past two starts.
Solid team performance. Team got that first goal and just went from there. Up and down the lineup pretty much everyone had a solid outing. Not many passengers (although there were a few - more on that later). Overall this team was a +15 on the night.
PP. As much as I've ragged on the PP this season I'll definitely give the PP its due credit when deserved. The Jackets got a PP goal last night and really had some nice control and puck movement on most of their opportunities.
As with the PP I've beat up Ron Hainsey quite a bit this year. As with the PP I"ll give Hainsey his due as well. I thought he played very well last night. Finally got some shots through, played well defensively and played physical. He leads all Jackets defensemen with 20 points, is a +6 and is actually 3rd in overall scoring on this team. I'm slowly beginning to believe in this guy -- still needs to work on his breakout pass and overall competitive level though.
The crowd. 17,500 in attendance last night. THAT'S what I'm talkin about C-bus!
Dim the light
PK. Wasn't perfect but killed off 3 of 4 penalties. I believe that's 4 straight games the PK has given up a goal. Need to regroup a bit here.
Westcott. Guy is playing pretty decent hockey right now after some really bad games early.
Novotny. I LOVE the way this guys is playing. He led all forwards with ice time last night with over 20 minutes. He's playing in every situation. He doesn't lift you out of your seat (although he did pull out a little razzle dazzle last night) he just a solid dependable player who makes the right play 98% of the time. How great is this signing looking?
Jarred Boll. Had his league leading 15th fight last night. That's 4 more than his nearest challenger. See all fights here.
Kris Russell. More and more confident every game. This kid will get a goal soon. How sweet would it be if it came on New Years? Every time he rushes the puck I just have to sit back and admire the effortless way this kid skates.
Rick Nash. Looked more like the Nash from early in the season. Finally got a point to end a 7 game drought. He just needs to get a one.
Officiating was much better last night. Much more consistant.
How often is Jason Chimera going to go offsides? This guy really needs to hit and use his big 6'2" frame more.
David Vyborny. Did he even play last night?
Sergie Fedorov. Its not that he played awfull but I expect so much more out of our 6 million dollar man.
3 bright lights on the night
1. Nik Zherdev. A given here.
2. Overall team performance. Not many passengers and got up early.
3. Pascal Leclaire. Earned his 12th win and stopped 23 of 24 shots.
The Jackets move to 17-15-6. They have 40 points which ties them for 2nd in the Central and puts them 11th in the conference, 3 points out of the 8th playoff spot. It took them until January 16th last year to reach 17 wins. It took them until Jan 19th to reach 40 points. Oh if only they could, shoulda, woulda won some of those earlier 1 goal games but that's history now.
The Jackets are right back at it tomorrow night of a New Year's Eve game against the Edmonton Oilers. Don't forget fans the RBar will be throwing a special post game New Year's Eve event so come out and support the best hockey bar in the area!
Saturday, December 29, 2007
TSN.ca - Down to 11 from 9
A name that was tied to Jaromir Jagr's past -- Kris Beech (who was one of three prospects traded from Washington to Pittsburgh for Jagr in 2001) -- has been Columbus' leading scorer this month with seven points in seven games.
CBSSports.com - down to 27 from 24
Columbus still harbors thoughts of playoff contention, but the growing sense around the league is that they're biggest success this season could come around the trade deadline by moving veterans like Fedorov, Peca and Foote.
FoxSports.com - down to 25 from 18
(.514) The Blue Jackets need to come back from the holiday break with a better power play plan. Columbus lost two of three in Week 12, going a combined 0-for-10 with the extra attacker in the two losses against the Flames and Predators. As a matter of fact, the Jackets went into the break 2-for-28 on the power play in their last six games, including five straight games without scoring a man-up goal.
Yahoo.com - down to 25 from 21
More help for Rick Nash and a playoff appearance. They're the last team that hasn't earned one.
CBC.ca - down to 20 from 16
Haven't had a winning record this late ever.
CNNSI.com - down to 26 from 22
There's no way around it: the Jackets are struggling. The offense is foundering -- only two teams have scored fewer goals -- and the power play has been in hibernation for much of December (0-for-19 in last five games; 4-for-42 for the month). The PK hasn't been much better, allowing at least one goal in four straight games.
ColumbusDispatch.com - awaiting release
ESPN.com - awaiting release
Average score 22.3 (last week 19.375)
Jackets tumble this week. The only rankings keeping this thing respectable are the TSN rankings. Once again CBSSports.com has us the lowest at 27.
Labels: Power rankings
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Night all.. I have to blow off some steam after this crapfeast..
How can you call everything....and I mean everything little tick tacky thing through the first two periods and then call absolutely nothing in the 3rd...? How are these players supposed to play... NHL should be ashamed of this debacle....
Russell completely upended and flippped -- no call... god damn joke... these refs should be shitcanned right after this game...
You've got to be sh***** me... Nashville scores with 1:45 left... why can't the Jackets beat this team.. *slams head onto keyboard*
OH BOLL!!! so so close... dude has been a difference maker out there even without a point..
Russell with no stick... Jackets hemmed in.. Tootoo scores.... of course Boll taken down just before that and no penalty... apparently the refs swallowed their whistles during the second intermission..
OH YEAH BABY!!! Z firing biscuits all night... Novotny collects the rebound.. another dirty goal and I love it!!! Jackets up 3-2 with just over 5 to go... keep pouring it on boys..
Beech is gonna be seeing that chance in his sleep... man.. could have and should have buried that one... Mason came up big there for the Preds..
Boll with another great chance... Norrena with another solid save... 6 minutes to go.. .lets hope its not a repeat of the last Nashville game with them scoring late... how bout a reversal of that!
Great D there by Hainsey.. he's having a pretty good night.. other than not getting shots through.. good chance there for Glenx.. Mason with a good save...
Friggan Boll.. awesome.. guy doesn't stop and actually had a really good chance he created there for himself...
Jackets need to crank it up a notch.. .Preds got em hemmed in pretty good..
Feds with a horrible turnover there.. wake up 91.. Norrena saves his skin..
Apparently Tootoo has a free pass tonight to do whatever in the hell he pleases... nice to see the Jackets respond... Z and Novonty both with solid hits...
They just showed the replay of the hit on Hejda... how in the absolute hell is that not a penalty... incredible... the refs should just strap on clown outfits and join and circus...
Slash on Novotny uncalled... joke.. .these refs are friggan joke tonight.. what was a call in the first no longer is one now..
What the f***? Tootoo with an blindsided hit on Hejda...no puck any where close to him... re-god-damn-diculous..
Also..forgot to note.. Vybes got credited with what was thought was a Hainsey goal.. cool of Hainsey to say that went off him... he'll still collect his second assist..
Oh..Jackets got away with one there.. Preds found themselves with a brief 3 on 1.. but couldn't make anything out of it.. Preds of old would burn us on those chances..
I've really been impressed with Novotny the past few games... just wanted to put that out there... now back to the game..
Here we go... 20 minute game now.
**START OF THIRD**
Need the same kind of effort in the third...and with the way the refs are calling this game this thing could very well be decided on a PP.. so Jackets need to stay out of the box.
Jackets get two PP goals of all things in that period... nothing fancy but they all count. They are now outshooting the Preds 22 to 19.
**END OF SECOND**
Preds clock timers let a few seconds roll off... they got caught with their hand in the cookie jar though..
Great backcheck there by Chimera.. using his speed to help out the D.. little plays like that add up to winning..
OHHHH....that baby just trickled in... like slow mo.. just after I got done ripping our d-men they score..... should rip them more often I guess.. ha..
Once again Hainsey gets another damn shot blocked ona 5 on 3.. the ineptness on our backend kills our PP...
Another golden opportunity for the Jackets... a 5 on 3 for a minute... could be the game right here... hence why Hitch called a TO...
Boll draws a penalty... this time no dive call on Boll.. seriously, that was maybe the worst call I have seen all season... what in the hell was that ref thinkin calling him for a dive... joke.
Tide had turned after that Preds goal in their favor... Jackets did get a good shot from Klesla there in the slot...
What's wrong Tootoo.. scard Foote is gonna make you a permanent edition of the boards... dude totally pussed out when he saw Foote comin..
Heh.. Rimer said "tinkeled pink"... Doug MacLean would be proud..
First sustained pressure the Preds had all period and they score off a tip... I just felt that one coming... shot beat Norrena 5 hole.. not a good goal to give up... that one hurts.
Another great chance.. Beech had a step but the follow up by Fritsche was the best chance... like seeing these boys go to the net and get after those dirty rebound goals.. like that say... they don't ask how you scored just how many..
Man.. great chance there for Z.. Russell jumping up in the play making a smart decision... much better period thus far..
Boll getting some PP time.. man I love this guys' motor.. working just as hard out there with the man advantage.... and he draws a penalty... and he gives Boll and diving penalty.. are you friggan kidding me? Guys like Boll DO NOT DIVE STRIPES!.... terrible horrendous call...
Camera man drunk again... Jackets draw another penalty... back on the PP... came real close putting up goal 2 there on that last shift...
ITS A GOAL!!! Yehaaaw...not lets get another boys...good energy thus far early in the second.. and its a PP goal of all things..
Jackets could certainly use this break... *crosses fingers...and toes*
Beech scores but under review for possible kicking motion. I've seen that exact same play count...of course it was the Red Wings who got the favorable call... who knows with these refs or what the "experts" in the Toronto war room feel like tonight...
**START OF SECOND**
Jackets outshot 13 to 7 off the strength of 6 PP for the Preds.
**END OF FIRST**
Jackets kill off double minor... they are damn lucky to be down only one... after such a good game yesterday in the penalty department this team just fell apart in the first... thankfully Nashville has a pretty terrible PP..
Jackets back on the PK again... dumb penalty by Chimera... in fact its for 4 minutes.. .this is rediculous..
Jackets PP fails them again... they can't convert with the 5 on 3 advantage..
Friggan Hainsey.. got to get that shot through...cannot get shots blocked when only 3 defenders..
Jackets finally draw a penalty... Z with some nice work single handidly killin the remaining time on the Preds PP... Lets see if the Jackets PP can get anything going... OH Feds does something good.. Jackets now get a 5 on 3 for a 1:40+... got to match the Pred's goal..
Another friggan Jackets penalty.. 4th straight... Beech this time.. and the hole gets deeper..
CRAP!!! They score with only 7 seconds left... damn... dumb dump penalty by Shelley put the Jackets in that situation early...
Jackets catch huge break with Radulov missing the net... 40 seconds left in 5 on 3..
Oh great... Jackets down two men for two full minutes... this is how you lose games... Shelley with a dumb penalty there... we know the Jackets record when they don't score first... to bad we missed the penalty on Shelley...thx drunk cameraman..
I think the camera man in Nashville had one to many pre-game beers... dude can't keep up witht he play... nice shift by Chimera line..
Geeze...not sure what the coverage breakdown there was on Radulov... Preds really controlling this game early...
Jackets need this first goal here...back on their heels early in this one..
Norrena HUGE save early...Jacket kill penalty...
Hope Foote's hand is okay...he hit that helmet quite a bit... would like to see Boll go after Tootoo again later in this game..
That-a-boy Footer...gave Tootoo the business... egg-zactly the example the captain needs to set. Jackets need to kill this penalty.
**START FIRST PERIOD***
With Rick Nash out of the lineup for the first time this season, Pascal Leclaire got this 7th goose egg of the year last night as the Jackets played quite possibly their best 60 minutes of the season.
The Jackets held NHL leading goal scorer Illya Kovalchuk to just 2 shots and got goals of their own from Jared Boll and Dan Fritsche.
Lit it up
Anytime a goalie gets a shutout he did something right. Granted the Jackets played very well and held the Thrash to just 21 shots but Leclaire made the saves he should and then some. What interesting is that all of last year Leclaire played a total of 24 games -- through 36 games this season Leclaire has matched that playing in his 24th game last night. He now leads the league in shutouts.
Nik Zherdev. Although held scoreless Z played a fantastic game last night. He hit two posts, played over 22 minutes and with Nash out of the lineup he really stepped up his game and created a lot of offense for this squad. I'm amazed at where this guy's game has gone this year.
Team. About as complete a 60 minutes as we've seen this year. Nobody really played bad and with the big guy out of the lineup everyone seemed to take their game up a notch.
Jared Boll. Not only did this kid rightfully get his minutes uppped (he played just over 10 minutes) but he showed why he should play even more. He had a goal but more importantly he had multiple chances, drove the net hard and continued to play his rough style of play. He also had a fight against a seasoned guy in Boulton. Keep on playin this kid Hitch.
Dim the light
Only two goals. As good as the team was defensively they can't keep living on this 2 goal effort expecting the Jackets goaltenders to blank them. They need more offense. One more goal a game and imagine where this team could be in the standings.
Powerplay. Finally a goal! Baby steps rights?!
PK was excellent as usual. Killed off both Atlanta PP chances.
..and how about only taking two penalties on the night? Jackets were very disciplined last night.
I think Jiri Novotny is playing some outstanding hockey. Nothing flashy but just makes the right plays at the right time. He and Zherdev mix well out there together.
Kris Russell is another guy who I'm loving out there. Anyone else catch that guy's speed when he backchecked and raced downMarian Hossa, one the game's premier forwards, and broke up a semi-breakaway?
Illya Kovalchuk. This guys is really dynamic isn't he? On one rush he was coming down the ice with such force I almost got out of my seat and started to back off! That guy is some kind of a talent and fun to watch -- unfotunately we don't see those teams enough.
Pretty good attendance last night -- just under 16k. Keep on comin out Jacket fans!
Not much to complain about other than just not scoring enough goals. Need more from guys like Fedorov, Vyborny and Chimera. Gilbert Brule was also his usual invisible self -- need to send this kid down.
NOTE TO ARENA -- if your going to have "free food" night please open all of the concession stands. The lines last night were rediculous and to not have all the stands open was..well, ignorant.
3 bright lights on the night
1. Pascal Leclaire - league leading 7th NHL shutout
2. Team effort - best 60 minutes I've seen this team play in a loooong time
3. Zherdev - didn't get a point but was the best player on the ice last night; honorable mention to Jared Boll who had a goal and a fight
Jackets improve to 16-14-6, still 3 points out of 8th in the West. They take on the Nashville Predators again tonight in Nashville. The Preds lost last night. The good news is that both teams will be playing the tail ends of a back to back. I keep saying the Jackets are due against this squad so I'll say it again, THE JACKETS ARE DUE!
I'll have a pre-game thoughts post up here in a bit!
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
I'm sure many of you have seen the entries in the Puck-racker's blog about NY Rangers scouts in Nationwide for the past few weeks. Where now Larry Brooks of the NY Post chimes in:
Indeed, with 20-year-old Marc Staal finally beginning to act his age, and with expensive veterans Marek Malik and Paul Mara recently reduced to roles as scratches, it is believed the Blueshirts' recent concentrated scouting of the Blue Jackets has been focused on putting together a deal to pry either veteran Adam Foote or top-four defenseman Rostislav Klesla out of Columbus.
The 36-year-old Foote, a physical presence the Rangers so obviously lack on the blue line, is on the final year of a three-year contract at $4.6M per that contains a no-trade clause he would have to waive in order to come to New York.
If willing, the two-time Cup-winner with Colorado will become one of the prime rentals on the market as the Feb. 26 deadline approaches. Hence, the Rangers' attempt for a pre-emptive strike.
Klesla, the multi-dimensional fourth-overall selection in the 2000 Entry Draft who will turn 26 in March, is under contract through the 2009-10 season at $1.6M per.
The Blue Jackets, who have scored four goals in their last four games, are believed primarily interested in Petr Prucha. The Rangers, who have approximately $2.25M of full season cap space which to work, would likely look to send either Mara ($3M) or Malik ($2.5M) to Columbus in an expanded deal that could include either left wing Jason Chimera or right wing David Vyborny. Obtaining Klesla would almost certainly require much more going the other way.
The 28-year-old, 6-foot-2, 215-pound Chimera, drafted by Sather's Oilers in 1997, has gone 17 straight games without scoring, so he'd obviously fit right in on Broadway. Earning $875,000, he's eligible for unrestricted free agency this summer.
Vyborny, who will turn 33 next month and is also an impending unrestricted free agent, was drafted by Sather's Oilers in 1993. The 5-10 Czech native, who has scored two goals in 28 matches, played the final two games before the Christmas break after spending three weeks on IR with a groin injury. He's earning $2.2M.
Regardless of whether they can create a match with Columbus, whose first-year GM Scott Howson was originally hired for a management position by Sather's Oilers in 1994, the Rangers have no long-term intention of carrying either Mara or Malik as their seventh defenseman.
There is something obviously in the works here between these two squads. Whether something materializes or not who knows. I will say that I don't see the Jackets interested in any of the players Brooks lists -- they are the cast offs:
Prucha - two goals in the past 30+ game. He's a slender build and really wouldn't be much different than keeping Vyborny. I mean, who is gonna get this guy the puck here if a Drury or Gomez can't there? The guy is also on the books for 1.6 mil this year and next.
Malik - a guy who has been benched by the Rangers, why would the Jackets want his guy back? This team has enough slow prodding defensemen. He makes 2.5 this year and is a UFA.
Mara - another guy who Brooks mentions has been benched. He's in the last year of his deal making 3 mil. He's got 6 points in 30 games and is a -2. Again, don't see the need as he'd be redundant on this roster but of the three he's the most interesting.
Instead I think if the Jackets were to deal a Klesla or a Vyborny they'd want younger players back with a higher upside. Guys who play a "Hitch style". That is guys who compete every shift and play a solid North American style. They could also desperately use a puck mover back on the d-line.
So looking at the Rangers roster I think you'd see more interest in guys like Dubinsky, Sanguinetti, Girardi and of course Staal (obviously). They aren't going to make a deal for Rangers' cast offs who probably can't help this team now and won't in the future.
I can see the Jackets dealing all of the guys Brooks listed especially Vyborny and Foote. To deal Klesla they would have to get some kind of young puck mover on the backend in return. To deal Chimera it would have to be a for a player they really covet in return.
You won't see big names like Drury, Gomez, Shanahan or Jagr coming back so any thoughts of that should be ended. Howson has a plan for the offseason and I don't think it involved committing to those contracts and/or players at this point in January. He'll want to see what guys like Brassard bring to this team and whose available at the deadline and into the offseason. He won't burn up all the payroll flexibility he gains by losing a Foote, Fedorov, Vyborny, Peca etc this early.
It does look like these two teams could make potential good trading partners. Both could use a shakeup and have complimentary assets. Guess we'll have to wail until after the roster freeze lifts tomorrow to see if indeed there is any fire here.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
I hope everyone is enjoying their Christmas today.
My wife hooked me up with a miniature replica 1873 Napoleon field gun - she obviously knows the quickest way to my heart! It will look great on my desk at work.
Both her and my daughter received new Jacket jerseys -- they have to look like their dad right?
I hope every other Jacket nut out there gave and/or received their special gift, hockey related or not, this Christmas!
Boys are right back at it tomorrow night against Atlanta. See ya all at the RBar for pregame!
Merry Christmas & Go Jackets!
Monday, December 24, 2007
Was just reading this breakdown of 19 of the 24 US teams in terms of ratings. Suprisingly the Jackets, when stacked up against the other US expansion teams have the 2nd best ratings behind the Wild coming in at 1.04%.
Labels: FSN Ohio
Frustration has set in in Jacketland. The coach and fans feel it the most... unfortunately, from the outside in, it only appears that a few of the players feel it. Guys like Norrena and Boll...you know they are feeling it...you know players like that are frustrated and are emotional....the rest of the gang...who in the hell knows anymore.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Day - a trucker hat the says "Thank you Jim Day"
Vyborny - last year's point totals
Labels: Christmas wish list
Saturday, December 22, 2007
The Columbus Blue Jackets managed to grind out two points against the LA Kings with help from the men in stripes and two game saving stops....one by Ron Hainsey and the other by Kris Russell.
For only the 3rd time this season the Jackets won a game after being scored on first.
Lit it up
Nik Zherdev. Guy was all over the place last night and picked up a goal and assist for his efforts. He bounced back really well after a light game against the Flames.
Jiri Novotny. Another guy I thought played a solid game. The goal was nice but I thought he was solid in all 3 zones and really had some nice chemistry with Z. He also played over 20 minutes and got key minutes in all situations including PP and PK time. A well rounded effort.
Hitch. He shook up the lines and it payed off as Z and Novonty were able to get something going offensively.
RBar Arena 3 on 3 tourney. It was going on during the game and was a great time. You can't underestimate what the RBar does for hockey in the community and when they sponsor a tournament like this its the very definition of "grass roots". We are lucky to have them.
Dim the light
Freddy Norrena. After a very shaky second half to the first period Freddy played strong. He stopped 34 of 35 shots....albeit with the help of his defensemen and a terrible call on Rob Blake call that went in our favor.
PK. Killed 6 of 7 penalties and once again bailed out this team who got into some serious penalty trouble.
14k+ in attendance. Better than usual.
Ron Hainsey. Thought he bounced back okay from his scratch. Created the Z goal and of course saved a goal.
How bad was the reffing last night...on both sides? Seven penalties against us...many of the "what the hell" variets.... A waved off Rob Blake goal that 99 out of 100 times counts in the NHL. Non calls..inconsistency.. I've said it before in this space and I'll say it again... I have no clue anymore what consitutes a penalty.
Nash pointless in 6 straight. This guy has to be hurting pretty badly. He takes quite a beating out there.
PP. Not many chances last night but the ones they did have came up empty.
Offense. Fedorov, Brule, Fritsche, Glencross, Beech.....did those guys even play last night? The Kings are the worst team in the league with the worst goals against and we barely scored 2 goals.
3 bright lights on the night
1. Nik Zherdev - 1g, 1a. He's almost doubled his point total from last year at this time.
2. Jiri Novotny - 1g with strong play in all 3 zone and situations
3. Freddy Norrena - stopped 34 of 35 shots
The Jackets were damn lucky to get out of that one with a 'W'. In fact they stole that two points but you know what, there were a lot of games this year where they outplayed the opposition and walked away with nothing to show for it so it was nice to see it happen to the Jackets for once.
Next up is Nashville tomorrow night. We've lost 10 straight against this team. We are due for a win and this team needs to put a win streak together to crawl back into this thing.
Friday, December 21, 2007
Thursday, December 20, 2007
There is still lots to talk about and play for this season, as the Jackets have never even been above .500 in December before but as the x-mas break approaches I thought I'd break out my crystal ball and look towards next year (there was a thread over on HFBoards.com that got me thinkin about this).
First off, this is the offseason for Howson to make his mark. Lots of money coming off the books. He and Hitch have had time to evaluate the current players and come trade deadline, the draft and most importantly July when unrestricted free agency starts should have a realy good idea of the players they need to go after to build their style of team -- one in which competes every night in every facet of the game.
So with that said, here are my predictions. Granted, its pretty hard to guage at this point with pending trades, players getting resigned, etc but I'll take a stab anyways.
This is a position we are obviously weak in.
Out: Fedorov (6.08 - UFA dealt before deadline), Peca (1.3 - UFA possibly dealt at deadline)
Money Saved: 7.38 mil
In: Langkow / Ribeiro (5 mil) or Richards (7.8 mil) for 1st line center (Richards would have to be traded for). Doug Weight or Chris Kelley (2 mil) as 3rd line center (this could also be looked at to fill via trade)
Money Spent: 8.65 mil (took avg of Langkow and Richards for now)
Langkow (pictured left) would be a good fit here and I think he'll be on the market due to Calgary already handing out huge contracts to Iginla, Kipper and Regher. They still need to sign Phaneuf and Hueselis and Conroy are UFAs after this season. Problem with Langkow is he's 31 now....how long of a contract do you give him? He'll get 5 year offers...do we want to give out something that long to a guy at the tail end of his prime? I'd go 4 years at 20 mil but no more than that.
If that didn't work I'd seriously look at dealing for Richards. His contract is too much but anyone you buy on the UFA market will be "too much". He's only 26 and is just now approaching his prime and has 3 years left on his deal. Heck we are paying Feds 6 mil for 30+ points a year, Richards has averaged 75+ his last 4 years. It cost a pertty penny to get a true #1 guy.
There is also a guy like Mike Ribeiro who may be out there. He'll be 27 and has put up the points. The problem with him is that I don't think he's a "Hitch-guy" -- not a very high competitive level. Dude has put up points though and when I've seen him with Dallas he's got great puck control and I think he could find a guy like Nash anywhere on the ice.
I think the team could also use an upgrade in the 3rd line position. A guy like Chris Kelly should be looked at. Also if the team wants more veteran experience perhaps Doug Weight? He could come real cheap.
Malhotra, Novonty and Brassard will most likely fill out the remaining center positions.
Out: Vyborny (2.2 mil - UFA dealt before deadline), Fritsche (750k - RFA used as trade), Chimera (1 mil - UFA try to resign), Glencross (522k - RFA resigned)
Money saved: 4.472 mil
In: Voracek (rookie 850k), Glencross (resigned 850k)
Money spent: 1.7 mil
I think its time to move on from Vyborny. This team just needs a bigger more competitive guys for the money and wing is not an area this team needs to invest in the most. Those areas are reserved for centers and defense. Fritsche is also traded at the deadline or in the offseason to bring back bigger needs. He's redundant on this roster and just isn't producing enough.
Jason Chimera is offered a contract but ultimately he wants to much money for what he's produced and the org is forced to let him walk. Again, the team is looking for production and must upgrade its skill positions and that is going to cost money.
Jakub Voracek makes the team out of camp and immediately upgrades both skill and the competitive level of the 3rd line. Finally Glencross is resigned after he showed quite a bit this year in his rookie year -- he'll compete for a top 6 scoring winger position or at a minimum play lower in the lineup on the 3rd or 4th line.
Freddy Modin, Rick Nash, Nikolai Zherdev, Jared Boll and either a cheap UFA or Crunchies like Gilbert Brule, Adam Pineault, Derek Dorsett, Joakim Lidstrom, Tommy Sestito or Alexandre Picard compete for that final roster spots on the wing. I wouldn't rule out Jody Shelley being resigned if the org wants to keep a seasoned enforcer handy. Shelley will need to take a reduced salary and role for this to occur.
Out: Adam Foote (4.6 mil - UFA allowed to walk), Ron Hainsey (900k - UFA allowed to walk), Duvie Westcott (1.85 mil - traded if possible), Jan Hejda (1 mil - resigned)
Money Saved: 8.35
In: Dan Boyle or Brian Campbell (6 mil), Jan Hejda (option picked up 1 mil), Depth UFA (1 to 1.5 mil), Methot (500k)
Money Spent: 9.0
Adam Foote may be resigned but I think he'll want more than the organization is willing to spend. His house is on the market if that gives you any hint as to what he's thinking. I think he's out but he's held onto for playoff push and allowed to walk after season. Ron Hainsey is another guy who will want more than he's worth and someone will give it to him on the open market, he's not traded because we need him for playoff push but he's allowed to walk after season. Duvie Westcott will be tricky, I think the org wants him out but with two years left on his deal at 1.85 mil he will either need traded, waived or bought out. I think they may have to buy him out but regardless I don't think there is any chance he'll be back.
Jan Hejda has a club option that I think will be a lock for them to pick up - he's played well and is cheap. Marc Methot will make the team next year as he's ready -- he was ready this year actually.
Now for the UFAs. I think the club goes after a big hitter this offseason. The three biggest names on the back end will probably be Dan Boyle (pictured right), Brian Campbell and Wade Redden. John Michael Liles will also be right below that group. I think the org grabs one of these and I'm banking on Boyle or Campbell as they need their firepower on the backend. They'll both cost in that 5 to 6 mil range. The Jackets will have to overpay like everyone else to get one. Boyle is 31 while Campbell is 29. I hope its Boyle but he's had a tough injury to his hand this season which has limited him to 4 games -- slight risk there but he could come cheaper because of it.
I could also see the Jackets signing another guy to bolster their backend. Maybe a guy like Mike Commodore or Keith Carney. They could also trade for someone in this category.
Klesla, Russell and Tollefsen are signed and round out this group.
Out: Leclaire RFA (1.4 mil)
Money saved: 1.4 mil
In: Leclaire (resigned 3 mil)
Money spent: 3 mil
Goaltending has been a strength of this organization this year. Both goalies have a save% above .900 and a GAA below 2.32. Can't ask for much more than that from your men between the pipes.
Some have mentioned trading Norrena for assets -- I see absolutely no reason to trade Norrena. He's got a great contract and is playing well. Goaltending for me is the least of our concerns. Give Mason a year in Syracuse and call him up for his cup of coffee if/when someone gets injured.
Leclaire is a RFA and will want a raise. I have him down for 3.0 but he may hold out for more depending on how the rest of his season goes.
Here is how our roster looks under my predictions next season:
Nash (6.5) UFA (Langkow/Ribeiro/trade 5 mil) Zherdev (3.25 mil)
Glencross (850k mil) Brassard (850k) Modin (3.5 mil)
Boll/Crunchie (500k) UFA (Kelley 2 mil) Voracek (850k)
Novotny (800k) Malhotra (1.5k) Boll/Crunchie (550k)
UFA (Boyle 6mil) Hejda (1mil)
Klesla (1.65) Russell (575k)
Tollefsen (750k) UFA (1.5)
Leclaire (3 mil)
Actual total player cost (not cap it): 42.575
*NOTE* Some players I listed both in the money out and money in categories -- that was to accurately represent the extra money we would be spending in raises to resign those players.
Mr. Mac would have to open his wallet a little more to make this roster work. We are right around that 40 mil mark this season and with the salary cap expected to rise to 55 mil the large markets will have even more flexibility to compete and suck up all the high end guys.
Battle in camp. Boll will be in there somewhere, so will Glencross most likely. Brassard and Voracek are gonna have to earn those spots in camp though - I want to make that clear - but because of their skill level and cost its gonna be tough to keep them out of the lineup. Guys like Brule, Lindstrom, Pineault, Picard, Dorsett, Sestito, Legein will be competing for the open winger positions.. I wouldn't be against bringing back Shelley if they wanted to keep a heavyweight either. He would need a paycut (league minimum) and willingness to accept an even lesser role that what he has now.
Some may ask why I have left Brule off. This team cannot afford to keep guys on its roster who aren't contributing on this score sheet. Brule is supposed to be a skilled guy who plays with an edge. I really have yet to see either. He's still AHL eligible so unless he wins a job in camp, he starts in Syracuse or is used as trade bait.
Keep in mind that our good buddy Doug MacLean backloaded a bunch of contracts. Nash gets will get a million more next year as he jumps from 5.5 to 6.5. Modin goes from 2.75 to 3.5. Klesla from 1.45 to 1.65. Z from 2.5 to 3.25. That's 2.7 in our budget just from back loaded contracts - that was more than Vyborny was making alone.
Bottom line for me is that Hitch and Howson are gonna want guys who have a high competitive level every single night. This current roster does not give us that. So they are gonna look to guys who never take a shift off and are always competing. At the skill level positions like 1st line center and d-man its gonna cost to get that and I think John McConnell will open up the wallet to go get a couple of these guys and put us over the hump.
Also the trade deadline is going to tell us an awfull lot about where this team is heading in terms of player/personel. I think a lot of fat is gonna be trimmed at that point.
In the draft I take all the pics from players I dealt at the deadline and either 1. trade up and grab the highest rated d-men left on the board or 2. package them for a player that can fill an immediate need. In a market like ours though I'm very relunctant to deal a #1 pick as its the cheapest way to fill a roster whole with a quality player -- must keep pipepline stocked with quality talent.
If we had multiple first round picks, I'd certainly consider trading one of those assets.
For the rest of the pics I draft as many defensemen as possible if their draft position warrants it. Would also be nice to grab another goalie, IMO we should draft at least one goalie every year.
Some good news Jacket fans as both Peca and Vyborny are expected to be back in the lineup. Both players were said to look good.
I just hope we get the Vyborny of the last two seasons and not this year's version which has struggled in just about every facet of the game.
Puck-rakers had the lines as follows:
Nash -- Fedorov -- Chimera
Zherdev -- Novotny -- Vyborny
Glencross -- Peca -- Boll/Fritsche
Shelley -- Beech -- Brule
It was thought Hitch was really going to shake up the lines. That doesn't appear the case.
I thought Jared Boll would be a lock to play along side Nash, as did Portzline according to his blog, but it looks like Hitch is going with Jason Chimera, at least initially. I personally would have liked to have seen Boll there as he's got just as good of hands as Chimera, only has two less goals in a whole lot less time played and quite frankly I think his engine runs a lot higher than #25 and would create a lot more room out there for Nash.
In short, I disagree here with Hitch's decision to put Chimera on that line.
We'll have to wait until tomorrow to see how these lines play out. Chimera will probably go out there and score a hatty and really serve me some crow!
TSN.ca - down to 11 from 9
A name that was tied to Jaromir Jagr's past -- Kris Beech (who was one of three prospects traded from Washington to Pittsburgh for Jagr in 2001) -- has been Columbus' leading scorer this month with seven points in seven games.
CBSSports.com - down to 24 from 23
Rick Nash has been trying to play through a groin injury, but he's scoreless and has only 10 shots in his last four games. Columbus has won only seven of 18 games since the end of October.
CBC.ca - down to 20 from 16
Haven't had a winning record this late ever.
Yahoo.com - down to 21 from 20
Tremendous goaltending – the product of sticking to a defensive system – was taking a lot of attention away from other areas early, but now it's apparent just how much this team depends on Rick Nash and he's hurting a bit. Coach Ken Hitchcock has to be careful how much he pushes his young star forward.
CNNSI.com - down to 22 from 20
They not only haven't won consecutive games since Nov. 23 and 24, their 24th-ranked PP has gone just 2-for-17 in the past four games -- including 0-for-5 Saturday against the league's worst penalty-kill unit. "Each game we have to be hungry, hungry, hungry," Fredrik Norrena told the Columbus Dispatch.
FoxSports.com - stays at 18
(.531) Columbus lost two of three last week, but managed to pick up three of a possible six points to keep hold of the No. 18 position in the rankings. The Blue Jackets come into Week 12 only 4-4-2 in their last 10 games.
ColumbusDispatch.com - ranked 17th
Burning questions: Will this team ever learn it needs to play hard every night? Or is it just not capable of maintaining that level?
ESPN.com - down to 22 from 20
Thanks to a lowly power play of late -- the Jackets are 5-for-50 since Nov. 23 -- the fans are starting to boo at Nationwide Arena.
Average score 19.375 (last week 19.14)
No surprise here. The Jackets have an average week and the slip shows in the overall rankings. Once again Weiss from CBSSports.com has us ranked the lowest 24 with TSN.ca the highest at 11.
So far the Jackets are 0-1-0 this week. They take on the worst team in the NHL Friday night at Nationwide in the LA Kings but we all know how they respond to team's below them in the standings.
Labels: Power rankings
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Labels: NHL Network
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Jackets downed 3-1. Flames win their 6th straight on the road. Jackets drop their 2nd straight. Overall record for December now sits at 3-3-2...not nearly good enough.
The rookies Kris Russell and Jared Boll the only two standouts for me tonight for the Jackets..
Game over.. Jackets giving up.. Flames controlling play... credit to the Flames.. they outplayed us..shots on goal don't mean squat in this one like hte Boston game... they scored on the chances given to them..
Nothing again.. 0 for 6... couldn't even get set up... not shots from point.. I know, I sound like a broken record.. these players no what they should be doing.. they just can't execute.. lack of skill getting exposed..
Jackets back on PP.. they should decline.. playing much better even strength....and Z turns it over..
Will say this....the Jackets are finally goin hard to the net... just keep playin Boll.. that kid will go hard to the net every shift.. .keep him out there with Nash.. I like that pairing... may open up some room for him..
Man.. this PP is un-watchable... they can't get anything going.. I mean nothing...
Awesome save by Kipper on Klesla... same ole story.. nice pass by Nasher..
Well at least its not just us with the bad calls... I thought that call on Tanguay was BS as well.. hard check in the boards... oh well..
Of course another penalty on the Jackets.. Boll skating his ass off out there.. finishing his check and they call him for a high stick... I'm glad Hitch is playing this kid though... he goes hard every single shift and I'll take penalties like that any day of the week if we could get that kind of effort out of everyone..
Jackets making Kipper look like an all star... they've turned it up a notch but with only 10 min left we've seen this script before..
Feds has been good on the faceoff circle so far.. goin 10 for 3.. bout the only thing he's done..
Jackets kill penalty....Flames not giving anything up... they are lockin the middle of the ice down with a padlock... and I don't think the Jackets have a key...
Westcott with penalty.. Calgary on 5th PP... I think the nail is pretty much all the way in the coffin but a score here will really drive it through..
Boll still playing a physical game out there... still tryint spark his troops.. hell just keep playin him..
Iginla line owns the Jackets again.. .they cannot stop that #1 line...
'nother bad PP.... Russell and Manny bumbling the pucks lookin like a couple of key stone cops out there..
**START THIRD PERIOD**
Got to feel a little bit for Leclaire...he's not having his best night but he (or Norrena most nights) gets no help from his offense.... if our goaltender isn't our absolute best player than we don't win most nights and quite frankly that just isn't going to get you into the playoffs....
I hate to sound to negative but there are only so many times Hitch can rip these guys between periods and tonight is not one of those nights -- he can't play that card again so soon -- so unfortunately if the Jackets want to rally they need to man up and motivate themselves. I'm not optimistic about our chances to come back in this game. Not 2 goals down...not in the 3rd period....not against a team that is playing as well as the Flames. Jackets blew this one early with some help from the men in stripes.
Jackets still outshooting Flames 25-17 but outscored 2-1 in that period.
**END SECOND PERIOD**
Fans booing....don't blame them....PP is a royal mess.
Hitch goin with the Fritsche line on the PP....if that tells us anything... coaching staff is just as frustrated as the fans with this special team..
Novotny draws one there.. fans jeer the refs... PP gets another chance... excuse me while don't get to excited about our pitiful powerplay..
Nash thrown around again... no calls... again I go back to Foote doin the same but getting called which resulted in a 5 on 3 call... all I ask is for some friggan consistancy from the stripes...
Iginla line just owned the Jackets again... lucky to get out of that one without a goal against..
Fedorov done anything tonight outside of maybe one decent rush in the first?
PK with the kill.. Jackets really need another to climb back in this one before the period ends..
See Jackets... that how you gets shots through from the point with traffic in front... sadly I just don't think we have the horse on the backend to move the puck and get those shots off...
Another penalty on the CBJ after some sustained pressure... Nash goin to the box...again.... what's goin on with this guy?
Calgary has scored 3 goals off of 13 shots... one of which, Leclaire should have had..
Iginla scores... what typically happens when a good chance is missed at one end.. other team comes down and scores.... Leclaire no chance on that one.. ugghhh... that one really hurt..
Novotny with a breakaway...and great stop by Kipper... what's with the Jackets...they can't ever seem to convert on breakaways..
UNREAL.... no penalty there on 61? After all this wishy washy hooking calls...Nash gets hog tied and nada.... who friggan knows any more with these so called NHL refs...
No way I thought it woudl happen... but Glencross scores off a fabulous....and I mean FABULOUS play by Kris Russell.... kid is really turning it on tonight..that was a puck moving defensemen's play....showed all his skills there..including vision...skating..passing and he took a hit to make a play..
Jackets are a complete wreck out there now.. running around... somehow the draw a penalty... PP's turn to struggle... whelp.. so much for that.. Novotny gets called.. .more 4 v 4..
Tanguay scores... Leclaire lets in a softy 5 hole... that goal there could very well be this game the way the Jackets offense is struggling..
Russell just can't buy a goal... awesome chance there.. nice jump by Russell... kid just needs one and they'll start to fall for him.
Nice try there by the boys...they are going to the net now...game turning into a typical Calgary/Columbus game out there... let me state the obvious though... guys need to score a damn goal!
Lets see if the boys can pot any this period.
**START SECOND PERIOD**
Jackets outshoot Flames 11-7 but nothing to show for it. This game is quickly reminding me of the Boston game...other team scores early and that's the way it basically sits the entire game. Jackets need to find a way to score.
**END OF FIRST**
Columbus PP is just not pulling their weight.... once again come up empty..
How did Nash miss that one? ...and how is that a hooking penalty on Nash? At least they caught the hook on Beech...
Boll and Iginla... linesmen break up Boll and Iginla... now Tollefsen and Nystrom goin at center ice... didn't get to see that one thanks to FSN... what in the hell if with the refs grabbing Boll and letting Iginla throw? Crock of sh**.... let em both go... can't just hold one guy back.. maybe those fights spark this team.. good trade off though - Boll for Iginla.. take that any time..
Fritsche is trying tonight... best hit of the period...great shift by #49..
Tells you how this period has gone when Jody Shelley has teh best shot on net of the period....
Bad passes...shots blocked...offside...forced to permiter....no shots...can't get set up... same ole same ole for the Jackets PP...
Jackets draw a penalty... ole Jacket Anders Erikson gets the gate for holding the stick... lets see if the PP can go anything with it...
Bad feeling early that this offense isn't gonna score tonight.....let me be the first to say it tonight "SHUTOUT!".... there, I feel better...
I guess Foote can't x-check a guy in front of the net but it okay to ram Chimera's head throught he boards....
Nash really fighting it... a play there he usually gets something quality on net and he gets backchecked...that play wasn't happening earlier this year..
Penalties really killed any Jacket momentum...trying to find it now... not a bad shift by the Nash line but nothing real quality on net..
Jackets not winning any key faceoffs on this kill..which is well, killin em..
..and there it is...score by Aucoin...Iginla screened Leclaire.. Jackets dig hole early....
Jackets catch a bit of a break...faceoff outside the zone.. need this faceoff win.. kill some of this 2 man advanatage...no dice
Foote with a x-check...great.....Flames up 2 men for 1:35....can fox sports net reply any of the penalty calls? We need to win some faceoffs..
Call up MacKenzie with a PK for high sticking...which I didn't even see...? Here we go... big key is for the Jackets to score first... can't give up a goal here.
Nice move and shot there by Feds....good patience.. energy pretty good after two minutes..
Hockey in HD is such a beautiful thing!
Here we go. Usually the first 5 minutes gives you a good indication on how this team will perform all night. Also is huge if this team can get the first goal.
**START FIRST PERIOD**
Don't forget Jacket fans that this game is on in HD tonight!