directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Jokinen, Richards, Marleau -- CBJ interested?

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Jokinen, Richards, Marleau -- CBJ interested?

Its no secret the Jackets have lacked a #1 center since.....well since existance.

With the trade deadline only 8 short days away the rumors are really starting to heat up. The three players that have really caught my attention as a Blue Jackets fan are Olli Jokinen of the Florida Panthers, Brad Richards of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Patrick Marleau of the San Jose Sharks.

Why do they interest me you may ask?

For one they are all bonified #1 centers. For two they are all under contract for at least two years or longer. For three they all have long been rumored to be on the trading block for various reasons. None of the three play in the Jackets division and in fact, two play in the East. Vary rarely do you see teams trade inter-division. Four, the Jackets can afford them. Five, the Jackets have the young assets to make a bid. Six, they are all in their prime under the age of 29.

Lets take an in depth look at each guy:

Olli Jokinen
Signed: 2 more years @ 5.25 & 5.5 million a piece
Age: 29
TSN Profile:
Assets Is a big presence up the middle and a good face-off man. Has above-average hands and the instincts of a natural goal-scorer. Can play the wing in a pinch.
Flaws Is a better scorer than playmaker, which makes him a little predictable over the long haul. Must continue to grow as a team leader.
Career potential First line center.
Skinny: Similar to the CBJ the Florida Panthers have missed the playoffs for 6 straight years. Oli Jokinen is the go-to guy on this team and thus he hasn't gotten them anywhere. The Panthers are said to be looking to move in a new direction and dealing Jokinen would be a huge part of that.
What they need: Without Jokinen they will have clear need for a #1 center so it wouldn't surprise me to see Jokinen swaped for antoher star NHLer. They'll either go that route or take a multiplayer swap that could fill a lot of needs however they got burned pretty bad on that route when they dealt Luongo.

Brad Richards
Signed: 3 more years @ 7.8 million a piece
Age: 27
TSN Profile:
Assets Has incredible imagination with the puck and excellent playmaking ability. Likes to shoot the puck often and displays two-way savvy.
Flaws Isn't big or physical, so he may wear down against bigger opposing centers. Will occasionally pass up a great scoring chance.
Career potential First line center.
Skinny: Said to be on the block as Tampa has way to much tied up in 3 players (Lecavalier, St. Louis, Richards). Tampa is non-playoff bound and its time for a shakeup. Richards appears to be the guy they want move but he does have a NTC (no trade clause).
What they need: Preferably a #1 starting goaltender but those are hard to come by. Other than that they'll want youth and lots of it as their prospect cupboard is bare. The team that can offer the most NHL ready youth will have the inside track here.

Partrick Marleau
Signed: 2 more years @ 6.3 million a piece
Age: 28
TSN Profile:
Assets Is blessed with great speed and can catch defenders off guard by blazing right by them. Has natural goal-scoring ability, good size for the center position and emerging leadership issues.
Flaws Still suffers through bouts of inconsistency from time to time. Needs to use his size even more to his advantage.
Career potential First line center.
Skinny: Marleau is having his worst year since his rookie year. Its been rumored that he and his coach, Ron Wilson, do not see eye to eye. His contract also has a no movement clause that kicks in this July. If the Sharks want to move him the time is quickly approaching.
What they need: The Sharks will make the playoffs so if they were to move Marleau they'd want rosters players in return to help in their quest for the cup. They especially need a puck moving defensemen.

From a Jackets perspective all of these guys are attractive. Could you imagine a Nash-Richards-Modin line? Or what about a Nash-Jokinen-Modin? Yeah, I'm salivating to.

Of course for the Jackets to be a player for any of these guys they must:

1. Be willing to take on salary
2. Be willing to part with blue chip youngsters

Here's what it may take:

Jokinen: Zherdev + Brule + 2nd or Zherdev + Brassard

Richards: Zherdev + Brule + Methot or Zherdev + Brule + Lindstrom + 2nd

Marleau: Foote + Fedorov or Hainsey + Fedorov and maybe a propsect or pick thrown in there

Again both Tampa and Florida will be on the outside looking in so they won't want rentals. The Sharks however want to win the whole thing so a Foote + Fedorov package could look pretty attractive but it would be a high price to pay if they are knocked out of it early.

I have Zherdev included here but I think he's a very attactive player now but one in which I'm not sold that the CBJ or sold on long term. Now may be the time to sell high and if he could return a #1 center or defensemen then that's where I start. No I'm not Z hating, but you have to give to get. Also remember he's got one year left on his deal and with the way salaries are rising, things could get hairy come contact negotiation time. Z's value may not be greater than it is right now.

I really don't see the Jackets giving up a 1st round pick for any of these guys -- not when it could be a lottery pick. Now once the Jackets draft position is decided and they evaluate their picks, maybe they move it in the offseason for a proven player - but for now, I can't see it.

Regardless if these three are truly on the block I have to think GM Howson is having some pretty juicy conversations about what it would take.

My priority wishlist: Jokinen, Richards then Marleau
Who the Jackets have the best chance at: Ricahrds, Marleau then Jokinen

Of course the Jackets could just stay out of the bidding, trade their vets at the deadline -- collect more assets and then buy pieces for just money this offseason. The chance you take there is will the players you target want to come to Columbus and for how much?

Stay tuned Jackets fans -- it could get real interesting around these parts.



Shaggy said...

Olie Jokinen-

Assets: Excellent with faceoffs, and can score goals.

Flaws: Will cut you so bad, you wish he no cut you so bad.

Anonymous said...

Good breakdown, as always, LTL.
I'd be happy with any of the three. It'll be interesting to see what, if anything, Howson does and how much it'll cost. Seems to be some real opportunities out there.