directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: What is Howson waiting on?

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

What is Howson waiting on?

I was just reading this article from The Hockey News about RFAs like Ovechkin and Mike Richards who were locked up to long term deals prior to even becoming RFAs.

The article goes on to list a number of high profile RFAs that still have a year left on their deals like Evgeni Malkin, Paul Statsny, Anze Kopitar, Phil Kessel, Travis Zajac and a number of others that may get the same kind of long term treatment.

Welcome to the "new NHL" where no longer are the UFAs or guys past their primes getting the lion's share of the pie, with the lowered UFA age and the threat of RFA "poaching" its the young players with just a season or two of quality play who are collecting the big paydays.
Instead of GMs paying players off past performance they are now putting their money down banking on future performance.

What this article got me thinking about today is what about the RFAs that aren't signed yet this summer...and there are quite a few high profile names.

Better yet and little closer to home, what about Pascal Leclaire?

With the RFA poaching certain to ratchet up a notch this summer could Leclaire become a target? He certainly is the most intriguing goalie out there.

Which begs the question - what in the hell is Scott Howson waiting on? Lets get this kid locked up.

Look I know Leclaire has only proven himself for one season. I know about his injury history and his ability to stay durable. However, do you even take the chance of losing this kid - your franchise goaltender who is top 5 in every statistical goaltending category other than wins for a handful of draft picks that won't have any impact for multiple seasons?

I give that a big ole fat 'NO!'.

Goaltending is just way to important. Where would this team be without Leclaire this year? Think of Tampa without the offense - that, my fellow Jacket fans, is a scary thought.

So get on it Howson. I've know I've seen enough. I think Leclaire now knows what it takes to play in this league. I think he knows his body and how to prepare. I think he likes Columbus and I think he loves his goaltending coach Marlachuk. I also don't see him trying to gouge the organization with some ridiculous contract demand.

4 years 16 million- sounds about right to me. The Jackets still pay for potential as he's only been elite for one year but they are also buying some UFA years.

Both sides are also taking a bit of risk - Leclaire may leave some money on the table but gets some security and avoids what could become a bitter contract squabble and the Jackets are banking that Leclaire gets (need to work on that stick handling PL) even better and can stay injury free.

Steve Mason is easily two years away and by that time if we've got to studs on our hands - well, there is no better trading chip than a stud goaltender.

Remember great teams are built from the net up. Make no mistake about it, Leclaire is just important to this team on the ice (maybe not off it) as a Rick Nash.

Lock this guy up now Howson.


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