directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Crystal ball time v2.0

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Crystal ball time v2.0

Okay - crystal ball (v2) time again.

1. Zherdev + Brule traded for Jokinen
Draft day trade. With Martin returning as Panthers GM and with ownership saying they are okay with Jokinen being traded the Jackets make the move. Jokinen is more of a goal scorer than playmaker so he wouldn't fit like a glove next to Nash but with an average of 83 points scored over the past 3 seasons he would be a colosal upgrade over anything the Jackets have ever had up the middle. Jokinen can use the change of scenery. The Jackets have to give to get and Zherdev, who had a good season but ultimately isn't in the team's long term plans, goes the other way as well as enigma Gilbert Brule who has played better of late and could probably use a fresh start else where as well.

2. Colorado's 1st round pick + Tollefsen for Ryan Whitney
Draft day trade. The Jackets get their puck moving d-men they desperately covet. Whitney is the odd man out at Pittsburgh with Gonchar and Letang taking over primary offensive responsibilities and to make room for Malkin and perhaps Malone or Hossa being resigned. Whitney is signed for 4 more years at an average cap hit of 4 mil. The Pens are without a #1 pick so the key to the deal is Colorado's pick. Tollefesen is also included to add some toughness and depth to Pitt's blueline and with Rome's emergence he's expendable on the depth chart.

3. Fritsche, Lindstrom, 2nd round pick traded for Antoinne Vermette who is then signed to 4 year 12 mil
Ottawa doesn't want to pay what Vermette demands as an RFA so they deal him for some depth. The Jackets offer up a few proposals and Ottawa settles for a package of Fritsche, Lindstrom and a 2nd. The Jackets immediately lock Vermette down to a 4 year deal. Vermette is very versitile, he can play in any forward position so say if a Derick Brassard proves he's ready in camp then Vermette could slide to a wing while Brassard anchors the #2 hole.

4. John Michael Liles signed to a 6 year 30 mil
The Jackets wishlist was Brian Campbell but he was resigned by San Jose so they go to plan B which is John Michael Liles. They have some stiff competition, especially from the Blackhawks, but in the end they offer more money, more term and a NTC and snag their big fish for 5 year 25 million. He along with Whitney greatly improve the Jackets puck moving skills on the backend and almost certainly improve a dreadful poweplay.

5. Andrew Brunette signed to 2 year 6 mil
Brunette is a an older veteran (34) who is a top 6 left wing. He is 6'1" 212 pounds who hasn't missed a game in the past 5 seasons. He is as good a playmaker (which we need) as he is a goal scorer. He is just a good all around top 6 players. He has averaged 68 points over the past 3 years.

6. Leclaire resigned to 4 year 16 mil
No brainer here. No team can win without good goaltending. Leclaire is resigned to a 4 year 16 mil dollar deal. That gives Mason plenty of time to develop and solifies the most important position on the ice for the foreseeable future.

7. Jan Hejda signed to 4 year 10 mil
Howson locks up our best defensive defensemen with a 4 year deal that averages 2.5 mil per.

Nash (6.5) Jokinen (5.250) Modin (3.5)
Brunette (3) Vermette (3) Voracek (875k)
Chimera (1.875) Malhotra (1.5k) Murray (875k)
Boll (570k) Novotny (800k) Dorsett (570k)
Depth: Brassard/Pineault/Picard/Sestito/Legein

Whitney (3) Hejda (2.5)
Klesla (1.65) Liles (5)
Russell (575k) Rome (750k)
Depth: Methot/Wilson

Leclaire (4)
Norrena (900k)
Depth: Mason/LaCosta

Total salary: 46.69


This team puts the Jackets at budget with 46.69 mil committed towards next year and is a vast upgrade in skill. With only long term deals to Liles and Whitney there is plenty of budget space over the next few years to get Nash resigned and Jokinen when his deal expires in two years. If/when propsects emerge like Brassard and Voracek there is also flexibility built in to retain them.

Another plus is that in this scenario the Jackets retain their #6 overall selection and add a significant piece to their system.

Of course every lineup has weaknesses which this one is no different. Ideally I would start Voracek on the 3rd line but there just isn't enough money (i.e. budget)to go out and sign another top 6 wing so chances are someone will be playing higher up in the lineup than they should be which in this case I'm predicting Voracek. The good news is that instead of past years where it was 4 or 5 guys playing higher than they should, its just one. Also if Brassard shows he's capable of being the 2nd line center that would bump Voracek down a slot and the lineup could look like this:

Nash (6.5) Jokinen (5.250) Modin (3.5)
Brunette (3) Brassard (875k) Vermette (3)
Chimera (1.875) Malhotra (1.5k) Voracek (875k)
Boll (570k) Murray (875k) Dorsett (570k)
Extra: Novotny (800k)

Another weakness is that there isn't a lot of toughness in this lineup - especially on the backend which is why I think either one of Dorsett or Sestito will be in the lineup next season along with Boll. Both bring a large element of toughness to the lineup which, especially with Tollefsen being dealt, will be needed. My money is on Dorsett to make the team out of camp.

I would also prefer more of a playmaker with Nash but I just don't see many available options. Marleau and Jokinen are the two biggest potential trade targets and if I had to chose I go with Jokinen who competes harder, puts up more points and is cheaper. We can't afford to not address this area and lets face it, we aren't going to find the perfect guy - those just aren't available.

Anyhow...its another example of what Howson could do this summer. He and the media have metioned 4 to 5 moves and I think I have definitely met that criteria.

As teams get eliminated from the playoffs you'll start hearing more and more about other names. I'm already reading names like Joe Thornton and Chris Pronger as fans guage their worth on the trade market as their team's struggle in the first round of the playoffs. Some knee-jerk there of course but some of the names will be legit.

We know by the Brad Richards attempt that Howson isn't afraid to look at the big names if they become available but the quesiton is how much will he be willing to give up in a trade to acquire one.

I'll have other possible scenarios as we move towards the draft in June. At the end of the day alot of the trade proposals are unlikely but its fun to speculate.

If any of you have trade or UFA ideas I'd love to read em.

Crystal ball v1.0



Anonymous said...

Man I'd like to see Bassard and Voracek on that 3rd like. We need a strong 3rd line like the pens got right now. Plus did you see them two in training camp

Anonymous said...

All good suggestions. I'd be happy watching those guys go to battle, though I think Jokinen (if acquired) might ultimately be part of his own line, with a Vermette or Brassard winding up centering Nash.

I love the Brunette suggestion. Yeah, he's older, but CBJ could use a wing too (especially if Z gets moved) and Bruno isn't afraid of going to the net, which Hitchcock would love.

Anonymous said...

I really like these suggestions... not only in terms of skill level, but also in terms of character. Guys like Liles, Brunette, and Vermette aren't superstar status, but they all seem to be great dressing room guys.