All-Blogs.net directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Defending champs knocked out..along with Devils, Wild and Preds...any targets?

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Monday, April 21, 2008

Defending champs knocked out..along with Devils, Wild and Preds...any targets?

Over the weekend 4 more teams got knocked out of the playoffs including last year's Stanley Cup Champs the Anaheim Ducks.

As I did with the Ottawa Senators lets take a quick look at each team that got eliminated and if there are any UFA or trade targets that may interest the Jackets.

Anaheim

Word around the camp fire is that Brian Burke is as good as gone to Toronto for their vacant GM position. The Ducks are certainly an interesting team. Scott Niedermeyer and Teamu Selanne are likely to retire for good this summer. Assuming S. Niedermeyer does retire they still have 43+ million tied up in contracts with a key RFA in Corey Perry to sign.

..and assuming Burke heads to the bright hockey lights of Toronto where does that leave the state of this team? Will the new GM want to shake things up? If Burke stays will he want to shake things up? Many people are already speculation that Chris Pronger could be trade bait.

So looking over their roster there are some intriguing players. Lets take a look:

Ryan Getzlaf - the Jackets would kill to have this young 22 year old center as would just about any NHL team. No way the Ducks let this guy walk though, he is way to important plus he just signed a 5 year extension.

Corey Perry - a 20 year old winger who as mentioned is a RFA. He could be targeted for offer sheets from various teams around the league but the Jackets won't touch him. Wing is the one area where they have decent depth and they won't sacrafice the assets when there are bigger needs to fill.

Chris Pronger - a 32 year old tower of power on the blueline. There is a chance he may become available but unlikely. He's signed for 2 more years at 6.25 million and he would be a tremendous addition - exactly the kind of impact player that would rejuvinate the fan base and fill a MAJOR need. You would have to think if he were to come available Howson would seriously look into the price of what it would take to land him. The problem is would Pronger want to be a Jacket? He doesn't have a choice as he doesn't have a NTC but still you don't want to acquire a disgruntled player who would just go through the motions -- we've seen that episode before (Foote, Feds).

Mathieu Schneider - a 38 year old puck moving defensemen. He's got one year left on his deal at 5.75 and he may a scape goat for the 1st round loss. Schneider could help the Jackets although I think Howson will look for a longer term solution on the blueline. Still if he could be had cheap as a salary dump if wouldn't shock me if the Jackets make a move.

Minnesota

Things could get real interesting in Minny this year. Some signs point to Jaques Lemaire wearing out his welcome as head coach and their GM, Doug Risenbrough perhaps heading to greener pastures in Vancouver as their GM. They have some keys UFAs in Brian Rolston and Pavel Dmitra and they have to make a decision on if their superstar, Marian Gabrik, is in their long terms plans as he's only got 1 year left on his deal.

Brian Rolston - a 34 winger who will be a UFA this summer. Rolston continues to be a solid contributor putting up 50+ points in 6 of his last 7 years while playing 77+ games every one of those years. He has a rocket from the point on the PP and plays a solid north/south game. He will have a lot of interested parties this summer if he doesn't resign with the Wild. I could certainly see the Jackets interested in his services if the price is somewhat reasonable as they need at least one top 6 winger and he could really help an ailing powerplay.

Pavol Dmitra - a 32 year old winger/center who is not expected back in Minny next year. Dmitra has put up 50+ points in his last 7 years but has battled injuries on and off over that stretch. Again I could see the Jackets having an interest *if* Dmitra's game fits a Hitch style. After playing for Lemaire the past couple of years he may be looking for a more wide open style so I doubt he finds a home here but money talks.

Marion Gabrik - a 25 year old game breaking winger. Remember the Jackets lost the coin flip on the 2000 draft so the Wild got Gaborik while we got Klesla. He had a bad playoffs and word is that he's tired of a defense first system and wants to more open style of play. He's got 1 year left on his deal at 7.5 million so if the Wild want to move him and really shake things up this summer could be their best opportunity to do so. Regardless I don't see Howson pursuing him as we have our franchise winger in Nash with Voracek on the way. Howson isn't MacLean and will plug the holes needed in center and defense before exploring the wings.

Pierre-Marc Bouchard - a 23 year old small but quick and crafty center. If there is one player on the Wild I think would fit the Jackets needs the most this is the guy. Bouchard is a RFA and if he wants too much money he could fall out of favor. He is another guy rumored to not have the best relationship with his head coach. I have a very hard time seeing the Wild parting with this player but if they try to move him I'd have to think Howson would make a serious play for him. He's look great next to Nash.

Nashville Predators

I won't spend a lot of time on this team because they are a division opponent and rarely do teams within a division make trades with one another. I actually don't see Nashville doing many subtractions this summer as they were forced to do that last summer with their ownership troubles -- Forsberg, Kariya, Timomen, Vokoon, Hartnell all gone. Yet they still made the playoffs and now with their ownership problems settled they are in good shape to make a splash in the UFA market although they have some key RFAs they need resign in Martin Erat, Ryan Suter, Shea Weber and Kevin Klein to lock down.

Looking at their UFA list I really don't see any players of interest to the Jackets.

The Preds also are in good shape for this year's draft as they have two picks likely to be in the top 17. So don't look for them to get any worse anytime soon - unfortunately.

New Jersey Devils

This is a team that again burnt out their starting goaltender in Martin Brodeur and paid for it in the playoffs. They also had a real hard time scoring goals - sound familiar?. In fact, reading some of the articles after, they - like many other teams I'm sure, will be after the same things we are -- a puck moving defensemen and a playmaking center.

I wouldn't rule out some trades from New Jersey though. They may be one of those teams that look to shake things up a bit. They have 38 million committed towards next year with only a couple of minor RFAs to get signed (Rod Pelley, David Clarkson). They also have quite a bit of UFAs scheduled to hit the market in Karel Rachunek, Sheldon Brookbank (who they claimed off waivers from us), Mike Mottau and Bryce Salvador. They'll have some flexibitly to add some pieces for sure.

Here are some names the Jackets may look into:

Partick Elias - He is signed for 5 more years. He had a down year only scoring 55 points in 74 games. The Jackets may look into him if he's on the block only if he can play center. He's listed as a left wing and if that is his primary position the Jackets pass unless they really strike out finding a center or d-man elsewhere to trade for.

Travis Zajac - a young 22 year old center who had 34 point in 82 games. I've read from a lot of Devils fans that he may be included in a package to bring back players higher in the lineup. I really like Zajac and if he were available I think the Howson may kick the tires a bit. He could be a good 2nd line center until Brassard is ready.

Sheldon Brookbank - its no secret the Jackets like this 26 year old d-man as they signed him last year. He's a UFA again and if the Jackets want more d depth then no reason they may not check into his services. The only problem here is that Brookbank will be lookin for a 1-way contract and I don't see the Jackets offering that.

****************************

The teams that get knocked out in the first round are always the most fun to follow as they are the most disappointed in their years and more likely to shake things up in the offseason. Of this latest four I'd say Minnesota has the most potentially attractive pieces to us if they chose not to sign some guys or put some on the trade block.

Puck-rakers has a great summary this morning on the budget situation and for those Jacket fans that thing ownership is going to sit on its wallet its a must read.

-LTL

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

pronger forced his way out of edmonton, I would imagine he would try to do the same thing here






BHG

Jo said...

I would think Suter would be a possible pickup, seeing as though he apparently doesn't have the best relationship going with Barry Trotz. (at least, so claims a friend of mine who's a Preds fan; he kept asking if we'd give them Zherdev in return; ha ha ha.)

Anonymous said...

Jo,

Where do I send the fax for the Suter for Zherdev deal :) You wouldn't have to ask me twice!

Unfortunately you just don't see many divisional trades in the NHL but good point on Suter, I wouldn't be surprised to see him moved.

-LTL