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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Howson makes move, resigns Hejda


GM Scott Howson has resigned 29 year old free agent to be defensemen Jan Hejda to a 3 year contract worth 6 million. His first major move of the offseason.

If you recall Howson signed Hejda as a UFA last year to a 1 year 1 mil dollar deal. It was widely accepted that this was Howson's best move of the summer.

In his first year as a Jacket (second year as a pro) Hejda put up some strong defensive numbers.

*Led the Blue Jackets in +/- with a +20 playing against the other teams top lines and powerplay units. That number was tied for 10th best amongst all NHL defensemen.

*Led the team in hits with 148

*Third in blocked shots with 90 (Klesla was first with 110, Hainsey 2nd with 91)

*Third in minutes played averaging 21:07 (Klesla first with 23:12)

*Missed only one game of 82

As Hejda worked through the season really the biggest question alot of people had, including myself, was if playing by Adam Foote made him a better? The best thing to happen to Hejda (and perhaps the Jackets) was when Foote was traded he actually seemed to play better. Any hesitations Howson may have had about signing him long term were most likely erased.

In fact after Foote was traded Hejda was a +11 in 18 games.
As far as the contract I think its more than fair for both sides. Hejda would have probably gotten in that 2.5 million range on the open market but as he stated earlier, he likes being a Jackets and was ready to settle down. My guess is Howson gave him an extra year to keep the price down.

From a Jackest perspective Howson would have likely had to pay more than 2 mil to get the same production on the open market for equal to or perhaps even longer term.

This deal gives Hejda some long term stability in Columbus and doubles what he made last season. He knows he has a prominent role on this team that will only increase as he continues to play in the NHL. Remember this guy has only played two years in this league. He'll never be an offensive guy but I think he's still got plenty of room to improve his defensive game and his transitional play.

For the Jackets it keeps Hitch's shutdown defensive pairing in Klesla and Hejda in tact. It keeps another productive veteran in the lineup that has bought into what Hitch is trying to do with this team. It also still allows Howson plenty of financial flexibility to go out this offseason and acquire some offensive puck movers on the blueline.

Make no mistake about it Jan Hejda would have been a hotley pursued unrestricted free agent. Howson did a good job here.

Its a win win.

As it stands now here is how our blueline is shaping up:

XXX XXX
Klesla Hejda
Russell Tollefsen
UFA: Hainsey
RFA: Rome, Wilson, Methot

My money is still on Hainsey walking as a free agent and Rome and Wilson certainly being resigned for depth.

I have also updated the budget on the right hand side of the screen.

-LTL

1 comment:

Tom said...

GREAT move. A decent length on the contract, and an amount that indicates respect while not stupidly overpaying.

We likey Scott Howson.