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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Whose on the block

Figured today I'd take a look at who may or may not be dealt or re-signed this offseason.

I'll give you a name and percentage of how likely they are to be dealt. Keep in mind this isn't exactly what I'd personally do just my gut on what Howson and co. are thinking:

.001% - Rick Nash - I'll never say never but unless we are talking Crosby/Ovechkin here there is just no way the Jackets deal their newly named captain and franchise player.

1% - Pascal Leclaire - the least unlikely to be dealt after the Monster Nash. Goaltending
is way to critical and with the budget space Howson has to work with I think they'll find common ground. Now I will say don't rule out an offer sheet coming Pascal's way - Jackets would match it though.

2% - Steve Mason - Howson likes his big goaltenders and he also knows how important goaltending is to an organization. If he wouldn't part with Mason for Brad Richards then he certainly isn't going to move him for many other players out there.

4% - Jakub Voracek - With another year of development under his belt and Howson's value on building through the draft the only way Voracek is moved is if there is a big time young "now" player coming back the other way. Unfortuntaely teams don't typically part with those kinds of assets.

5% - Jared Boll - Its not that he is untouchable but I just don't see Howson considering moving this young spark plug from his lineup. He does the things nobondy else wants to do and teams love players like Boller and don't part with them easily.

5% - Fredrik Modin - Still a valued asset on this team and with 2 years left on his deal and a NTC (no trade clause) its unlikely Modin is moved. Hitch loves this guy for his size, scoring touch and veteran presence. The Jackets just need a healthy year from him next season - if he doesn't give them that then we'll certainly revisit this percentage.

6% - Derick Brassard - the only real legit center prospect in the Jackets system. Brassard had an injury set back early in the year and struggled a bit to adjust to the pro game but with that said he has absolutely lit the AHL on fire his past 15 to 20 games. Brassard was part of Howson's "untouchable" list during the Brad Richards discussions and I don't think he's been removed. Again Brassard falls in line with Howson's philosophy that winning teams are built through the draft - he is right there with Mason and Voracek but if one of the three had to go to make room for one of those young "now" players then my bet would be Brassard but again unlikely.

8% - Jason Chimera - with Howson inking him to a 3 year deal in season (with Murray he was only 1 of 2 UFAs he signed in season mind you) its clear he values Chimera on this roster and sees him as a core type player. Unless its a deal breaker Chimera will be a Blue Jacket for the foreseeable future.

8% - Andrew Murray - the surprise player from last year. Murray was a long shot to make the NHL as an 8th round pick from the 2002 draft. However Murray got his shot last year and made it count. He was like an old reliable Honda that Hitch could count on game in and game out. Howson rewarded him with a 3 year deal for his efforts. Like Chimera, I would only give him a 8% of getting moved and it would need to be a deal breaker.

12% - Kris Russell - the Jackets just don't have enough puck moving defensemen types in the system or on the big team which puts a premium on Russell's skill set. I would say overall the Jackets were a bit dissapointed in his first year as a pro but they are also realistic and realize besides the goaltender position, defensemen take the longest to develop. They won't give up on Russ after a year and still value him highly. What makes him more likely to be dealt, while still unlikely, was the play of Clay Wilson down the stretch and if the Jackets make a move for big time "now" player I can't see them keeping Russell if its a deal breaker.

12% - Rusty Klesla - Rusty seems to have found his niche in the NHL and that is as a shutdown defesnive defensemen. With the lack of depth as it is the Jacket can't afford to move Rusty, especially when he signed for 2 more years as a good price. So while unlikely that he moves, if the deal is right, he certainly isn't off limits.

13% - Stepan Legein - a 2nd round pick from last summer that I think the Jackets are very high on. Its Howson's first draft so he won't be dealing off those assets very easily, especially if they are showing strong development signs which Legein is. He was 2nd in OHL playoff scoring before his team got eliminated. He would be a wanted commodity by other teams though so again, I don't think he'd be a deal breaker but it would definitely have to be for the right "now" player.

15% - Tom Sestito - big young kid who isn't afraid to drop the gloves. He also came along way in development in his first year as a pro and had 7g, 16a in 66 games with the Crunch - he also had a whopping 202 PIMs. Some say he made Shelley expendable. Jackets look at him to add some much needed toughness with the potential for a scoring touch over the next few years.

18% - Ted Ruth, Will Weber, Nick Holden, Maxim Mayorov, Ben Wright - that group is pretty highly regarded by the Howson administration and although far from untouchable I just think its highly unlikely they'll be moved as Howson is working really hard to solidfy our prospect depth and there are other pieces he would prefer to move first but certainly if one piece were wanted they wouldn't be deal breakers.

19% - Derek Dorsett - similar to Sestito and Boll. He's one of those pest type players who can play and is very willing to drop the gloves. He's got 289 PIMs on the farm. He is the kind of player who goes hard every shift and just pisses off the opposition -- a team like Nashville and Tootoo would have his hands full with this guy -- he isn't going anywhere as we just don't have enough of them.

20% - Manny Malhotra - proved to be a valuable player, especially in the faceoff circle. The Jackets wouldn't be adverse to moving him and his 1.5 million dollar salary but chances are there woudln't be many teams intersted. For that reason alone I think there is only about a 20% he would be moved. Lets be honest here, Manny is a 4th line player on most teams in the NHL.

20% - Aaron Rome - definitely made a statement last year during his callup - so much that the Jackets did not want to risk losing him on waivers at the end of the year so they did not send him down to the minors once the Jackets season ended. The Jackets like this guy and my guess is they have him penciled in as a 6/7 guy next season if they can get him resigned to a reasonable contract. I think they'll get that done and we'll see Rome as a Jacket next season baring contract negotiation problems.

22% - Fredrick Norrena - he's resigned to being a backup and he's got 1 year left on his deal. No way does Howson want Mason backing up Leclaire as he needs prime development time down in Syracuse. Norrena likely is not going anywhere unless its some sort of unforseen deal breaker. The Jackets need a better year out of him though.

25% - Clay Wilson - kid proved that he can certainly contribute at the NHL level. He's an RFA and I just can't see the Jackets parting with him. He's a more mature version of Russell and I think he's passed him on the depth chart for now although Russ could come back strong in his 2nd year. He could be dealt for "now" guys but highly unlikely.

30% - Dan LaCosta - had quite the year with dressing in the ECHL/AHL/NHL as well as suffering through a leg injuriy due to a bus crash with Elmira. Through all that though LaCosta preseviered to turn in some pretty solid numbers in his game with Syracuse and Elmira. Mason will be the #1 for Syracuse but LaCosta should see his fair share of starts and with Leclaire's injury history could see some time on the big team next year as well. I think its very unlikely he's dealt but he not immovable for the right deal.

33% - Adam Pineault - really showed well during his cup of coffee. Kid has an NHL frame, can skate well and has a rocket of a slap shot. He racked up 21g, 27a in 74gp in the AHL but really cooled down the stretch. I think the Jackets really like this kid but not enough to keep him if he's wanted as part of a trade.

35% - Alexandre Picard - he's an RFA that I think the Jackets will definitely resign. He could be thrown in a package for a "now" player but I think there are other assets a team would want before Picard which makes him likely that he'll remain with the Crunch next year on a 2-way. The catch with Picard though is that once he's called up next year he'll be waiver eligible and may be claimed - if they can get something for him this summer may be the time.

40% - Jan Hejda - I think the Jackets want him back badly and I think he wants to stay. He finished a +20 which was good for top 15 in the league on the leagues 2nd worst scoring team. True he doesn't add much offense but he is solid defensively. Why I have him at only 40% to be back is will Howson pay what he wants? He could look at Hejda and say I can replace his defense cheaper on the open market and put that extra money in an offer for a couple of puck moving d-men. Hejda had a good year, some of that him and some of that Hitch's system, but his type of game is the easist to find on the open market thus you can't overpay.

45% - Marc Methot - solid stay at home defensemen who appears to have gotten passed on the depth chart by Aaron Rome and Clay Wilson. I think the Jackets definitely want to keep him for depth but it would not surprise me if Methot was included in a package for a "now" player. His future could also vastly depend on what the Jackets do at the draft and free agency in terms of defensive acquisitions.

50% - Jiri Novotny - a toss up I think. He's got 1 year left on his deal and after a great start to the year he really faded. He could be a throw in on a deal or the Jackets could just keep him for depth.

50% - Zenon Konopka - just not an NHL player as he doesn't have the foot speed but this guy is a leader and very valuable player on the farm and is a servicable callup. Problem is he's a UFA and he'll be looking for his best shot at a full time job at the big time. I give it a 50% shot he sticks around.

55% - Derek MacKenzie - similar to Konopka he will be looking to put himself in the best situation that leads to a full time NHL spot which could still be Syracuse. I don't see the Jackets offereing him a 1 way deal but I think they would be interested in keeping him on a 2-way for depth. I personally liked MacKenzie as a call up - guy works hard every shift and chipped in a couple of goals in 17 games.

60% - Gilbert Brule - I think there is a better than 50% chance Brule will be dealt this offseason for some "now" help. Brule played better down the stretch but just coulnd't find the back of the net. Alot of teams will view Brule as still having a big "upside" thus he has value on the market and my money is that he's part of a package to bring in a #1 center or d-man.

60% - Dan Fritsche - He's an RFA I expect the Jackets to resign but he's very tradeable. In fact he was also rumored to be a part of the deal for Richards. Here's the thing with Fritsche, he's definitely an NHL player but he's a bottom 6 guy, a grinder who can pot 10 to 15 a year and hit that 30 point mark. We have lots of those guys and if he can be packaged for top 6 scoring help or a top 2 d-man he absolutely will be. I also see him as a guy a lot of teams wouldn't mind adding to round out their forward group.

60% - OK Tollefsen - similar to Fritsche. He's got value but he isn't key to the Jackets moving forward. He was also rumored to be part of the Richards deal. Tollefsen is a hard nosed stay at home bottom pairing defensemen. He's got next to no offesnive skill and he's not good at transition. Still teams want the toughness he brings. WIth Aaron Rome stepping up that makes Tollefsen expendable in a package for a "now" player. I think there is a better than average chance he gets moved in the near future.

65% - Joakim Lindstrom - had a good year in the AHL (60p in 49gp) and scored 3, 4a in 26 NHL games. Lindstrom is a RFA. He is a very tough call. His speed at the NHL is his problem and he playes like a bigger Vyborny which doesn't fit well in Hitch style of team. No doubt he will want a 1-way deal but may have to settle for a 2-way. Like Picard he will be waiver eligible now so if called up the Jackets could lose him if they send him down. I see him as trade bait at this point but if unable to trade as part of package for "now" players he'll be retained on a 2-way for depth and for offense in Syracuse. I'd be shocked if he makes it through all of next season as a Jacket.

80% - Nik Zherdev - I think he's a goner. Yes, he had a good bounce back year but his play down the stretch sealed his fate with the Jackets. Z will have a productive career but I don't believe management views him as part of the long term future here and with his trade value being at its highest the summer, the Jackets having to address bigger needs down the middle and on defense as well as the multitude of wingers available this offseason via UFA and the fact he has to be signed after next season tells me he's major trade bait and the Jackets will find a deal they like and pull the trigger.

90% - Ron Hainsey - will get his big payday this offseason but it won't come from the Jackets. They won't spend 4 mil on a player they view as a 4/5 d-man who was played higher up the lineup in Columbus than he should have been based on neccesity.

92% - Michael Peca - I'm convinced this guy will not return as a Jacket next season. Peca was definitely servicable for a last minute add but the Jackets are thinkin bigger, younger with more production. Being the 3rd leading scorer on this team with 34 points isn't saying much.

99.9% - Duvie Westcott - no way he's back next season and I think its a damn near certainty he's bought out.

100% - David Vyborny - he mailed it in after he didn't get his contract extension. He lost a step and no longer fits into short or long terms plans of the team. Of course I wish Vybes (or my favorite nickname for him "Me-So-Vyborny") luck in his future endeavors. He wore the bug proudly.

100% - Dick Tarnstrom - looked good initially but really tailed off after his first 10 games. The Jackets will spend their money else where to shore up their d-line this offseason.

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Of course there are other assets out there like Andrei Plekhanov, Jake Hansen, Grant Clitsome and Nik Sucharski to name a few but I think that covers the major ones.

It will be intersting to look back at this list and see who is left standing come camp next year.

-LTL

1 comment:

Neil said...

Nice summary, Lamplighter. I think you got the percentages about right with two exceptions:

1. Nik at 80% may be high. I'd say it depends on WHO might be available to come to Columbus. If they can pick up an impact forward who complements Nik, get him.

2. Norrena v LaCosta. I think they could get some dough for Freddy, and LaCosta would make a good 2. Decent Goalies have inflated value.

JF