directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: 05/01/2008 - 06/01/2008

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Radio Alert

Aaron Portzline joined HFRadio on May 22nd and shared his thoughts on what Columbus will do with their 2 first round picks.

Also Mike Oke of I.S.S. Hockey talked about the defensemen available in the 2008 NHL Draft which of course is of interest to all of us.

Listen to the show here.

Top 10 forwards from Red Line

Good read here about the top 10 forwards from Redline:

The forward group has some marquee value this year with three of the top offensive talents among Red Line's top five spots overall. But there is a pretty steep drop off after that top tier, so teams who want to grab one of the premium forwards had better be prepared to make a bold move to trade up in the draft.

The top two forwards, and the top two talents overall, are Steven Stamkos and Nikita Filatov. Both are dynamic, explosive game breakers who put a lot of points on the board and make players around them better. Stamkos is on top of our chart, but the gap between the two is not as wide as some would have you believe. We give Stamkos the edge because of his tremendous character and history of producing at every level. Stamkos is just a natural born sniper – any time he steps on the ice it's automatically a scoring opportunity. Plus he sees the ice beautifully and really opens things up for his linemates by drawing so much checking attention.

Filatov is every bit the game breaker that Stamkos is and, unlike so many other Russians, there is very little uncertainty about his willingness and availability to come over to North America right away and begin the transition to an NHL career. His instant acceleration and phenomenal lateral agility makes him impossible to contain. And one of his best traits is that (also unlike many Russians) he brings his "A" game every shift. He really wants to impact the game and wants the puck on his stick at crunch time.

The third top level forward talent is Danish winger Mikkel Boedker, who just finished up a terrific Memorial Cup run with Kitchener in the OHL. Boedker possesses blazing speed and a rifle shot that he can snap off from odd angles and positions that keeps goalies and defensemen constantly guessing. His speed is tough to deal with on the rush and forces defenders to back off and give up the blue line. This was his first season in North America and he just keeps getting better as he gets more comfortable.

The top 10:

1 Steven Stamkos C 6-1/180 R 7-Feb-90 Sarnia 1

2 Nikita Filatov LW 6-0/172 R 25-May-90 CSKA 1

3 Mikkel Bdker RW 5-11/201 L 16-Dec-89 Kitchener 1

4 Kirill Petrov RW 6-3/218 L 13-Apr-90 Ak Bars Kazan 2

5 Cody Hodgson C 5-11/182 R 18-Feb-90 Brampton 1

6 Colin Wilson C 6-1/208 L 20-Oct-89 Boston Univ. 1

7 Mattias Tedenby RW 5-9/172 L 21-Feb-90 HV 71 1

8 Zach Boychuk C 5-9/185 L 4-Oct-89 Lethbridge 1

9 Kyle Beach LW 6-3/205 R 13-Jan-90 Everett 1

10 Josh Bailey C 6-0/192 L 2-Oct-89 Windsor 1

That top 10 is very interesting. I'm not surprised about the top 3 but having Petrov 4 is. I personally like Wilson a whole lot and Hodgson seems to be a can't miss type player as well.

Anyhow. Good read. Check it out here.

There is also another good story here that talks about the uncertainty throughout NHL teams about players 2 through 6. Oddly enough though there was no talk about Filatov in this article, just 5 d-men of Doughty, Bogosian, Peitrangelo, Schenn & Myers.

Anyone else besides me warming up to Filatov if he's there as 6?


Friday, May 30, 2008

No big surprise here..

..but Atlanta's GM has pretty much come out and said they will be going defensemen with the #3 pick:

“We have two picks, so we feel that with the third pick, we can get a player that can be inserted into the lineup right away and that’s important for our team,’’ Waddell told “That pick will most likely be a young defenseman, which will be vital for our franchise.’’

Some have thought maybe Atlanta would go Filatov #3 to keep their franchise player and fellow Russian Ilya Kovalchuk happy but that does not appear to be the case.

The top 3 is pretty much locked in like this:

1. Stamkos
2. Doughty/Bogosian
3. Dougthy/Bogosian

That will leave Pietrangelo/Schenn/Filatov for the next 3 positions with an outside chance of Boedker or Wilson slipping in there.

Waddell also has some other interesting things to say in this article:

“What we’re really looking for at the Combine are red flags,’’ he said. “We know these players very well on the ice and want to get to know them off the ice. They’re all well-schooled in what to say, so I usually try and keep it very loose. In fact, my first question to them is, ‘What’s your wife’s name?’ I’ll usually get some weird looks, but it’s just to put them at ease. Every team handles the Combine differently, but we try and talk openly and want the guys to be themselves.’’

Waddell will never forget one interview he did a few years ago.

“I asked him if he liked to watch hockey games and he said, ‘No, not really.’ I then asked him why and he said, ‘Well, I really don’t like hockey.’ Then he tried to correct himself by saying, ‘But I like it only when I’m playing.’ Those things really stick with you, so you try and ask normal questions so this way you can get an honest response.’’

I'd love to hear which player said that las part about no watching hockey? If he even plays anymore that is.

Sorry for all the draft posts lately but what else is there to talk about :)


Nikita Filatov vid

In case you haven't seen a video of this kid I figured I'd post one - he's #28:

His moves remind me a bit of Datsyuk - what do you all think?


Colin Wilson impressing at combine

Interesting note from's blog about the combine:

10:41 - We've got a new star at the combine - it's Colin Wilson of Boston University. He was ranked 10th in North America by CSB, but that might be going up because NHL types certainly took notice of him today. To put it bluntly, he is ripped. Before he even did anything, Wilson looked NHL-ready with a big, strong body. Then he got on the bench and blew everyone else away. Unofficially, previously mentioned strongman John Carlson did 16 reps on the bench press. Wilson did 21.

Most of the time, the GMs don't pay much attention to this stuff, they are mostly here for the interviews, but many were seen taking notice of Wilson's efforts.

Also a note on Filatov:

12:29 - All eyes were on Nikita Filatov when Group 4 came out, as he is the top-rated European and could be a top three pick in the draft. Strength was not his strength, but he did well in general.

There was one funny moment when Filatov was asked to do the balance drill, which involves standing for as long as possible on a board that sits on top of a ball. He wasn't sure what to do with the apparatus and, although he speaks good English, needed help from the translator. After several attempts at explaining what was required, Filatov just shrugged his shoulders, jumped up on the board and did fine.

There are literally dozens of people following Filatov. Just by coincidence, perhaps, there was one point during his testing when Filatov was almost eye-to-eye with Kings GM Dean Lombardi, who just happens to hold the second overall pick in the draft. It's not like Lombardi was paying more attention to Filatov than anyone else, but it was an interesting snapshot to see them facing each other in such close quarters.

Both Kyle Beach and Alex Petriangelo were unable to work out according to the article.

There is a bunch of more details, just go here to read them.

Everyone seemed to be impressed with a couple of yanks in Bogosian and Wilson. Bogosian was already projected to be a top 3 pick but Wilson could have seen his stock rise today. He was projected to be a top 10 pick but perhaps he jumped a couple of spots today on some boards.

There are a bunch of 1:1 interview over on as well you all may want to check out. Good stuff.

How many more days til this damn draft? C'mon already!!


Blue biscuits

Tragic news in the hockey world yesterday as 2005 #10 overall pick Luc Bourdon of the Vancouver Canucks died in a motorcycle accident. Bourdon was only 21 years old and made his NHL debut in the 2006-07 season playing 9 games before getting sent back to his junior team and then 27 last season splitting time with their AHL affiliate the Manitoba Moose.

My sincere condolences go out to his family and friends. RIP Luc.
You can read more on the story here.

Aaron Portzline reported in Puck-rakers that Columbus had the 4th highest ratings amongst US cities for game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals between Pittsburgh and Detroit:

1. Pittsburgh 33.1/47
2. Detroit 18.2/28
3. Buffalo 6.2/9
4. Columbus 4.1/7
5. Minneapolis 3.7/7

Now of course Columbus is sandwiched right in between those two cities and there are certainly plenty of Pens and Wings fans in this area.

That said those are still impressive numbers regardless as they are still hockey fans and you better believe we will have that many and many more watching when the Jackets finally make the playoffs.

Who says Columbus can't support hockey? This is a pretty damn good sign to me that they will, especially when its a winner.

The Winter Classic will be played in Chicago at Wrigley Field. Yep, its been announced. The Chicago Blackhawks will take on the Detroit Red Wings at Wrigley Field for the second Winter Classic.

Of course remember last year's Classic up in Buffalo was a rousing success for the NHL, especially in the ratings department.

The NHL has to be careful though, part of the charm of last year's event was it was something the US hadn't seen before. They must be cognisant to the fact that making this a yearly event could drain the appeal.

Still though, I'm excited for it. I like college football but give me a hockey alternative for a while on New Year's Day. I was glued to the tube for the Buffalo/Pit game last year.

Long time Toronto Captain Mats Sundin hinted yesterday to TSN that he may not return to the Maple Leafs next season:

"I do think that I have a lot of different options I can explore," Sundin said. "And I think I still remain (maintain) that I want to end my career as a Toronto Maple Leaf. Saying that, though, the way the situation is right now, I don't have everything in my control, either. There's got to be a mutual agreement there.

Sundin is a big center at 6'5" 231lbs who is 37 years old and he is an unrestricted free agent. I can hear what your saying already "we don't need another Fedorov"....but here me out for sec.

Sundin, playing for a team just slightly better than we were last year in the Leafs, scored 32g, 46a for 78p. He's averaged over 75 points his last 5 seasons and has played no less than 70 games per season in that span.

Instead of giving up assets and cash to get a center, all we would have to do is throw a wad of cash at him, say 6-7 mil over 2 to 3 years. Even at age 37 he would be a tremendous addition to our lineup...and he feels good:

"I felt very strong on the ice this year, and I felt I had as good of a year as I've had in my past 10 years maybe," said Sundin. "Maybe that would be an argument for me to play next year.

"But I don't know. I don't have a decision on that made yet."

Now say by the off chance he and Toronto part ways would Columbus really be on his radar? Unfortunately probably not but that shouldn't stop Howson and Hitch making a pitch. He's played with fellow Swedish countrymen Fredrick Modin so you better believe I have him making some calls.
Then of course there is Rick Nash. Would Sundin be interested in playing with him? I'm sure a phone call from Nash would be answered.

How does this line sound?

Nash - Sundin - Modin

..and I've already nicknamed it the "Smash" line (t-shirts are on order and copyright protection has already been submitted).

Okay I admit its a big dream as I just don't see him leaving Toronto and see this more of a negotiation tactic but hey its the off season, its time to dream!


Thursday, May 29, 2008

Columbus interested in Filatov?

I just read this translation of his blog over on HF:

"I've arrived at Toronto on May 26. My work has began on the next day. In general, I'm having interviews with NHL clubs. I have to say that all meetings are the same. They all ask whether I'm ready to play in the AHL in the next season, to come to America this fall, and whether I have a contract with russian club or not. I explain that I have no contract with CSKA and the rumor that I have contract up to 2011 has no ground. I speak in English with NHL representatives and had no problems with language whatsoever.

I liked our meetings with representatives of Columbus, Rangers and Florida. These interviews were informal with smiles, compared to other clubs were questions were as if it was an interrogation. By the way, representatives of Columbus has invited me to the ceremonial dinner. Does that mean that they've become favorites in drafting me? I don't know, I don't know..."

Here is the link.

I'm not sure what to think of this but my first thought is if the big 4 d-men of Doughty, Bogosian, Schenn & Petriangelo are off the board maybe they are indeed considering drafting the young Russian. He is rated the #2 prospect in just about every ranking and some say his skill level is on par with the #1 rated prospect Steven Stamkos.

Another thought is that it could be smoke screen to get teams ahead of them thinking they may be missing out on something which would allow one of the big 4 to slide to us.

Either way its a great read and he seems like a really great kid. His stock could certainly be rising even further if he indeed has no contract with CSKA and even more importantly is willing to play in the AHL.

Columbus also interviewed Jimmy Hayes today at 12:40 according to this article. He is the 63rd ranked prospect according to CSS.

No doubt Columbus interviewed all kinds of kids today but its fun to get a little more details on who and when.


Columbus Blue Jackets Offseason Analysis

Its getting close to crunch time (no pun intended to Syracuse) for Scott Howson and his Columbus Blue Jackets. The draft is just over 20 days away with Unrestricted Free Agency just over a month away.

With 7 losing non-playoff seasons, a dwindling season ticket base, over 20 million to spend and expendable assets to trade with most would say this is the biggest off season in this history of the franchise.

..and they will be absolutely correct. The time to win is an unequivocally now!

So what needs to happen this off season to build a playoff winner not only for now but for the future as well?

As M.C. Hammer would say, lets break it down.

As much as we want to win now the philosophy towards building a winner can't change. There are no quick fixes. The franchise needs excellent coaching, smart drafting/development and the core of the team must be built through the draft and supplemented with smart trades that help today and tomorrow. The gaps are then filled via Unrestricted Free Agents.

The coaching is there with Ken Hitchcock who is a Stanley Cup winning coach and has established an identity for this team. He has also let Rick Nash, Nik Zherdev and Pascal Leclaire to their best seasons by far as pros. At the same time he's really exposed the games of previous long standing Jackets as David Vyborny and Duvie Westcott. Given some talent, Hitch knows what it takes to bring home a winner and is a career coach.

The drafting has been an achilles heal of this franchise and is only just now beginning to find its way not only in terms of the first round talent but also in later rounds with the likes of OK Tollefsen, Andrew Murray, Kris Russell and Jared Boll making solid contributions to the big team. Mining NHL caliber talent in later rounds must continue to sustain long term success.

We know the roster as its currently formed is not a playoff team. Hitch took this group as far as it could go. Howson knows this as he's now had plenty of time to evaluate this group. Gone already are Vyborny, Shelley, Foote, Fedorov & Tarnstrom with others like Ron Hainsey to follow. All indications point towards expecting major personnel changes and around 7 to 8 new faces in the lineup next season.

Part of the core are there with Rick Nash being the centerpiece. Pascal Leclaire has shown the ability last year to be that franchise goatlender but needs re-signed. Rusty Klesla, while he won't live up to the potential that made him the 4th overall pick in 2000, has found his niche as a shutdown d-man who eats key minutes at a reasonable price. Jason Chimera has been locked down for the next four years and will provide leadership, size and 3rd line scoring for the foreseeable future.

These guys need help though and its Howson's job to get it for them.

Lets take a look at how he'll get there by first examining the draft, trades, free agency and then his own house.

The Jackets own 9 selections including two in the first round (6th & 19th) and one in the second (36th) in this draft.

As I mentioned earlier there are no short-cuts to building a consistent contender and to get there the draft plays a big big role.

I expect Howson to retain at least one of the 1st round picks and likely the second round pick (36th) for that very reason. A team in a market like Columbus who can't spend to the cap must keep its prospect pipeline stocked and flowing. Its the cheapest way to supplement your roster with quality talent and its the best way to build loyalty towards a franchise in a new market with next to no hockey history.

To get some of the key missing pieces for this team though I fully expect one of the firsts to be used as trade bait. As to which one it will all depend on the player(s) offered. This draft is strong, real strong, so those picks will hold a lot of value. Howson will not sacrifice or give away these picks for the sake of short term fix though.

As far as who may be the newest 1st round pick come draft day -- well here are a couple of names to keep an eye on:

6th - Luke Schenn, Nikita Filatov, Alex Pietrangelo, Tyler Myers, Colin Wilson, Mikkel Boedker, Cody Hodgson

19th - Colten Tuebert, Mattias Tenenby, Michael Del Zotto, Joe Colborne

Outside of maybe Filatov or Schenn, none of those names are expected to make the jump to the NHL next season.

We've been told by Scott Howson to prepare for a lot of press conferences this summer. To CBJ fans that is cannon fire to our ears.

Lets not kid ourselves though, Columbus is not the first city or team that comes to mind for Unrestricted Free Agents so until this team makes some noise in the win column they are going to have to look towards trades to fill their holes....or should I say GAPING holes.

Open vacancies:
1st line center
2nd line center
1st pairing d-man
2nd pairing d-man
Top 6 wing

Can Howson fill all of that in one off season? Doubtful but no reason he can't try. Out of those 5 positions there is no question that 1st line center and 1st pairing d-men are the most critical. Those will be Howson's priorities.

With more d-men and wings available this off season its likely that a center will have to be acquired via trade so that will be his primary target. A name like Patrick Marleau comes to mind.

I would say just about anything would be available (including the 6th & 19th) for the right player except Rick Nash, Pascal Leclaire, Steve Mason, Derrek Brassard & Jakub Voracek. Now if it was a top 10-15 player in this league then that list quickly dwindles down to just Rick Nash & Pascal Leclaire.

Its very unlikely the organization would move recently signed players Jan Hejda, Jason Chimera or Andrew Murray. Freddy Modin also has a NTC.

Looks for a big deal or two leading up to or at the draft table on June 20th.

Unrestricted Free Agency
The Jackets will be players this year - no doubt in my mind. The question is out of all the lines they throw in the pond, what kind of fish can they reel in?

The Jackets will push hard for a defensemen or two. If names like Campbell, Liles or Redden hit the market expect Howson to make huge offers. I could also see interest from him with names like Mara, Rozsival, Commodore & Orpik. It really depends on who is available and if he has acquired any via trade prior to July 1st.

Also look for Howson to make a heavy pitch for a UFA winger. Ryan Malone's name should be right at the top of that list along with guys like Stillman, Prospal, Brunette & Rolston. I also wouldn't rule out Huselius, Hagman or Fedotenko - not ideal guys for a Hitchcock system but could provide much needed supplemental scoring which Hitch would squeeze out of them one way or another.

Offer Sheets
Howson hasn't ruled out getting into the offer sheet business. I'm not a big fan but if he strikes out in trades and in free agency he may not have a choice and there are some potential juicy names out there including:

Jeff Carter, Patrick O'Sullivan, Pierre Marc-Bouchard, R.J. Umberger, Mike Green, Joe Pavelski, Correy Perry, Andrei Kostitsyn, Tim Gleason, Joni Pitkanen, Shea Weber & Ryan Suter.

All of those guys could help Columbus no doubt but would Howson be willing to pay what it takes to get one of them with draft picks? An offer sheet from say 4 to 5 million equates to two 1st round picks, a 2nd and 3rd. Anything above that is four 1st round picks.

The other way to fill roster spots of course is to promote from within. The two biggest names on the horizon are Derrek Brassard and Jakub Voracek. Brassard was given time to develop on the farm and he had very good year - especially down the stretch. Voracek is a guy the organization is very high on who, because of his age, is ineligible to play for Syracuse of the AHL next season so it will be either Columbus or back to Halifax of the QMJHL for him.

I expect both to be make the team but their roles won't be determined in camp. If there is one thing we've learned since Hitch and Howson arrived, its that a spot won't just be given to you.

Keep your eye on some other players as well including Tom Sestito and Derrek Dorsete. Both could pull a "Boll" and make the team out of camp with their physical and relentless style of play.

Take Care of Own House
Of course Howson has to take care of his own house as well. He's got a key RFA to sign of his own in goaltender Pascal Leclaire. That negotiation is no slam dunk and who is to say he won't receive an offer sheet?

He also has to decide what to do with RFAs like Fritsche, Methot, Lindstrom, Rome, Picard and Wilson. Then there are UFAs on the farm like Konopka, McKenzie and Smith.

Finally he needs to get Ken Hitchcock signed to an multi-year extension although I don't see that happening until after the organization proves to Hitch that they are committed to winning.


Its certainly a big off season. Look for major turnover, fresh faces and renewed optimism for this team in Columbus next year. Howson will use every tool at his disposal to get the players he seeks.

Now if only I could get my crystal ball working to make some predictions. Anyone got some AA's out there?


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

NHL combine under way!


The NHL combines have begun. Here is an interesting article I just read over on regarding the event:

According to McGuire, there's a three-pronged approach to the Combine.

"First, there are interviews," McGuire said. "Bring them in and allow (teams) to get a fair crack, 20-25-minute slots, where they interview these kids to get a little more insight into their personalities."

To go along with the interview is a psychological evaluation that tests, according to McGuire, "neuropsychological and behavioral phenomena.”

"Can you really tell who's going to be your best player in Game 7 by typing it into a computer?" asked McGuire. "Probably not, but it might help. We provide rudimentary data, and most teams' sport psychologist consultant can take this information and use it as starting at first base, rather than starting at square one and develop a psychological assessment of a player. It's not meant to be a secretive selection device; it's one more piece of a large mosaic."

Another piece of that mosaic is a routine medical evaluation, where the players are seen by independent doctors who then provide their data to teams.

"They write up any red flags," McGuire said. "The team scouts, if they see a red flag, will say to the agent or kid, does our team doctor have permission to contact your team doctor directly. Teams want to be wary of not drafting damaged goods."

Most prominent is the physical testing – something that, surprisingly, does not include an on-ice component.

The players are put through their paces in a three-hour crucible which includes events as simple as the sit and reach, push-ups and sit-ups, right through high-tech tests like a Wingate anaerobic measure and an aerobic-max VO2 bike test.

Also from another article today is "interview day":

“I would say if I had to put one ahead of the other, it’s the interviews,” said Edmonton Oilers General Manager Kevin Lowe. “You know what kind of player they are on the ice. We do some (psychological) testing of our own. We parcel that with the interviews.”

Top prospect Steven Stamkos has 12 interviews scheduled for his time at the Combine. Chicoutimi center Nicolas Deschamps has 26 scheduled – including 10 Tuesday, and another 11 Wednesday.

“I’m a little bit nervous, but most of the teams are asking the same questions,” said Swedish prospect Anton Gustafsson, who will meet with 15 teams. “What I think I’m good at, what I need to improve, how my future looks now. I’ve heard from guys at home that some teams will ask some (off-beat) questions to see how I react.”

But the winner – so to speak – is Ottawa defenseman Tyler Cuma, who has 29 interviews scheduled.

Obviously its not that all 30 teams wouldn't like a crack at Stamkos its just that realistically only one has a shot with some others perhaps weighing some trade offers to move up depending on how much they like kid. Truthfully I'm surprised there are 11 teams who are even bothering.

Cuma on the other hand is ranked right in the middle of everything and based on 29 teams wanting to talk to him it tells me that he could go just about anywhere from the top 10 of the of the draft to the first few picks of the 2nd.

My latest top 19 mock NHL draft:

1,Tampa Bay--(Steven Stamkos)--C

2,LA Kings--(Zach Bogosian)--D

3,Atlanta--(Drew Doughty)--D

4,St.Louis--(Luke Schenn)--D

5,NY Islanders--(Nikita Filatov)--LW

6,Columbus--(Alex Pieterangelo)--D

7,Toronto--(Mikael Bodker)--RW

8,Pheonix--(Tyler Myers)--D

9,Nashville--(Colin Wilson)--C

10,Vancouver--(Cody Hodgson)--C

11,Chicago--(Zach Boychuk)--LW

12,Anahiem--(Kyle Beach)--C

13,Buffalo--(Micheal Del Zoto)--D

14,Carolina--(Colby Robak)--D

15,Nashville--(Mattias Tedenby)--LW

16,Boston--(Josh Bailey)--C

17,Cagary--(Greg Nemisz)--RW

18,Ottawa--(Zach Dalpe)--C

19,Columbus--(Colten Teubert)--D

I have Columbus getting two d-men if they decided to hang onto their picks.

Central Scouting on Pietrangelo:
Strengths: "Alex is very poised out there on the ice. A tall player, who is still growing in to his body, Alex brings a keen ability to know when to pass the puck out of the zone, when to carry the puck out of the zone and he’s unflustered in the face of a hard forecheck."

Areas to improve: "Alex probably needs to get a little more assertive. There are times that he plays with that calm, cool and collective attitude and scouts might often question his assertiveness. But believe me that is there and he certainly doesn’t play with any kind of fear for what is coming at him."

Outlook: "He might have the best top-end (potential), and he might have the most under the cover that an 18-year-old could blossom into maybe the best player in the entire 2008 draft. He has (Chris) Pronger-like size and visibility attributes. A lot of scouts say that he might be playing better now than Pronger played when he was in his last year of junior."

Central Scouting on Tuebert:
"Colten is a smooth skating defenseman, who can skate the puck out of trouble and can jump up the ice with the puck. I like Colten for a lot of reasons, but most of all for his ability to take charge of the game. He projects as a support three or four defenseman, at least initially in the NHL, with a good offensive upside who won’t hurt you on defense."

Of course in no way/shape/form do I see Howson hanging on to both picks. In fact it wouldn't surprise me if he dealt both but it will take something pretty good for him to part with that 6th overall.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Minor move tells us some things

I guess my question about teams being able to make trades during the NHL playoffs got answered -- albeit by a very minor deal.

According to Puck-rakers the Jackets dealt 2006 7th round pick winger Matt Marquart to the Boston Bruins for 22 year old Jonathan Sigalet.

Here is the's profile on Marquart:

A mammoth of a player, Marquardt already has NHL size. He's a relentless and punishing hitter with the ability to change the momentum of the game with his checks. However he also possesses surprising soft hands and an accurate shot. As can be expected, his skating requires plenty of work, although with his work ethic that should not be a problem in a few years.

Here is profile on Sigalet (pictured left):

Has offensive potential and the ability to play an all-around game. Displays plenty of character on and off the ice.
Needs to fill out his 6-1 frame in order to maximize his potential. Must play with more consistency to become an NHL regular.
Career potential
Top six defenseman.

The Jackets had til June 1st to get Marquart signed or they risked losing him as he'd go back into the draft. Obviously those terms could not be reached so Howson dealt him for what he could get. Now its the Bruins problem to get him signed which obviously for them they think they can or they wouldn't have pulled the trigger.

For the Bruins they get a big young kid who has seen his stock do nothing but rise since the Jackets drafted him. He had 16 goals his draft year but his after that he notched 41g and then last year had 43 in the QMJHL.

The Jackets continue to add defensive depth. Sigalet is certainly still young at age 22 and is seen as a PP QB at the AHL level of which he's spent 3 years. He had 22 and 23 points over the past two seasons. He's got 1 NHL game under his belt.

To me this deal is more of a swap of depth. The Jackets have depth at forward and the B's have depth at defense and with the June 1st signing deadline as a motivator assets were moved. Or they were synergized so to speak.

As far as where will Sigalet fit within the Jackets system? With Rome/Methot/Russell/Tollefsen/Wilson duking it out for the 5/6/7 defensive positions on the Jackets, Sigalet could also put himself in that mix but most likely will add needed depth on the Crunch blueline and join the likes of Plekanov, Clitsome, Motherwell and certainly an AHL vet Dan Smith type player or two back there.

I, however, won't rule him out of competing for a spot on the big squad. We've seen what depth guys from other teams in Rome and Wilson can look like next to our regulars. Unfortunately that tells me most of all I needed to regarding just how bad our blueline really was.

So another minor deal for Howson and its clear he is continuing to build defensive depth. Not sure about the rest of you all though but I'm ready for some big stuff. Of course that won't happen til after the playoffs as its kind of a gentleman's rule not to take any attention away from the NHL's crown jewel the Stanley Cup playoffs -- especially the finals.

What we, or at least I, know now is that nothing is stopping teams teams from talking trades so once those finals end we'll see how quickly Howson is willing to fire the canon instead of these pop guns.


Jackets should take advantage of Leafs house cleaning

Now let me start this off by saying that (unfortunately) I do not have any inside information but I just came across this article from interim Leafs' GM Cliff Fletcher:

Fletcher is engaged in trade talks, possible buyouts and has wrapped up pro and amateur scouting meetings pertaining to the June 20 draft and July free agency.

"I'm starting to prepare to move forward," Fletcher said. "My stamp is going to be on this, whenever my tenure ends. I'm operating under the goal of making this team the top in the league."

Now we know Howson is going to try at least to be a mover and a shaker this offseason in Columbus. He's got the money and the assets available to do it. So when I read about a team like the Leafs who are certainly in a rebuild mode saying they are engaged in trade talks I take notice. Why? Because they have a number of pieces on the block that could really help the Jackets.

Lets take a look.

First we have what Leaf fans are calling the "Frozen Five" of Matts Sudin, Tomas Kaberle, Darcy Tucker, Pavel Kubina and Bryan McCabe. All five of these players have an NTC (No Trade Clause) and if Cliff Fletcher and the Leafs had their way, just about every one of them would have been moved at the trade deadline to get a jump start on the rebuild -- to pull a "Flyers" as a quick turnaround has been labeled of late.

Unfortunately for the Leafs' brass these players liked Toronto to much as none of them would waive their NTCs. Its started with franchise player and captain Matts Sundin and then the rest followed hence the term "Frozen Five".

That was then and this is now. All of these players are in a different situations now so lets take a look:

Matt Sundin - this guy has spent 15+ years with the Leafs' organization and obviously by his decision to not waive his NTC he has no interest in moving elsewhere. His contract however has expired and he is a UFA but the thought is if he and the Leafs don't reach an agreement he will just retire.

Would the Jackets be interested? Hell yes. Even at age 37 he's still a very productive player in this league notching 32g, 46a for 78p last season. He's a big center and we know how desperate the Jackets would be to fill the center of their ice. He would only be a year or two stop gap though and the Jackets would need to find a younger center as well until Brassard is ready. Bottom line though is Sundin has never won a cup, is loyal to Toronto and the chances of him becoming a Jacket are next to none.

Tomas Kaberle - a 30 year old d-man who excels at both ends of the ice. Perhaps even a top 10 d-man in this least top 15. He's notched 53, 58 & 67 points the past 3 years. He's also signed for 3 more at a very reasonable 4.25 mil per. His NTC is still active but he may waive it if Sundin isn't brought back and veterans are either 1. traded or 2. bought out.

Would the Jackets be interested? Howson and Hitch would salivate at the chance to get a player like Kaberle. He is the exact type of players the Jackets covet this offseason on their blueline. Here is what says about him:

"Possesses tremendous hockey smarts and the ability to find his teammates with excellent passes. A swift skater, he loves to join the attack. Defends well."

Uhhh..yeah, I think we could use that. Again though I just don't see him waiving his NTC to come to Columbus but I think the Jackets would make a hellofa run at him including that #6 overall for his services.

Darcy Tucker - a rugged 33 year old 3rd line winger. In the past the Jackets could have really used a guy like Tucker but after his career season of 28g, 33a for 61p his game has started to fade. His legs aren't that good and his production has dropped. He'll still play that agitation role and chip in 15 - 20g but he's signed for 3 more years at 3.3 mil which could make him hard to move.

Would the Jackets be interested? If you'd asked me that two years ago I'd say he was exactly what we needed but with Jared Boll, Jason Chimera and guys like Dorsett and Sestito on their way I think that money and assets it would take to get him can be better utilized elsewhere. That and I don't see Tucker waiving his NTC to come here.

Pavel Kubina - a 30 year old 6'4" 244 lb who is just a solid all around NHL defensemen who gets it done in all 3 zones. One of his best assets is a low point shot and he gets it through. He's had 40, 21 & 38 points the past 3 years playing behind guys like Kaberle and McCabe on the powerplay. He'll also kill penalties and won a cup with the Lightning (yes the same team Modin played on).

Would the Jackets be interested? He's somewhat expensive at 5 mil with two seasons remaining on his contract but he could really really help solidify the Jackets top 4. With money to spend and assets to move I could certainly see Howson making a run at this player with the intention of grabbing another UFA defensemen on the open market to really shore up that group. Look for perhaps that 19th overall pick to be in play for a player like Kubina.

The great thing about Kubina is that there is a clause in his contract that calls for the NTC in his deal to void from mid-June to mid- July. That means he could be dealt to any team including the Jackets.

Bryan McCabe - a 32 year old 6' 2" defensemen who has 3 years remaining on his deal at 6.15, 4.15 and 4.15 mil respectively. McCabe is probably the most 1 dimensional of the 3 defensemen I have listed here. He can bring it offensively as he had 27, 57 and 68 points the past 3 years (he was injured a lot last season) but he's not so good in the defensive zone. Byran Berard comes a bit to mind when thinkin of McCabe but he's not Berard bad defensively. Of the 3 defensemen I'm sure Toronto would like to move him the most but he holds the least amount of value.

Would the Jackets be interested? If all else fails they may turn to McCabe but I think there are a lot of other options they would explore first. McCabe is pretty expensive next year but more reasonable the following two years. He would of course have to waive his NTC which he may refuse to do. The other problem with McCabe was his horrible year last year and if anyone will take a chance on him considering his salary regardless of the NTC. If the Jackets were to make a move they would give up next to nothing for him which is the one positive. Of course if he's a bust we would have a boat anchor of a salary around our necks for the next 3 years.

There are some other players as well that the could be on the block in guys like Jason Blake, who just signed a 5 year deal last offseason as a UFA and is said to already want out, or Andrew Raycroft who has been the Leafs version of Marc Denis since their trade to acquire him 2 years ago. They also have some players I don't see them Leafs moving like Tlusty, Toskala or Antropov.

The "Frozen Five" are the most likely to be moved though and if I had to rank them this would be the Jackets interest:

1. Kaberle
2. Sudin
3. Kubina
4. McCabe
5. Tucker

The most realistic target out of that group is Kubina and for Toronto to move any of those players they are going to want draft picks and young players - both of which the Jackets have to spend.

Only time will tell if any of those trade discussions are going on the Howson and the Jackets though. If the Leafs make a move it should be right at or before the 1st round of the draft on June 20th.

Tick toc.


Monday, May 26, 2008

Blue biscuits

Just catching back up on the happening in the hockey world after the past 4 days. Unfortunately, not a whole lot going on. There were a couple of nuggets that the Dispatch beats commented on over in their puck-rakers blog that I thought I also would comment on:

The negotiations with Pascal Leclaire have yet to start. My first thought is why is that? What exactly is Howson waiting on?

Personally I think this negotiation is going to get real hairy. Leclaire had a very good year last season. He had a great first half and an average second half and just when we thought he may have finally kicked the injury bug he suffered a couple of them down the stretch including a concussion off a Freddy Modin slap shot in warms up that caused him to miss 9 games.

Bottom line though is that Howson has to lock him up. Goaltending is just to important. Super prospect Steve Mason needs to get some seasoning in the minors and Freddy Norrena coming off a lack luster year has one more year left on his deal.

I don't expect a deal anytime soon though. Leclaire is a restricted free agent which would mean the Jackets would have the right to match any offer sheet. I would imagine Leclaire's camp wanting a 4 to 5 year deal at 4 to 5 mil per year which would actually stretch out into some of his unrestricted years.

Howson on the other hand may be a little more hard to read. Perhaps he thinks Mason may be ready in a year or two and won't want to commit to a long term high dollar contact? Perhaps he may commit thinking if Mason does emerge then he'll have a nice trading chip on his hands? Maybe he'll welcome an offer sheet?

Regardless the problem I see emerging is that I see a big negotiation gap between the two camps that I think is going to take a while to resolve -- perhaps even taking them past the July 1st date when RFAs can receive offer sheets.

Definitely keep an eye on this one.

Ben Wright, among others from the 2006 draft class, will not be signed by the Jackets. I, like Portzline, am surprised by this one. Wright is a 6' 2" defensemen who was drafted in the 4th round and has spent 4 seasons with the WHL's Lethbridge Hurricanes. He scored 38 points last year and 47 the year prior.

For a team with a lack of offensive d-men in their system this move was a bit surprising. Then again perhaps this is still part of the house cleaning for the Jackets and taking an unbiased look at the potential of the unsigned picks within the organization. Remember though that the 2006 draft was the last year of drafts under Doug MacLean. Scott Howson took over in 2007. What will be interesting is to see how many picks go unsigned from years when Howson's staff is making the picks and if he still keeps that unbiased eye.

Finally, Machinehead. Should it stay or should it go? Honestly if it were me voting it would be history. Its just stale. In fact the whole damn in-arena experience has gone stale. The Jackets claim that its a calling card to fans that the period is about ready to begin. I can see that argument but my personal opinion is that the time has come to change things up a bit.

Of course then the next question would be change to what? Me personally I love the opening to Paradise City by GN'R - I think that would be sweet.

The entrance song isn't the only thing that could use a make over. The cannon was a nice add but that even has room for improvement. Time to move on from AC/DC "For Those About to Rock".

My suggestion. Keep with Joe Satriani "Crowd Chant" but after have the crowd count off the number of goals scored and then end with "FIRE!!" -- then the arena staff shoots off the canon.

More changes that I think could absolutely refresh the in-arena experience:

- Totally kill the stupid movie video clips. Especially when the crowd is already cheering. Talk about a complete buzzkill.

- MORE REPLAYS!! Seriously do they think the crowd is going to storm the ice if they show a replay of a bad call by a ref? Hell no! If anything is gets the crowd into the game and you know -- actually takes advantage of being at home.

- Allow flags. I look around various venues in the NHL and see all these fans waiving flags and really supporting their team. I'd like to see Nationwide allow the same as it really adds to the atmosphere of the arena.

- Music. For the love off all things 6 oz. of black rubber -- know your demographic. The game ops team could do a much better job of choosing music to pump up the crowd.

- Keep the civil war theme going. They did some cool stuff last season with the drum line and fife. Heck I even liked the bugel guy even though he needs more practives. Keep playing it up.

- Get the dancing fat guy a belt. I've seen enough of his plumber's butt to last me a lifetime.
- Organ. Anything greater than the current Casio will be an improvement.

Now of course nothing will improve the in-arena experience like actually icing a winning team but I think there are certainly some easy tweaks that could made with relatively low planning and budget that could really enhance the game experience for all involved.


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Be back Monday!!

Light the Lamp will be taking a 4 day hiatus for a little R&R (no internet where I'm going!)! I'll be back Monday and back at it.

Have a great Memorial holiday weekend everyone!


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

ISS top 30

Yesterday I posted Redline's top 10. Today ISS released their top 30:

1 Stamkos, Steven C 2/7/90 R 5.11.7 176 Sarnia OHL
2 Filatov, Nikita LW 5/25/90 R 6.00 172 Moscow CSKA-2 RusDi
3 Bogosian, Zach RD 7/15/90 R 6.02 197 Peterborough OHL
4 Doughty, Drew RD 12/8/89 R 6.00.5 219 Guelph OHL
5 Pietrangelo, Alex RD 1/18/90 R 6.03.2 206 Niagara OHL
6 Schenn, Luke RD 11/2/89 R 6.02.2 216 Kelowna WHL
7 Boedker, Mikkel LW 12/16/89 L 5.11.2 195 Kitchener OHL
8 Wilson, Colin (Fr.) C 10/20/89 L 6.01 215 Boston Univ H.E.
9 Hodgson, Cody C 2/18/90 R 5.11.5 185 Brampton OHL
10 Sbisa, Luca LD 1/30/90 L 6.01.7 190 Lethbridge WHL
11 Bailey, Joshua C 10/2/89 L 6.00.5 188 Windsor OHL
12 Boychuk, Zac C 10/4/89 L 5.09.5 175 Lethbridge WHL
13 Beach, Kyle C 1/13/90 R 6.03 203 Everett WHL
14 Tedenby, Mattias LW 2/21/90 L 5.10 176 HV71 SweJE
15 Myers, Tyler RD 2/1/90 R 6.07.2 204 Kelowna WHL
16 Petrov, Kirill LW 4/13/90 L 6.03 198 Kazan RusDi
17 Teubert, Colten RD 3/8/90 R 6.03.5 185 Regina WHL
18 Del Zotto, Michael LD 6/24/90 L 5.11.7 211 Oshawa OHL
19 Robak, Colby LD 4/24/90 L 6.03 194 Brandon WHL
20 Dalpe, Zac C 11/1/89 R 6.00.5 170 Penticton BCHL
21 Carlson, John RD 1/10/90 R 6.02.2 212 Indiana USHL
22 Karlsson, Erik RD 5/31/90 R 5.11 165 V. Frolunda SweJE
23 Colborne, Joe LW 1/30/90 L 6.05 190 Camrose AJHL
24 Grachev, Evgeny C 2/21/90 R 6.03 202 Yaroslavl RusDi
25 Deschamps, Nicolas C 1/6/90 L 6.00.2 173 Chicoutimi QMJHL
26 Nemisz, Greg C 6/5/90 R 6.03 197 Windsor OHL
27 Toews, David LW 6/7/90 R 5.10 175 Shattuck-St. MN-HS
28 Ness, Aaron LD 5/18/90 L 5.09.5 157 Roseau MN-HS
29 Gardiner, Jake LD 7/4/90 L 6.00.5 173 Minnetonka MN-HS
30 Eberle, Jordan C 5/15/90 R 5.10 174 Regina WHL

Their top 4 are the same players as Redline with Bogosian and Doughty swapping spots but the big difference is that Redline has Bodker at the 5 spot while ISS has him at 7. After the top 7 its jumbeled up a bit which tells me there is now a top 7 in this draft...instead of 6.

For me though Filatov is still definitely the wild card. Both ISS and Redline still believe he's the 2nd best prospect in the draft and CSS has him ranked as the #1 European skater. He will need to go before 6 for a defensive stud to fall to us. Again though I find myself asking myself if Filatov is there at 6 and the big 4 are gone, what does Columbus do?

Of course this may all be moot as Columbus could certainly move this pick. Perhaps I should be paying more attention to the 19th pick?

So lets look at the 19th....guys I like who could be there are Beach, Del Zotto, Tedendy and Tuebert.

Of course maybe we trade both picks?

So many scenerios....ahh... the draft is going to be fun this year.

Speaking of, anyone heard if the Jackets or the R Bar are having a draft day party? I'm sure the R Bar will be open for business. I'll try to get some details and post them here.


NHL ratings surge

I was just reading this about the NHL's ratings rise over on

He'll join Versus at a time when the network is crowing over its postseason ratings. According to the network's giddy spokesperson, the quarterfinals were up 33 percent, the conference semifinals were up 50 percent and, as of Friday, the conference finals were up 71 percent. (All together now: Thank you, Sidney Crosby.)

Obviously, we're talking small numbers compared to the NFL, but Game 2 of the Penguins-Flyers conference final was the most-watched telecast (2,345,834 viewers) in the history of the network, beating the final day of the 2005 Tour de France. The game also marked the most-viewed NHL cable telecast (playoff or regular season) since the 2002-03 season. NBC's ratings are also up during the postseason, according to the network. (The Penguins Game 5-clinching win over the Flyers drew a monster 26.1 rating in Pittsburgh and a 46 share.) Assuming Detroit can close out Dallas, the NHL will have its most marketable star (Crosby) against one of the most rabid fan bases (Detroit). As always, network executives will root for volume. Ratings rise as a series gets deeper.

"Sidney has proven to be a marketable guy," says Messier. "He was put in a position to carry the NHL from a marketing standpoint and he has really responded for a young guy. The league can lean on him."

This is obviusly good news for the league despite my despite for the Wings being in the final.

Taking off my CBJ rose colored glasses for a second....a final of the Wings and Pens is indeed a ratings dream for the NHL and should hopefully provide a much needed shot in the arm for a battered and bruised league still recovering from a lockout just 3 short years ago.

Its been a long road to recovery since the 04 lockout that saw the NHL become the first major pro sports league to cancel an entire season. With the outdoor game this year and improved ratings throughout the season and into the finals, its getting real hard for those ESPN ego maniacs to find new ways bash the league. Its always been ratings, ratings, ratings.

Now of course the NHL will never be a ratings driven league and that subject will always be an easy target for canned criticism. The NHL though has never been (even in the mythical Rangers 94 cup run) and never will be a ratings giant. It will always be a gate driven league with a game best viewed in person.

Still though any ratings bump is a good sell for the NHL - its a positive sign, something to build from both for its image and add revenue sales with its television partners. With their marque star Sidney Crosby already making his Stanley Cup Finals debut in just his 3rd season the momentum should only continue.

Its also a bit of a vindication in my mind that Versus is doing just fine as a cable home for the NHL and contrary to what those mouthpieces at Bristol say people are finding the network. Versus was already getting the same number as ESPN2 garnered last year with less househoulds and is only growing its footprint. That modest .2 average has climbed to .3 this season from 261,760 a game from an average of 195,666.

I always thought that argument was a load anyways - in the days of hundreds of channels with guides people will find what they want to watch. If you listen to these people its a wonder if any of them have watched a sports telecast in HD -- afterall they may have to actually pull up their guide and use their melons for a second.

It should be a good final - not great in my mind of course..well because Columbus isn't there. Its also the first final in three years that doesn't involve a Canadian team which will only make the US ratings stronger.
Personally though I can't wait for it to end so we can get on the CBJ extreme makeover.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

New draft ranking

Redline just released their final draft ranking.

For those just getting up to speed on this whole draft ranking business there are three key independent services; International Scouting Services (ISS), McKeens & Redline.

The NHL also has their own scouting service called Central Scouting Service. Their final rankings can be found here.

Its interesting to follow all the rankings including the independent services - especially when your Columbus and are always drafting so high in the first round.

Last month the 3 services were pretty tightly ranked in the top 10. They each had Stamkos #1 and then Filatov #2 and then Doughty/Bogosian mixed and matched at 3 and 4. That hasn't changed with Redline's new ranking but there is a lot of differences after the top 4:


1 Steven Stamkos C 6-1/180 R 7-Feb-90 Sarnia

2 Nikita Filatov LW 6-0/172 R 25-May-90 CSKA

3 Drew Doughty D 6-0/213 R 8-Dec-89 Guelph

4 Zach Bogosian D 6-2/199 R 15-Jul-90 Peterborough

5 Mikkel Bodker RW 5-11/201 L 16-Dec-89 Kitchener

6 Alex Pietrangelo D 6-3/198 R 18-Jan-90 Niagara

7 Luke Schenn D 6-2/210 R 2-Nov-89 Kelowna

8 Kirill Petrov RW 6-3/218 L 13-Apr-90 Ak Bars Kazan

9 Cody Hodgson C 5-11/182 R 18-Feb-90 Brampton

10 Tyler Myers D 6-7/210 R 1-Feb-90 Kelowna

Interesting that there is no Wilson or no Hodgson in the top 10. Also Mikkel Bodker is really climbing at #5. From there are two defensemen sitting pretty (potentially for us) at 6 and 7 in Pietrangelo and Schenn.

So what does this all tell us?

Perhaps the top 6 isn't quite as set as we/I thought. A month ago Pietrangelo was thought to be a sure fire top 4 pick but he seems to be slipping. Bodker was more in that 8-10 range and now he's managed to climb into the top 5 at Redline of an impressive playoff performance. For those that have the NHL Network you can actually catch Bodker playing for Kitchner in the Memorial Cup.

..and how about Filatov? This kid is consistantly getting ranked the 2nd best prospect in this draft behind Stamkos. Of course there is that nasty lack of transfer agreement with Russia that is hanging over team's heads as they put their own draft lists together. Will he drop? He says he wants to come over which may be enough for a team in the top 5 to grab this offensive dynamo.

For Columbus, a team that could really use a defensive stud in their system, this is all good news. The question for me will be if both Pietrangelo and Schenn are indeed available at 6, which I still think is unlikely, who does Columbus choose? That would be a nice problem to have.

I am certainly liking Columbus' chances to land one of Doughty, Bogosian, Pietrangelo or Schenn though the more and more I read these rankings. Especially with Bodker really climbing and Filatov staying locked at #2.

Stay tuned for more draft coverage on lightthelamp!


Monday, May 19, 2008

Just checking out THN's draft preview...

Here are the top 30 for those that don't get it:

1. Steven Stamkos - center - CAN
2. Drew Doughty - defensemen - CAN
3. Zach Bogosian - defensemen - USA
4. Nikita Filatov - left wing - RUS
5. Alex Pietrangelo - defensemen - CAN
6. Luke Schenn - defensemen - CAN
7. Colin Wilson - center - USA
8. Cody Hodgson - center - CAN
9. Mikkel Boedker - left wing - DAN
10. Kyle Beach - center - CAN
11. Tyler Myers - defensemen - CAN
12. Zach Boychuk - center - CAN
13. Colten Teubert - defensemen - CAN
14. Josh Bailey - center - CAN
15. Michael Del Zotto - defensemen - CAN
16. Mattias Tedenby - left wing - SWE
17. Luca Sbisa - defensemen - SWISS
18. Colby Robak - defensemen - CAN
19. Jacob Marksrom - goalie - SWE
20. Mikhail Stefanovich - center - BEL
21. Greg Nemisz - center - CAN
22. Jordan Eberle - center - CAN
23. Yann Suave - defensemen - CAN
24. Anton Gustafsson - center - SWE
25. Joel Colborne - left wing - CAN
26. A.J. Jenkins - center - USA
27. Daultan Leveille - center - CAN
28. Tyler Cuma - defensemen - CAN
29. Zac Dalpe - center - CAN
30. John Carlson - defensemen - USA

Now Howson has been quoted as saying he thinks Columbus will end up with defensemen if they keep that #6 overall pick, especially given how top heavy this draft is with defensemen.

However if Dougthy, Bogosian (whom I personally love), Pietrangelo and Schenn are all off the board - which could happen - does Howson draft the supremely talented Russian in Filatov?

Here is what THN had to say about him:

Russian teenager Alexei Cherepanov tumbled on draft day last ear more because of his effort and character than the NHL's problems with the Russian federation.

If Filatov tumbles, it won't have anything to do with his skill or desire.

"He probably has as much skill as anyone in this draft and he's a very competitive player," one scout said.

But the left winger for Central Army's second division team will surely slide because teams don't know what hoops will have to be cleared to get him to the NHL. And teams that are choosing high are looking for secure picks.

The lack of an agreement with Russia might help, said one scout. It means if he doesn't sign, he'll remain a defected player in perpetuity instead of going back into the draft in two years.

Filatov has been a consistent terror for opposing goalies at international tournaments.

The magazine also stated that if Filatov played in the Canadian Major Juniors there is no doubt he would have put up Stamkos like numbers.

Interesting no doubt but I just don't see the organization taking a chance on a Russian this high in the draft again after selecting Zherdev just a few short years ago 4th overall in one of the deepest drafts ever. There seems to be no denying this kid's talent level though. Alot of people compare his game to Pavel Datsyuk.

It will be real interesting to watch what Columbus does if those big 4 drop right in a row after Stamkos goes #1 to Tampa.

I really like what I read about Elerbe, Ennis and Wahl though. Three smaller players who can flat out zip offensively. If we retain th 36th overall pick in the 2nd round and go D in the first I certainly wouldn't mind picking one of those kids up.

Also something else I want to note. THN's 29th ranked Zach Dalpe is committed to Ohio State next season although the magazine mentions there is "rumblings he may end up with OHL's Lodon Knights". Don't do it Dalpe - come to OSU, they desperately need you! They go on to say "there are few players in this draft who have risen faster and higher than Dalpe".

Speaking of college recruits. For those that like to keep up with more than OSU football's recruiting class here is a great site that tracks incoming NCAA D1 hockey recruits.

Finally for those keeping track. THN has 52 Canadians ranked in their top 100 and 18 USA born followed by 7 Swedes and 6 Fins.

For those that follow the draft closely I would recommend picking this up. It can usually be found at Barns & Noble but you may want to call first. It makes following the draft on draft day much more fun.


Canada falls short of gold and more..

Team Canada couldn't close the game after having two two goal leads throughout it. For a country that is disappointed with anything but gold, this loss was certainly no less deflating:

"We really sat back in the second half (of the game)," said Rick Nash. "You have a two-goal lead in the gold medal game going into the third period - we had to play better."

"Nobody on this team came here to win silver," said Ward. "It's tough right not because you do feel like you've let your country down. There will be other tournaments, there will be more to come. We've got to keep our head up high.
"We have an excellent program."

Nash didn't have a great final outing and while his penalty in OT will unfortunately be what most people remember about his performance in that tourney, he played very well. He tallied 6g, 7a for 13 points in 9 games played for 3rd best in the tourney behind Heatley and Getzlaf.

Jason Chimera didn't exactly "light it up" but he played a key role on the 4th line and collected a couple of helpers and finished a +3 in 9 games.

Finally Pascal Leclaire. He went 4-0 with a 92.52 save% and a 2.0 GAA. He even collected a shutout. He roughest game was the semi-final against Sweden where he gave up 4 goals and a lot of juicy rebounds. Overall though he had a very solid tournament.

There is a nice 1v1 with Rick Nash on

So what's next for Hitch and the Jackets? The players will no doubt take some much needed R&R while Hitch will certainly take a day or two to catch his breath. Then it should be right back to Columbus to get to work on next season.

On the docket will sure to be a complete breakdown of last season and a thorough overview of not only unrestricted free agents that will be available, but players they will target through trade or perhaps even offer sheets.

I'm sure he will also check in to make sure his players are sticking to their assigned offseason conditioning programs and no doubt he'll have a lot of long talks with Scott Howson about the direction this team needs to go. Lets also not forget that there are a few prospects that will be spending the offseason in Columbus

Its certainly a key offseason..perhaps a make or break it one for the franchise. The grunt of the work will happen over the next few weeks when the spotlight shines the darkest.

Congrats to the Pittsburgh Penguins for making the Stanley Cup Finals. This is going to sound like sour grapes, and it is, but damn them. A team that was a cup contender when we entered the league went to be the worst team in the league for a four to five year stretch to almost being relocated. Now they have Crosby, Malkin, Fleury, Whitney, Staal as their last 5 of 6 round draft picks, a new stadium on the way and are back in the finals.

Meanwhile the Jackets continue to toil in mediocrity.

The Jackets have sucked but just didn't suck enough to get the no brainer draft picks and sure as hell didn't have luck on their side during the Crosby-stakes or any draft lottery for that matter. Instead we've got Klesla, Leclaire, Nash, Zherdev, Picard, Brule, Brassard & Voracek. One legit superstar out of the bunch - despite having the best average draft pick over that span.

Leclaire is finally showing that franchise potential. Klesla will be no more than a top 4 defensemen. Nash is the only legit superstar who desperately needs some help. Z is an enigma. Brule and Picard have bust written all over them. Brassard and Voracek look promising but we've heard that before.

Again - sour grapes I fully admit - but a lot of "what ifs" in that group. What if we took Vanek or Phaneuf over Z? What if we took Kopitar instead of Brule? The Picard year was horrible for everyone outside of top 2 but damn what if we could have finished one spot better and won the lottery like Washington did and the rights to draft Ovechkin?

I could play this "what if" game all day but it doesn't do us any good now. Doug MacLean dug a real deep hole of shit for this franchise and we can only hope Howson/Hitch can dig it out. The problem is what if they don't?


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Canada goes for gold!

Its to bad we here in the states can't watch it but Team Canada goes for gold against the Russians today at the finals of the World Championships in Quebec City.

The game is 1:30 EST and at the very least can be followed over at

Hitch, Nash & Chimera will represent the Jackets for Cananda. Only former Jacket Sergei Fedorov will be suiting up for the Russians.

As a friend of mine suggested, wouldn't it be sweet if Chimera or Nash got a few big hits on their old teammate? Uh huh!

Leclaire will not start the final. Cam Ward gets the nod as Hitch will stick with his goalie rotation.

A big game no doubt. The last time the Canadians/Russians met in a World Championship final was in 1952.

Should be a great game. Good luck boys!


Saturday, May 17, 2008

With Marleau on block....Jackets get another chance to land 1st line center

Puck-rakers just reported that it does indeed look like the San Jose Sharks are putting center, long time captain and original 2nd overall 1997 draft pick on the block.

As Puck-rakers states Marleau has 2 years left on his deal at 6.3 million. The key though is that as of July 1st he has a no trade clause that kicks in so if San Jose wants to deal him, they have to do it before then.

....and as it stands, it looks as though that is exactly what they intend to do.

So where do the Jackets fit in all of this Marleau news?

Well its no secret the Jackets are desperate to get Rick Nash some legit help at center. Help he's never really had. Howson made the push for Brad Richards but ultimately lost out as they did not have goaltending asset to give up. That shouldn't be a problem this time around should Howson be interested as the Sharks are set at that position with perenial all star Evgeni Nabokov locked up for years to come.

Here is's take on Marleau:


Is blessed with great speed and can catch defenders off guard by blazing right by them. Has natural goal-scoring ability, good size for the center position and emerging leadership issues.

Still suffers through bouts of inconsistency from time to time. Needs to use his size even more to his advantage.

Career potential
First line center.

2007 San Jose NHL 78 19 29 48 -19 33 10.3
2006 San Jose NHL 77 32 46 78 9 33 17.8
2005 San Jose NHL 82 34 52 86 -12 26 13.1
2004 Did not play -- 0 0 0 0 0 0 --
2003 San Jose NHL 80 28 29 57 -5 24 12.7
2002 San Jose NHL 82 28 29 57 -10 33 16.3
2001 San Jose NHL 79 21 23 44 9 40 17.4
2000 San Jose NHL 81 25 27 52 7 22 17.1
1999 San Jose NHL 81 17 23 40 -9 36 10.6
1998 San Jose NHL 81 21 24 45 10 24 15.7
1997 San Jose NHL 74 13 19 32 5 14 14.4

So a 28 year old center, just now in his prime. He's got 5 of 10 seasons with 52 or more points. 2 of his last 3 he had 70 or more points. He's fast with good size who can score and set up plays. He also gets it done in the playoffs as he had 4g, 4a for 8 points in 13 games this playoff.

So with all that said why in the wide wide world of sports would San Jose want to part with this guy?

First off his production dropped from 78 to 48 points last year. He went from a +9 to a -19 in that span. There was also well publicized issues with then head coach Ron Wilson who has recently been fired.

Marleau is also the captain but has only been able to lead his cup contending team past the 3rd round once in the 2003-2004 season. With the acquisition of superstar center Joe Thornton two seasons ago Marleau has seen his stature as both team captain and franchise player diminish over the years now to the point where it looks like San Jose is ready to go in another direction.

San Jose is also a team that will not spend to the cap. They are a budget team like Columbus. They made a huge acquisition in defensemen Brian Campbell at the deadline giving up this year's 1st round pick and 2003 1st round pick Steve Bernier. Moving Marleau's salary one would think that would free up plenty of money to sign Campbell long term.

So back to Howson.
Does he make play for him? You bet your Blue Jacket behind he does. The key though is how does the organization think he'll mesh with Nash? If we do acquire him, which I think there is a really good chance, we'll know they are optimistic although nothing is guaranteed of course.

Look. Anyone center that will be on the market is going to have some flaws. If he didn't then he wouldn't be on the market. Whether it be Richards' 7.8 mil contract or Marleau's inconsistency and sometimes lack of intensity during the regular season. The point is that unless we draft it, we ain't gonna get a picture perfect guy.

Marleau certainly wouldn't be my first choice but my first choice won't be available..unless you think the Pen's would trade Sidney Crosby? He would however, be a massive upgrade down the middle of our lineup. This isn't a 35 year old Russian center on the downside of his career with 3 years at 6 mil left on his deal we are talking about there - this a 28 year old just now in his prime.

That said if we did acquire him there would certainly be some questions to be answered. How would he respond to being traded to a team/city like Columbus? How would he respond to Hitch? Would there be chemistry between he and Nash? Would he just sleepwalk through the season if he were disgruntled? Last thing we want is a 28 year old Fedorov on our hands right?

Assuming the Jackets interest the question becomes what's it gonna take to get him?

The good news for the Jackets and Howson is that the Sharks don't have a draft pick, not one, through the first 3 rounds of the draft. Draft picks are exactly what the Jackets have in spades including two hum-dingers (did I just say hum-dingers?) in the first round -- 6th and 19th overall. They also have the cap space to absorb Marleaus 6.2 million in salary over the next two years as well as expendable assets.

So what's it gonna take?

Well we know the Sharks wants picks. I've also read that they need a top 6 winger. We've got the picks and we've also got an, in my view, exendible winger.

If I'm Howson I start with the 19th pick or Nik Zherdev and work a package from there. No way I part with the 6th overall in this deep of draft to obtain a good, but not elite, talent that we could lose for nothing in 2 years.

Some potentials:

A. 19th + 3rd + 5th for Marleau

B. Zherdev + 3rd for Marleau


C. 19th + (take your pick of Brule/Fritsche/Tollefsen) for Marleau

I think all of those deals are good return for Marleau and address San Jose needs of unloading salary and acquiring draft picks or a top 6 winger.

If the deal goes down with the Jackets I think that 19th will absolutely have to be a part of the package going the other direction.

Trades can't be made until after the finals are over so look for Marleau to get dealt between then and June 20th which is the first day of the draft.
Of course we won't be the only interested party in obtaining Marleau's services. It will be interesting to see who also gets involved (Puck-rakers mentions Calgary but I don't see how they can afford him with what they've already got tied up and still need sign) and how aggressive Howson is willing to be.
I also don't think Marleau could be Howson's only transaction come draft day. Depending on what he gives up the Jackets could have a number of assets, including the 6th, in play to land even more help.

At this point though I think its really going to have to be, as Howson has said, a special player to move out of 6th overall. The top 6 in this draft are supposed to be that good.

Exciting times. Lets get these playoffs over with already and move into this offseason!!

Discuss - are you interested in Marleau? What would you be willing to give up for him?


Friday, May 16, 2008

Blue biscuits

Bob Hunter has some interesting Jackets nuggets to share in his weekly "rumblings" column today.

First up was his review of Derek Brassard in the AHL playoffs. Brassard scored 13 points in 13 games for the Crunch and it seems, at least to Bob, that perhaps the Jackets may think he's ready to hold down that #2 center position. He goes on to say what's the point of sinking a bunch of dough into a #2 veteran center if the 20 Brassard is ready?

He makes a valid point. I'm just not sure the Jackets can hedge their bets that he will indeed be ready. They have gotten "brule'd" on that before! Lots of holes to fill though so if there is one area they may choose to roll the dice on it may be on the 20 year old 2006 #6 overall pick in that 2nd line center hole.

He also touched on Jason Spezza and the comments that Hitch made during the World Championships that he is ready to be coached to take his game to an even higher level. Some people may read that as Hitch hinting he'd love to be that coach. I read that Spezza, for all the natural talent this guy has, is a bit of a headcase. When Ottawa got eliminated and the Spezza trade rumors started to fly I was first in line wanting to acquire this guy. I'm not so sure he's the kind of player I'd be willing to give up mountains of assets for to acquire at this point.

Speaking of the 2006 draft. How good is the top of that draft looking? You had Erik Johnson, Jordan Staal, Jonathen Towes, Niklas Backstrom, Phil Kessel, Derek Brassard, Kyle Okposo and Peter Mueller as the top 8. All are making impacts. In fact at this point Brassard has made the least impact in the NHL but that doesn't mean much at this point as the Jackets have finally given one of their top forwards time to develop. That draft is shaping up to be something special early on.

In case you haven't heard yet, Rick Nash is on the cover of the NHL2K9. What great exposure for the franchise and for 61. Well deserved.

A quote from Nasher on the announcement:

"My idols have all been on the covers of video games as I was growing up, so to be on the cover of NHL 2K9 myself is truly incredible," said Nash. "The set of new features they're adding is really going to make this game special for hockey fans - I'm hoping they give me a couple extra points to my player rating this year!"

My friend asked what color do you think the jersey will be that they put him in on the cover? We both love the whites but I think they'll go with a shot of him in the union blue.

For me personally I was a big fan of the NHL2K series but EA really upped the ante last year and made one of the best hockey video games I have ever played and haven't played 2k since. I'll buy the 2k series next year just for the cover but I'm hoping they do an extreme make-over of their game similar to what EA did last year an up their own ante. A healthy competition amongst game company's only benefits the quality of the product for the consumer.

Anyhow - way to go Nasher!! I finally have something new to put in the "CBJ Closet" section of this blog.

Hitch, Nash, Leclaire, Chimera and Team Canada are back at it today as they move into the semi-finals against Sweden at 5 p.m. EST. Obviously a win today puts them in the finals and a chance at their 2nd straight gold medal. Pascal Leclaire gets the starts in what is probably the biggest game of his career. This experience will only build confidence for his first playoff game next season :)

According to Puck-rakers Howson hopes to open up contract extension talks with Hitch over this summer. Don't look for Hitch to be extended anytime before the Draft or the July 1st UFA season. I think Hitch wants to wait to see what kind of groceries Howson gets him to cook a winner with before committing long term. Who can blame him.

Who else thinks these playoffs are taking foooorrreeeevvvveeeer!?! With such a big offseason on tap for the CBJ I want nothing but sweeps (preferably a sweep of Detroit) so we can get on with the offseason. NHL Draft only 35 days away. I'm expecting some major CBJ wheeling and dealing by Howson and the brass.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Team Canada advances....US falls in OT and is eliminated

Hitch, Nash and and the boys on Team Canada advanced in their first elimination game against Norway 8-2. They are now in the final four of the World Championship and will be competing for a medal.

Rick Nash continues his tear in that tourney notching 2 goals and an assist. He's second in tournament scoring with 5g, 7a for 12p in 7 games played.

Of course the game wasn't as much of a one sided affair as you'd think by the final outcome. If fact the score was 2-2 mid-way through the 2nd period. A quote from Hitch:

''When it was 2-2, I was wondering if that ferry had a direct route to Columbus,'' Hitchcock said before boarding a plane to Quebec instead. ''The players play and they don't worry about things. We sweated all day today as a coaching staff.

''These are defining moments for you as a coach because if you lose this game, you all (the media) are writing about us and me tomorrow. And it's not going to be pleasant.''

This will be Canada's 6th straight trip to the semifinals. Leclaire gets the starts tomorrow.

Unfortunately that can't be said for the US team. They lost 3-2 in OT to Finland. Its the second time in this tournament that the US lost a 1 goal game to that country in OT. Unfortunately, being an elimination game, it will be the final time. The US will finish 5th overall and will not earn a medal. A disappointing end to their tournament but many young US players earned valuable international experience.

The US team just can't seem to get over the hump lately. They lost to Canada by one goal. They lost to Finland in two games each by a goal. Two years ago they lost in the World Juniors semifinals to Canada in an OT shootout. One of these days they are going to start getting the better end of these outcomes. It can't come soon enough.

If you weren't yet, we are all Team Canada fans now!!


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hainsey and Peca negotations stay on backburner..

From Puck-rakers:

Howson has not had any contract negotiations with Jackets’ free agents such as Ron Hainsey or Michael Peca. The GM said he would "have some dialogue” with those players before July 1, the beginning of the free-agent season.

No surprise here for me.

Some fans may grumble about Hainsey but seriously where will he fit?

We've got our two shutdown guys locked up in Rusty Klesla and Jan Hejda. We've got our bottom pairing defensemen in OK Tollefsen, Aaron Rome, Marc Methot, Kris Russell and Clay Wilson. What we need are high end guys.

Is Ron Hainsey that guy because he's going to want to get paid like one?

To me the answer to that question is an indisputable no, no, no.'s profile on Hainsey:

Has great mobility, size and reach. Can play on either side of the ice. Displays plenty of offensive upside. Is capable of logging a ton of minutes.

Is far too soft for his 6-3, 211-pound frame. Needs more polish in the defensive zone. Is still a bit raw in all three zones.

Career potential
Top four defenseman.

We've seen what Hainsey can do when being the #1 option for the Jackets offensively from the blueline and nothing against Hainsey, but it just ain't good enough. The Jackets need a whole lot more if thoughts of playoffs are dacin around in their heads.

The Jackets had the #28 worst PP in the league. Hainsey was its PPQB.

Granted most of the Jackets were bad down the stretch and Hainsey was no exception. Over the past 20 games he had 1 goal, 3 assists and was a -8. Not nearly good enough.

He can log lots of minutes and he does stay relatively healthy but he doesn't hit, has a helluva hard time getting shots through and is terrible on the transition and powerplay.

Hainsey will get his money from somebody. He's come a long way from where he was when MacLean first claimed him on waivers from Montreal but he's not the answer for us at this point. Howson has a unique opportunity to remake the defense and he's going to shoot for the , no pun intended, stars.

Will he get the guys he wants?

That remains to be seen but I think there are many guys that will be on the market where put in Hainsey's position and PP time could produce similar stats for cheaper -- what Howson is looking for are guys who are much better than that.

You need consistent production for the blueline, especially on the PP and we just did not get it last year.

Our defense needs at minimum two huge upgrades. We need guys who can work the point on the powerplay to free up our guys down low. Right now all teams do is pressure our D because they know we don't have the skill on the backend to move it ala pretty much any playoff team.

Why do you think Holmstrom is so open in front of the net in Detroit when they are on a PP? Its because opponents have to respect Detroit's skill on the blueline.

Ain't nobody respecting Ron Hainsey's skill on the point of a PP. Howson knows that, Hitch knows that hence why he won't be re-signed.

Now of course Howson is not going to land a Lindstrom caliber player but there are guys expected to hit he UFA market who could certainly help - guys like Campbell, Liles and Redden among others. Then there is always the trade route with potential targets like Kubina, Kaberle, Pitkanen & Whitney among others.

As far as Peca. Nothing at all suprising with him. He won't be back. The organization has plenty of guys who can fill bottom six roles. Howson needs top 6 guys and that's where his dollars need to go. Peca did a decent job for us under the circumstances (Svitov bolting) but its time to move on and think bigger.