directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Crystal ball time v3.0

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Friday, May 9, 2008

Crystal ball time v3.0

Its back!!

Crystal ball (v3) time again.

1. 19th overall traded to Philly for RJ Umberger. Jackets sign him to 4 year 12 million dollar deal.
Draft day trade. The Jackets need a set up guy for Rick Nash. Umberger was 28th in the league in assists for centers with 37. Looking through the list of top centers he is the first playmaking one that strikes me as really being available and I think he'd be a good fit. He's only 26, is an RFA and is only going to get better. The Flyers just don't have the room for him with having to get Jeff Carter locked down and improving their defense. Umberger had 50 points total last season in 34 games. He's got the size at 6'2" and won't break the bank. He is very capable of sliding into a top 6 center position and opening up some ice for Nash and Modin and more importantly, getting them the puck. A cherry on top is that he played for Ohio State.

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

3. Nik Zherdev traded to Vancouver for Kevin Bieksa
The Jackets just don't factor Zherdev into their future and choose to trade him this offseason while his trade value is highest. Vancouver is desperate for offensive help and has a glut of d-men on their blueline. Bieksa is a guy they wouldn't have moved for Z last year. Z is a guy some wouldn't move for Bieksa this year -- sounds like the perfect trade to me. Bieksa had a fluke injury last season which really limited him but the year before he put up 42p in 81 games and was a +1. He's only 26 and has a ton of upside yet can deliver right now. He has a great shot from the point (and can get it through), is physical and isn't afraid to drop the mits. He is EXACTLY the kind of player I think Hitch/Howson love. He instantly improves the top 4 and makes this team tougher to play against. He is signed for 3 more years at 4.25/3.5/3.5.

4. Jackets trade 2009 2nd round pick to San Jose for rights to Brian Campbell who is then signed to a 6 year 36 million with NTC
San Jose opts not to sign Campbell but gives us permission to negotiate pre July 1st. The Jackets come to terms with Campbell and then send San Jose a 2nd round 2009 pick as compensation. The Jackets get their PPQ. Sure they overpay as Campbell, while a horse offensively, definitely has some flaws in his own end. The Jackets though could not afford to go into next season without a legit option to run their PP and Campbell is the best option. The Sharks have no draft picks in the top 3 rounds and salvage something for Campbell. Campbell had 62 points last season and is only 28 years old. He would instantly improve the Jackest transition and PP.

5. Andrew Brunette signed to 2 year 6 mil
Brunette is a an older veteran (34) who is a top 6 left wing. He is 6'1" 212 pounds who hasn't missed a game in the past 5 seasons. He is as good a playmaker as he is a goal scorer. He has averaged 68 points over the past 3 years. He really compliments the top 6 and gives them another consistant scorer which this team desperately needs.

6. Ryan Malone signed to 5 year 22.5 mil
Ultimatley Malone would have liked to have stayed in Pitt but with names like Malkin, Hossa and Staal to resign in the near future they just couldn't afford to commit that kind of salary. That opens up the door for Howson to throw a wad of cash and term at the rugged winger. Howson loves his grit and scoring touch and Hitch loves his competitive fire which is badly needed in our top 6. Yes they overpay but he solidfys the top 6. Of course questions about his offensive production will be on the forefront - was it him or playing with franchise guys like Crosby and Malkin? The good news there is that Malone put up 43 points his rookie year without either guy..anyone of note really. He can also play center.

7. Leclaire resigned to 4 year 16 mil
No brainer here. No team can win without good goaltending. Leclaire is resigned to a 4 year 16 mil dollar deal. That gives Mason plenty of time to develop and solifies our net for the foreseeable future.

8. Jan Hejda signed to 3 year 6 mil (check! although I had 4 year 10 mil previously)
Howson locks up our best defensive defensemen with a 3 year deal that averages 2 mil per.

Nash (6.5) Umberger (3) Modin (3.5)
Brunette (3) Vermette (3) Malone (4.5)
Chimera (1.875) Malhotra (1.5k) Voracek (875k)
Boll (570k) Murray (800k) Dorsett (570k)
Depth: Novotny/Brassard/Pineault/Picard/Sestito/Legein

Campbell (6) Hejda (2)
Klesla (1.65) Bieksa (4.250)
Tollefsen (750k) Rome (750k)
Depth: Russell/Methot/Wilson

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

Total salary: 49.99


This team puts the Jackets at budget with 49.99 mil committed towards next year and is a vast upgrade in skill. Sure its probably a little more than ownership wanted to spend but if persented with that kind of lineup there is just no way ownership could say no.

That is a team that will make the playoffs.

This is a team that has significantly upgraded itself up the middle with players that are good but are going to get even better in Vermette and Umberger.

This is a team that has significantly upgraded is defense and puck moving ability with the addition of Campbell and Bieksa.

This is also a team that has upgraded its overall scoring puch adding 4 players who scored 50 or more points last season (Malon/Campbell/Brunette/Malone) while only giving up 1 in Zherdev. It also allows young players like Brassard/Voracek/Russell to continue their development and puts no uneeded pressure on them to player higher in the linenup that they should or their development warrants.

It also gives Hitch a nice mix of proven veterans, guys in/or approaching their prime and youngsters which to work with.

Furthermore this team just got a whole lot tougher. Both Malone and Bieksa aren't afraid to drop the mits. Couple them with Tollefsen, Boll and sometimes Chimera and Rome then you have a tough team who can play you any you wanbt. That does not even include Dorsett or Sestito who could very well make the team and will most certainly see time.

This is also a team that will stay together for at least 2 years. At that point guys like Malhotra/Brunette and Klesla will fall of the books if not resigned. There will be financial flexibility to resign guys like Nash/Brassard/Voracek/Russell.

Another plus is that in this scenario the Jackets retain their #6 overall selection and add a significant piece to their system. That better be the last top 10 pick the Jackets have for quite some time. They do give up some of their future in Colorado's 1st, Zherdev, Brule & Fritsche but its the price you have to pay.

Anyhow...another example of what Howson could do this summer (and another example that I have to much time on my hands) but its fun playing with the different options.

This one's a winner Howson - make it so!!

Crystal ball v1.0

Crystal ball v2.0



Jo said...

Personally, I'd pass on Bieska and keep Hainsey as our #2 puckmover - much easier to resign a guy who wants to stay than to try to swing a trade, and we can keep Z. Otherwise, yay!

Anonymous said...

Hainsey over Bieksa? NOT IN A MILLION YEARS!!!!!!!!!!!!

Umberger is scoring some goals right now, but as our top line center? If we had to I guess. He is better than pretty much whatever we have now, but he isn't a guy I dream about having on our top line.

LTL said...

Obviously I'm not much a fan of Hainsey. He's servicable but is playing way to far up the lineup. Bieska is a much more all around d-man than Hainsey is or ever will be.

Hainsey best year point wise was two years ago when he had 34. He was also a -19. He can log alot of minutes but he's soft, can't see the ice, is just average on the transition and isn't physical at all.

Bieska is a year younger, is physical, can really shoot the puck, is just as good on the transition, if not better, and he'll drop the gloves if need be. His best year was 2 years ago when he had 42 points and a +1.

Hainsey has had his chance to QB the Jackets PP and QB'd it all the way to the 28th worst PP in the league. He is horrible at getting shots through.

Bieksa may not end up here but I think Hainsey's days in Columubs are numbered for those reasons I list and many others.

Anyhow.. thanks for the comments. It will be interesting to see how Howson remakes this defense.


LTL said...

Also I know what you mean about Umberger. Not the name that exactly screams at you and I don't think he's a legit #1 center but as I was looking at options he was one of the players I thought was realistic, was a playmaker that Nash needs and would still allow Howson the flexibility to fill other holes (i.e grab another top 6 center).

If he were to land both Umberger and Vermette I don't think either would be a #1, but more of a center by committee.

Here is a question I have. Would you rather have Marleau and Brassard or Umberger, Vermette and Brassard?

Keep in mind injuries, upside and balance throughout the lineup.

Marleau goes down with an injury and the what? Its Brassard/Malhotra/Novotny/Murray - yikes.

I would definitely be tempted to try and hit the homerun and grab a legit #1 guy but I can also see the strategy in going with two top 6 younger centers who still have upside. Lots of positives and negatives with both options.