directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: The eliminated pt. II

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Monday, May 5, 2008

The eliminated pt. II

..and just like that the final four who will compete for the Stanley Cup are decided.

Philly vs. Pit (battle of Pennslyvania)

Detroit vs. Dallas (battle of....D's?)

Anyhow, yesterday both the NY Rangers and the San Jose Sharks were eliminated from their series. Both teams have some interesting pieces that could be available and some tough decisions to make.

We'll start with the Rangers.

NY Rangers

As big a market as they come in the NHL. The Rangers will spend to the cap every year. Lately though they have done a better job at drafting with guys like Girardi, Staal, Dubinski, Lundqvist, Dawes, and Tyutin who all have prominate roles on the team and all were draft picks. That said the Rangers aren't afraid to make free agent splashes as they did last year plucking both Chris Drury and Scott Gomez, two cream of the crops UFAs, out of the free agent pool.

The Rangers had a pretty good year. They finished 5th in the Eastern Conference with 97 points. I think more was expected of them after their big offseason acquisitions but they got into the playoffs and won a round. Unfortunately for them they couldn't match the powerhouse that Pittsburgh (the luckiest team on earth) has become. Believe it or not the Rangers struggled mightily to score goals, even with the likes of Jagr, Shanahan, Gomez, Drury and Straka in the lineup. Their 213 goals for were the 4th worst in the conference.

The Rangers have 13 players signed for 33 million. They have, count em, nine unrestrictured free agents and two key restricted free agents. They have a lot of decisions to make as do some of their players.

Jaromir Jagr - the prolific high scoring right wing is 36 now. He will be a UFA this summer but there is talk that he has a 12 million dollar offer on the table from a team in the Russian Super League. Yesterday afternoon one of the TV commentators on NBC said that Jagr wants to play 4 more years but he didn't specifically say the NHL. Nobody is really sure what Jagr's future holds. No doubt there will be interested NHL teams out there. Afterall he still put up 71 points last season.

Would Howson and the Jackets be intersted? For the right price sure but at this stage in Jagr's career he wouldn't be interested in the Jackets. The Jackets also have bigger holes to fill in their lineup first but if the off season progresses and the Jackets make some moves to fill their bigger holes first and Jagr is still out there... hey, this team could look a lot more attractive and anything could happen.

Brendan Shanahan - another prolific offensive talent who is getting long in the tooth. Shanny is 39 now and has spent the past two season in NY after leaving Detroit. He still had a productive season notching 23g, 23a but is defintely slowing down. If he doesn't retire he'll likely reup with the Rangers for one more go at it.

Similar to Jagr at this point in his career the Jackets wouldn't be a team of destination. Sure we have a top six winger position available (maybe two) and Shanny could fill it but its unlikely either party would pursue the other. Howson would want to go cheaper and younger. Again though, the longer the offseason and the longer some players stay on the market you never know. Who would have thought Peca would be a Jacket this time last year. Don't count on either Shanny or Jagr though.

Martin Straka - a 35 year old center/winger UFA to be. His production also dropped off last year only notching 14g, 27a for 41p. Still Straka is quick, elusive and has always had a scoring touch. As a veteran he is good in all 3 zones but has been injury prone of late only getting into 65 games last season. He also plays hard every single shift. He scored 70+ points the previous two years. I think NY will want him back but if fellow Czech and good buddy Jagr leaves he may also chose to test the market.

I tell ya, I bet Straka is a guy Howson would prusue. I don't think he's priority #1 by any stretch should he lose out on a couple of higher tiered UFAs he could be an interesting target. Straka made 3.3 mil last year so if he would probably have to take a pay cut but I think he could help us. Of course it takes two to tango and Straka may prefer a proven winner at this stage of his career.

Sean Avery - a 28 year old UFA to be agitator/center. If the Jackets want more sandpaper well this is your guy. Avery is an underrated player b/c its always his circus act on the ice that gets the print, not his hockey skills. With Jared Boll in the lineup and guys like Dorsett and Sestito on the way Howson probably will take a pass on pursuing this guy. Plus Avery is more of a 3rd liner and we have those. Avery also seems to love the bright lights of NY and I highly doubt he'd want to settle down in a place like Columbus at this stage of his career. I think he'll re-sign in NY.

Paul Mara - a 28 year old 6'4" 219 lb defensemen who is a UFA to be. Mara has put up some decent offensive numbers especially with Phoenix when he had back to back 40+ point seasons. He has also QB'd the PP. In NY his offensive role has been reduced but he has improved his defensive game.

I really like Mara as a possibility for the Jackets. He's just now in his prime, he's big, he's mobile, he's stays relatively healthy. Unfortunately he shoots left or I'd really REALLY like him. Howson has got to have him on his list of targets. I don't see him as the solution for our #1 PP QB but Howson has stated they are after two d-men and as our second target I really think Mara could help on the blueline. I think he's an upgrade over a guy like Hainsey.

Michael Rozsival - a 29 year old defensemen who will be a UFA this summer. Rozsival has some good offensive instincts for a blueliner and has put up 38, 40, 30 over his past 3 years all while having a even or better +/-. The knock on Rozsival is that he's to soft. His game actually reminds me quite a bit of Ron Hainsey of which I'm not a fan. It appears the Rangers do not have much of an interest in re-signing him.

I'm sure Rozsival is on the Jackets' watch list but I don't think he's ahead of guys like Campbell, Redden or Liles. Quite frankly if Howson were to sign Rozsival I guess he might as well just keep Hainsey who at least knows the team, coaching staff, system and town. Rozsival's an option I think, especially if the Jackets can't land one of those other names but I can't see the Jackets going all out for his services.

The Rangers have a lot of good young players under contract that I'm if the Rags wanted to shake things up the Jackets would definitely listen. Guys like Girardi and Dubinsky were rumored to Columbus during that month or so stretch were both team's scouts might as well have bouth season tickets for in the opposing cities. Those two players have done nothing but improve since that time. I doubt they go anywhere but they would look good in the bug.

San Jose Sharks

Anything short of the Stanley Cup this year was a dissapointment for the Sharks. They had a great regular season but once again came up short in the playoff getting eliminated in 6 by the Dallas Stars.

San Jose is one of those teams where I can see a major shake up occuring. They have made the playoffs the past 4 years and have been considered Stanley Cup favorites only to fizzle out. 3 out of the past 4 seasons they have been ousted in round 2.

Management has went for it as well making big moves over the past couple of deadlines to bolster their lineup for a Cup run. Craig Rivet last year and Brian Campbell this year each cost them 1st round picks and in Campbell's case as young roster player in Jonathan Bernier as well.

They have some questions surrounding the future of Patrick Marleau who is their captain and their head coach Ron Wilson has just ended his 4th season behind the bench and seems to be wearing out his welcome.

They have 12 players signed for 36 million next season with some keys UFAs and RFAs to lock up. They are a team that won't touch the cap as they operate on a budget so there will be some decisions to make.

Also something else to note is that San Jose does not have a draft pick in the first 3 rounds of this year's draft. The Jackets have 9 picks (just throwing that out there!).

Lets take a look at some of their intriguing players:

Partick Marleau - Marleau is no stranger to CBJ fans as his name has popped up in numerous trade rumors this past year as the club tries to fill that vacant #1 center position. Marleau is 28 and is signed for 2 more seasons at 6.3 mil per. What interseting about Marleau is that he has a no trade clause that kicks in July 1st so if the Sharks want to move him they have to do it before then.

Marleau's year wasn't the best. He has been thrown under the bus by his head coach in Wilson the past two seasons. He only notched 48 points through 78 games but had a decent playoff scoring 4g, 4a for 8 points in 13 games. He is a legit 1st line center in this league whose biggest draw back is inconsistancy.

Think Howson is interested? You bet your ass he is. When prompted about Marleau Howson has been coy and said "he can't comment on it". Translation - he is an option and IMO he will pursue him this offseason. Now pursuing and landing are two completely different things. Many teams need a #1 center so if San Jose does put out a "Patrick Marleau For Sale" sign it will be interesting to see what offers come their way. The Jackets have the assests to make a juicy offer but no telling how much Howson is willing to pay. Keep you eye on this one.

Brian Campbell - a 29 year old offensive dynamo defensemen who is slated to be a UFA come July 1st. Campbell will be the big catch defensively if the Sharks can't get him resigned. He scored 8g, 54a for 62p in 83gp and was also a +8. This guy would solve our PPQB problems. He is however only average defensively and isn't the bigget guy in the world so he can get pushed off pucks. No doubt San Jose will try to lock him down but reading some Shark fan reactions many are on the bubble as to whether he is worth the 6+ mil price tag he's most certainly going to command.

Lets just cut to the chase. Howson would love to land this guy. I bet he would offer 6+ mil for 6 or 7 years. Yes he's got some flaws but surround him with good quality shutdown d-men and your offensive problems from the blueline are WELL on their way to getting solved. If Campbell test free agency look for a big fat juicy offer from the Jackets. The only question will be would if Brian was interested in coming here -- the Jackets would have to overpay in price and term to convince him so.

Jody Shelley - god love him and I'm sure a lot of Jacket fans out there would love to have him back but I think his days in Columbus are over until retirement. Jody has a lot of good years left in him and if San Jose doesn't re-sign he'll most certainly catch on with another team.

Jeremy Roenick - believe it or not the 38 year old UFA to be had somewhat of a resurection last year notching 14g and 19a for 33p in 69gp. Roenick of course is no longer the impact player he used to be but has carved out a niche for himself as a depth player that can be worked in where ever you'd like him. Roenick was a bargain last year at 500k and my guess is that he at least has another year in front of him, most likely staying with the Sharks.

Definitely not a guy Howson would have any interest in but Roenick was a good story. The rediculous thing is that Roenick's 14 goals would have been good for tied for 3rd in team scoring with Jason Chimera (my do we need an influx of offense!) on the Jackets.

Joe Pavelski - a 23 year old center who is an RFA this year. Pavelski was a steal in the 7th round of the draft and should Partick Marleau be dealt this kid has the ability to step right in and be a 2nd line center for the Sharks. He had 19g, 21a in his first full season in the NHL. Lots of teams would love to get a guy like this.

Should San Jose have a hard time signing him or if they want a shakeup Pavelski would certainly be a valuable trading chip. Should offer sheets become the new trend then certainly a lot of teams would look into a guy like Pavelski including Howson.

Those are the main pieces for the Sharks. I see them keeping one of Marleau or Campbell but not both. They do however have some interesting complimentatry players that need new contracts like Ryan Clowe and Christian Erhoff. I can't see them parting with their core like Thorton, Michalek, Rivet, Carle, Cheechoo or Nabakov.

So there you have it. I see Howson most interested in Campbell and Marleau and actually there is a better than average chance one of them is a Blue Jackets come camp. New York has some interesting options on defense in Mara or Rozsival that could also be pursued if Howson strikes out on some of his other options further up the list.


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