directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Predicting Howson's next move

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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Predicting Howson's next move

Now that the Hejda domino has fallen what is Howson's next move? I don't think it will be a trade as from what I understand trades are not permitted until after the Stanley Cup playoffs conclude - the league doesn't want any of the attention being taken away from its championship - which I can understand.

There are a number of other possibilities though.

1. There are the few remaining UFAs out there that could be resigned. Ron Hainsey, Michael Peca, Dick Tarnstrom & David Vyborny.

2. Of course there are the three key RFAs in Pascal Leclaire, Dan Fritsche and Aaron Rome that need to be re-signed.

3. We can't forget about the Crunchies they have a number of players who are still competing in the Calder Cup playoffs. Konopka and Mackenzie are UFAs to be. Methot, Picard, Lindstrom and Wilson all have to be qualified or re-signed.

4. Any buyouts? Duvie Westcott seems to be a prime candidate.

5. Signing Hitch to a contract extension. It should be priority #1 but will it wait until after the World Championships conclude or even later?

6. Any European players interest the Jackets? What about Svitov and Mozyakin - any chance Howson will get them (or want them) to cross the pond?

7. Draft, trades & free agency. You know some moves will be made here but I can't see Howson just sitting on his hands until those those things are allowed to happen from a calendar point of view.

So what's the next move?

As mentioned I will rule out trades, the draft and free agency. Just to far away until those things can happen.

I'm also going to rule out signing any more UFAs. No Hainsey, no Peca and Vybes and Tarnstrom have already bolted back to Europe so we know they won't be back. I won't completely rule out Howson eventually signing either Hainsey or Peca but I just don't think its the next move he makes for 1. I'm not sure he knows if he wants them back and 2. I'm sure Hainsey or Peca want to be back.

I think Leclaire gets resigned but I think its going to take some time because it could get tricky. Leclaire was in the top 10 of every major statistical category except for wins. However he struggled a bit in the second half and there is where the hang up could come from. Leclaire's agent will obviously be looking for Lelcaire to get paid like a top 10 goalie where Howson will bulk for a number of reasons including the fact that 1. he's only done it for a year 2. his second half stats weren't top 10 material and 3. he once again got injured.

Fritsche is a guy I could see going either way. We know his uncle/agent and MacLean had a rocky negotiation last time through and it seems Fritsche thinks his game is more than it is right now. Will that stance change under Howson? He'll at least get get qualified and eventually signed (or traded) but I doubt its Howson's next move.

Aaron Rome to me is a slam dunk *if* Howson wants to give him a 1-way deal which I think he will considering he didnt' want to send him through waivers back down to Syracuse after the Jackets season ended for fear he may get claimed. I think this will be an easy negotiation and its just a matter of when Howson will get to it.

Syracuse RFAs. I see all of these players getting resigned once Syracuse's season ends. Methot, Wilson, Picard will be slam dunks. Lindstrom may be the most difficult as he will want a 1 way deal and may hold out a little to try to get it - which he won't. This really depends on how long Syracuse stays in the playoffs as to when Howson starts on this group.

Syracuse UFAs. I think Howson would want to resign Konopka and MacKenzie but both of those players may hold off and see if they can find a situation that improves their chances at landing a full time spot in the NHL. I think 1 or both will be back but it may take some time and will probably go into the free agency period which starts July 1st.

Westcott buyout. I think this is a given but there is a certain window that players can be bought out and I believe that is the last week of June or maybe sometime in July. I think something will happen before that point.

Svitov and Mozyakin. Svitov is already signed but there could be an announcement made that he will rejoin the team which I will consider a move (and that would also mark the end to Peca's career as a Jacket). Mozyakin is still Jackets property but isn't signed. I think Hitch/Howson would like to have this guy come over but to do so would require a 1-way deal and I don't think they are prepared to do that. I also don't think Mozyakin wants to come over. He likes it at home playing in the RSL.

Euro free agents. I've read that the Jackets are hard after a Euro and it isn't Bruunstromm. If they can land the guy they want this could very well be Howson's next move.

Hitch. I *wish* this was Howson's next move. Unfortunately it probably won't be as Hitch may hold off until he sees what happens at the draft and UFA especially if they are talking long term. I certainly hope neither party wants to work off a 1 year extension. This guy wants to win but needs some horses to help him get there.

So what will it be?

Its a close race between getting Rome re-signed and if Howson can get the Euro he's after to sign with the Jackets. It wouldn't surprise me either if Hitch is extended before any *major* moves occur.

I think Howson misses out on the Euro so my prediction is that Aaron Rome will be Howson next move and will be re-signed to a 2 year 1.2 million dollar deal.

Discuss - any other predictions on Howson's next move out there?


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