directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Any more moves?

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Monday, July 28, 2008

Any more moves?

46 days and counting until training camp opens for rookies on September 12th. Does Howson have anything left up his sleeve?

The biggest move left to make is getting Pascal Leclaire locked down. Reading into some of Don Meehan's (Leclaire's agent) comments in the Dipsatch on Saturday I really think that may happen sometime over the next week or two. The Jackets made a counter and both sides are expected to get together tomorrow to discuss it.

The other big story will be Nikita Filatov. According to his latest blog he is still expecting to be in the North America sometime in August. Right now its all about getting his US work visa.

Other than that though I would expect things to remain relatively quiet until camp ramps up in September.

Never say never though as the Mike York signing last week would attest. If there is a deal out there that makes sense then Howson will pounce. I don't think he's actively pursuing a trade right now though. I really think he wants to see what he's got in camp and then move on from there.

Hard to fault him as even though he hasn't necessarily grabbed that big #1 center headline grabber most hoped he would he has still drastically altered the shape of this roster with big young close-to or in-their-prime players who will compete night and night out.

He's also built up some reliable depth so when the injury bug does strike (and we know it will) Hitch will have some reliable NHLers to fall back on to get them over the hump. Jason Chimera or Manny Malhotra should not see consistent time on the top two lines this season for example. That's not a knock on those two players as they are solid in their checking line and PK roles but instead its a sign of the depth Howson has built.

There are some risks - and every NHL lineup has them sans those damn Wings - with ours being Derick Brassard as a top 6 center. Should he get injured or show he's not ready Howson may have to act. He's got Peca/York/Malhotra/Novonty/Murray/MacKenzie/Kelly/MacDonald as depth down the middle but while that may be good enough to get us through a short term injury it may not be enough should Brassard not show he's able to produce at this level.

Not to worry though as I'm sure I'll come up with plenty of stuff to blab on about until the real fun starts.



Erik said...


I couldn’t agree more with your article. This looks like this will be your 08/09 jackets.
I think the chances of another deal are really slim unless an opportunity presents itself, besides that I think this is a done deal. Regarding Filatov, as soon as his Visa is done he is on a plane to Columbus. I expect him to be here a couple of weeks before training camp. Brassard will step up, he is desperately needed and I think he will do a decent enough job. Also a key advantage is that Modin and Torres/Voracek/Chimera will be his line mates. I think Pascal will get signed tomorrow, that’s what it sounds like to me..

Anyways, looking at the roster the only locks I see for top 4 offensively are Nash, Umberger, Huselius and Modin on the second line. The remaining 8 spots are up for grabs, of course I hope Brassard gets the 2nd line center spot… but who knows. I really think Hitch will let Torres, Brassard, Peca, Chimera, Malhotra, Novotny, Boll, Murray, York, Sestito, Voracek and Filatov earn their spots… That’s 12 guys competing for 8 spots… and I might be missing some young and upcoming talent.

Defense will be more of a lock because of contracts which pretty much dictates Commodore, Tyutin, Hejda, Klesla and Backman are a lock.. But the remaining spot is going to be a good fight for Russel, OKT, Rome, Method and possibly Wilson.

In either case this is the most talent and depth we have had so far.. very exciting..

Does anyone have some info on possible tv/radio coverage of the pre-season games??

LTL said...

Erik - good post.

I don't have any info yet on radio/tv of pre-season games. I know traditionally in the past they've televised at least one pre-season game but that didn't happen last year due to a conflict with the Reds on FSN Ohio. I know that most if not all the games are at least broadcast on the radio. It would be sweet if picked up some of the preseason games.

I like your post about the lineup. Its fun to take a stab at the roster but you really nailed how competitive it should be for spots this season.


Max said...

I'm pretty sure CD101 broadcasts every game period. Pre season included. As for TV, FSN is far less reliable... I'm excited to see what these guys can do. I want it to be hockey season NOW

Erik said...

The Vermette dilemma keeps dragging on, according to the THN:

“It’s a different story for Vermette, however, as reports Ottawa suggest the two are certain to go to arbitration.

Vermette remains a hot topic of trade rumors. The Ottawa Sun reported he could be peddled to the Vancouver Canucks for former Senators defenseman Sami Salo, but given Salo’s no-trade clause that deal appears unlikely.

Apparently the problem for Senators GM Bryan Murray is fitting Vermette’s new contract (which could be around $3 million) and defenseman Andrej Meszaros’s under his salary cap while still making room for a puck-moving blueliner and a scoring winger for the second line.

Should Vermette be awarded a raise from the arbiter for next season, it remains to be seen if Murray will move him. Although, despite unsupported rumors claiming the winger wants out, it’s possible he and his agent could attempt to work out an extension with Murray in the new year.

If there’s a chance something can be worked out, Murray could retain Vermette and consider other options.”

I still think he would make a good Blue Jacket, personally I consider the chances of this happening slim to none…. But he would make a nice 2nd line center…

I am with you MAX let the hockey season start already… I am way too excited for my own good…

Erik said...

Finally some postive coverage from


So despite the constant rumours of Columbus trying to land that big number one centre over the past months and beyond, the Jackets are still sitting without a proven guy down the middle as the calendar nears August.

So when in doubt, switch to Plan B.

The Columbus Dispatch says that when Blue Jackets training camp opens for veterans Sept. 19, R.J. Umberger will be the leading candidate to play next to stud power forward Rick Nash on the No. 1 line.

It's a spot the 26-year-old would like to call home.

"An opportunity like that is something you dream about," Umberger said. "It's what I've always wanted and it's what I was in the playoffs trying to earn (this spring with the Philadelphia Flyers).

"I'm coming to camp willing to take what they give me, but I'm ready to earn my spot. I want to show them I can be a strong two-way player, a guy who helps out my wingers and makes them better."

If you followed the Flyers at all last year you know that Umberger rarely suited up as a centre, despite the fact that it’s his natural position. But with Daniel Briere signed and the emergence of both Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, it was fairly obvious it was the wing where he’d have to earn a living in ’07-8.

"The Flyers had their pecking order," Umberger said. "I was looking for more opportunity. I adapted to the wing because I had to.

"I'm excited to see what I can do with a full-time opportunity as a scoring-line center."

The Pittsburgh-born forward is coming off a season that easily set a career high in points (50 compared with 38 in his rookie year) and assists (37 to 18 in that same rookie season). He also had 15 points in 17 playoff games for the Flyers and his regular season +/- jumped from a horrid -32 in ’06-7 to dead even in ’07-8. The +/- stat is just as much of a reflection in how dramatically the team turned around, but he still played a part in that change.

So can Umberger make the jump to a legit number one pivot? Maybe. The best part is that he’ll come dirt cheap in your league at the draft this fall and if you need some depth in the forward ranks, what have you got to lose?

It’s entirely possible GM Scott Howson will get a trade done between now and camp, but as it sits today how could you not want to take a chance on a guy that seems ready to bust out and will be playing with one of the best young wingers in the game today?

"I had 37 assists for a reason," Umberger said. "We're both big guys who can move really well, so guys won't key on Rick so much.

"I can see the ice pretty good. I've always loved passing the puck."

For what it’s worth, Ken Hitchcock thinks it can work.

"(Nash) needs somebody to transport the puck through the neutral zone," Hitchcock said. "He needs somebody who can draw some of the attention away and help him create more scoring chances."

If Umberger can be that guy he’ll turn into one of the fantasy steals of the season.

A second line assignment wouldn’t be nearly as attractive, although that’ll partially depend on how Hitch works the lines. Kristian Huselius would theoretically be the L2 LW with Nash on L1, but who’s to say that Huselius won’t be used on the right side at times on a super-charged line of Nash-Umberger-Huselius?

How well Nikita Filatov fits into the equation will also certainly play a part. Is he ready for a top six role in his rookie season? Will Hitch use him at centre despite the fact that he’s normally a LW; something he has intimated since the draft?

Can Raffi Torres prove himself in a second line role, or will he be on L3? Will Mike Peca be used in a scoring role on L2, or more of a checking presence on L3?

There are really more questions than answers at this point, although one thing is clear – the Jackets have more offensive options heading into ’08-9 than they did at this point last year, despite trading away Nik Zherdev to the Rangers.

Take that combination with the defensive magic their coach has worked on this team and Columbus should be in a legitimate position to vie for one of the final coveted playoff spots in the West as the season winds down. "

LTL said...

Great read Erik.. I'll point that article out on a future post.



Anonymous said...

Nice post both LTL and Erik. Seems like that guy who posted that re: fantasy hockey is actually paying attention and doing some research.

I noticed one of your earlier posts, erik, about how tired you are of reading some of the crap the media spews out. Join the club. I am to the point where I rarely read anything anymore and when I do read some of the stuff, I get ill with how under-researched their work is.

It seems like it doesn't matter how much evidence you can provide to the contrary, the media still spouts out the same garbage.

One of their favorites is: Hitchcock is a defensive minded coach. Yes sure, any responsible, quality coach in this league will put a premium on defending their own end. However, what they fail to recognize is that he wants EVERY player to be a two-way player. Scorers need to check and checkers need to score in his world. A one-dimensional guy doesn't cut it on one of his teams, and you better work your arse of two become whatever you are not!

Also, all of his teams in philly finished in the top 10 in goals for as well as their defensive numbers were in the top half of the league. I couldn't find the stats on his dallas teams, but it wouldn't surprise me to see the same. He also set records for offensive numbers when he coached in junior. This is just one specific example of how the media perpetuates crap without doing their homework.

The fact that the jackets added scoring this off season doesn't register to people. All they see is that we let 26 goals go in Zherdev, therefore, we will continue to struggle to have enough offense to get to the playoffs. Nevermind that we bolstered our d, added a puck mover in Backman and a solid 2-way defender in Tyutin--that doesn't compute with these guys. Makes me ill--I am sure you have gathered that by now haha /rant :)

The guy who did this article deserves some props is all I'm sayin'

It is another reason I read LTL--he does all the leg-work for me and only posts things that are relevant or seem legit!

Erik said...

Very nice post Anonymous,

I completely agree with your assessment. I personally think that the majority of Hockey writers focus predominantly on the eastern conference, and when they do follow the western conference they merely follow the big boys (Dallas, Detroit, SJ and Anaheim and the Northwestern Conference). Just looking at the western conference this year it is going to be a battle for the playoffs even more then last season.. If we assume that the top 4 is pretty much penciled in with Detroit, Dallas, SJ and Anaheim… we have slots 5 through 8 left. This is where it becomes more and more interesting… The top half of that group such as the Wild and Avalanche look weaker then last year while the bottom half with teams such as the CBJ, Hawks and Coyotes look stronger then last year.. I think all predictions can be wiped of the table because it is going to be a battle. Include the improved schedule that features less western conference play and I think this might be the nastiest western conference fight we have seen in a long time.. Why can’t the CBJ be in the Eastern conference ???? (This is merely a reference to the observation that there is less parity in the East vs. the West, the East still has topnotch teams however they do have some really poor teams as well.. not pointing any fingers Atlanta)

3 y - Minnesota Wild 98
5 x - Dallas Stars 97
6 x - Colorado Avalanche 95
7 x - Calgary Flames 94
8 x - Nashville Predators 91
9 Edmonton Oilers 88
10 Chicago Blackhawks 88
11 Vancouver Canucks 88
12 Phoenix Coyotes 83
13 Columbus Blue Jackets 80
14 St Louis Blues 79

LTL said...

Erik - I'm usually pretty good at digging this kind of stuff up but I can't find that Umberger story on -- do you have a link so that I can include in a post today?



Erik said...


There are 3 parts to this story, Umberger is the middle section...

Erik said...


The dispatch is reporting:

"Apparently, Nick Kypreos reported on Sportsnet last night that the Blue Jackets were going to trade defenseman Jan Hejda and a fourth-round pick to the Flyers for winger Mike Knuble.

This is ridiculous. This is crazy. This will not happen. Not a chance.

-- Aaron Portzline
aportzline@dispatch." has the following info on KNUBLE

Scouting Report


Does his best work along the boards. Is a capable penalty-killer and checker, and is extremely durable. Can score goals in bunches.


Has to work extra hard for his goals, since he lacks top-end talent. Must prove he can score without elite playmakers around him.

Career potential

Top six winger.

Normally I would say no way. But for some reason we keep getting people that somehow have had a previous relation with either Hitch or Howsen... I would say very unlikely... considering is potential, age and salary...

Erik said...

Regarding KNUBLE, it sounds like the Hejda and the 4th pick for Knuble… is a proposal that the Flyers have send over to Howsen. This really isn’t a great deal for the CBJ as I predict Hedja to be a top 4 D for us…

Since Philly is having some Cap issues, I hope Howsen responds with a Method/or any other Syracuse D-man and a 4th pick?? What do you guys think???

Do we really want an experienced forward that is 36 years old?? Would he add anything to the CBJ??? My feelings are mixed on this one. Knuble would add experience and depth, but how much is left in the tank.. ??

LTL said...

Interesting Erik... thanks for pointing that out. I'll post some thoughts on that rumored proposal later today but in short I have to agree with Portzline -- not a chance the CBJ bite on that one.


Erik said...

As far as rumors go.. the only thing that is certain is that Philly is shopping around Knuble… everything else is murky at best….

Anonymous said...

erik-This 'deal' is bogus. If Kypreos is going to throw crap at the wall, why wouldn't he at least throw something that might make a bit of sense like Carter (a center).

I know for a fact that this deal will not happen. Plus, Knuble is on his last leg and can hardly move anymore.