directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Blue biscuits

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Friday, July 11, 2008

Blue biscuits

The Continental Hockey League scored a big name today signing Predators star Alexader Radulov to a three contract:

"I had a brilliant season in Nashville, so I don’t see any reasons to regret that I didn’t move to Ufa last summer."

"As for my choice I wanted to play in a strong club, which claim to hold the leading positions in the championship."

"Moreover they will perform in the Champions League, I heard about club’s powerful infrastructure, so it would be silly to reject their offer."

"I signed a three-year contract and I don’t think about my departure. My mind is occupied with thoughts about my career in Salavat Yulaev."

"First of all I wanted to play in my home country, and secondly the contract terms turned to be more attractive than in NHL."

"I told about that not once, and the NHL club made no attempts to keep me in the squad. It seems that they don't want me to stay or probably they didn't think i would quit the team."

"I will start pre-season preparations in Ufa next Wednesday."

This comes the same day as the report came that the NHL and the new KHL had reached an agreement not to poach players under contract from other leagues. The problem is there is no written agreement just an understanding at this point.

Of course Radulov is under contract with the Predators so he is basically doing what Svitov did last season and choosing to play elsewhere. The NHL is powerless to stop him as there is no written transfer agreement in place. Now how the KHL reacts to this signing (i.e. whether or not they void it to keep this peace) will be an interesting story to follow.

Now all that said I'm glad its happening to Nashville as that is a huge hit to their top 6 but I can sympothize because we have with Svitov and could quickly again find ourselves in a similar situation down the road with a Tyutin, Filatov or Mayorov.

Apparently Rene Fasel who is the President of the IIHF has said that any federation that violates an existing contract would be barred from the Olympics. In this case clearly that has happened but its yet to be seen if that will actually occur to Russia.

Until the NHL and Russia hammer out some kind of agreement its a risk any NHL team will take when they sign or draft Russian players and that risk only increases as/if they become a key memeber of your team.

For a team like the Jackets who have a real hard time mining top end talent that could eventually become a serious blow if say a Filatov does develop into a top line stud only to be offered millions by the KHL and leave at his own accord in a few years time.

Now if only Datsyuk would bolt for Russia.

Good read here on about Umberger and his new contract. Some great quotes like:
"It's always a shock when a trade occurs and I knew there were problems with the salary cap situation in Philly, so something had to happen," Umberger said. "My family was pretty excited because they realize Columbus is actually two hours closer to Pittsburgh. So they'll have an opportunity to get to home games more often. I think the biggest adjustment for me will be the travel since it was pretty easy in Philly on the East Coast. I'll have to get used to going out west a lot more, so that'll be the biggest challenge for me, being physically and mentally prepared."

"There's definitely some upside in Columbus because the organization has made a lot of good acquisitions the past few weeks and is committed to winning and getting into the playoffs," Umberger said. "I'm excited to be a part of that."

"It doesn't really matter to me whether I'm wing or center, but, in the long run, I see myself playing center," Umberger said. "That's where I've been my entire career, so I'm excited to get the chance to play there, but I'm also capable of playing both wings with the left being a little easier.

"If given an opportunity to play with (Rick) Nash, that'll be something," he confessed. "He's a great player and, hopefully, we'll be able to jell together quickly."

The Vancouver Province had this to say about the Jackets offseason thus far:

The perennial doormats added top-nine forwards Kristian Huselius, R.J. Umberger and Torres, top prospect Nikita Filatov, and rebuilt their back end with Mike Commodore, Fydor Tyutin and Christian Backman. They lost top-four defenceman Ron Hainsey, perpetual headache Nikolai Zherdev and Dan Fritsche, but, overall, there is reason for optimism.

Also a good read here about Jackets moves:

Columbus traded maddeningly inconsistent yet talented right winger Nikolai Zherdev and center Dan Fritsche to the Rangers in exchange for defensemen Fedor Tyutin and Christian Backman. The Jackets also signed free agent left winger Kristian Huselius, who last suited up for the Flames.

In moving Zherdev, the Jackets rid themselves of a player whose numbers ping-ponged from good to bad every season and was a consistent threat to go home and play for a bigger Russian contract.

The right winger compiled a career-high 61 points this season, but his trend of scoring has been dizzying: He had just 32 points the year prior after notching 54 as a sophomore and 34 as a rookie.

With Gilbert Brule having been traded a couple of days ago, GM Scott Howson has now moved two of ex-GM Doug MacLean’s first round picks, both of whom have had troubling and disappointing careers to date.

In return for Zherdev and Fritsche, a solid third-liner, the Jackets beefed up their blueline with Tyutin and Backman. Tyutin can play major minutes and will likely be on the top pairing in Columbus. Backman was a disaster in his short time on Broadway after being acquired from St. Louis at the trade deadline, but has played well in the past, so Columbus offers him a fresh start.

The Jackets defense corps is now huge. Six of their top blueliners average 6-foot-3 and 212 pounds while the seventh, Kris Russell (5-foot-10, 177 pounds), is the puck-mover and power play specialist. Other than Russell, the ‘D’ isn’t going to win a lot of footraces, but they can sure put the hurt on opponents.

In Huselius, the Jackets get a player who comes with fewer headaches (assuming Mike Keenan isn’t around) and whose offensive numbers surpass Zherdev’s. Columbus is still without a first-line center right now, but with talent such as Huselius, Rick Nash, R.J. Umberger and Fredrik Modin on the wings and youngsters Jakub Voracek, Derrick Brassard and Nikita Filatov on the horizon, things are looking up in Ohio.

Of cousre we all know that RJ will be playing center for the Jackets but nice to read some positive spin (besides my own!) on Howson's moves this summer.

I thought this was a very interesting nugget from Bob Hunter's "rumblings" this morning:

The article also was accompanied by an NHL chart that showed last season's Blue Jackets with the second-largest payroll imbalance, behind only the New York Rangers. The Jackets spent 67.93 percent of payroll on offense, which seems hard to believe given how much trouble the team had scoring.

The Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings were one of only three NHL teams that spent more on defense (52.82 percent) than offense.

So of course this got me thinking. Looked at the "expected" lineup assuming no more major moves this is the breakdown from offense to defense:

Defense (inluding goalies) - 19.825
Offense - 28.51

*note* even though not signed I took a liberty and included Leclaire in the "Defense" for 4.0 mil.

So with a payroll of 48.335 the Jackets have 59% committed to offense and 41% committed to defense. That is a little better but its offset as they don't have a top end money maker back there.

Update: Even more on the Filatov situation here from the Globe & Mail:

The Filatov issue is the most intriguing, however, given how clear he made it at the draft that his priority was playing in the NHL as soon as possible. That, in turn, coaxed the Blue Jackets into selecting him with the sixth overall choice — this, a year after the NHL en masse shied away from Russian teenagers, fearing that they couldn't convince them to come to North America anytime in the near future and that they might be wasting a pick. In fact, just the opposite seems to be happening.

The really high-end young Russians all seem to want to come. In Columbus's case, it isn't just Filatov either. They also had Maxim Mayorov at their rookie camp this past week. On talent alone, Mayorov should have gone in the first round in 2007. The Blue Jackets got him at No. 94, a steal on the basis of his ability level, but the sort of gamble that only a few teams were prepared to make in a year when only eight Russians were selected in a 211-player draft.

Mayorov intends to stay in North America for the rest of the summer, so he can adjust to the lifestyle and the language — and if he doesn't make Columbus outright this fall, he will be prepared for a minor-league apprenticeship.

Geeeeze... how messy is this thing going to get is the question at this point? I'm convinced Filatov wants out and will do anything it takes to come to the NHL (now after his first rookie contract is up it could get intersting -- things change quickly remember that).

I am however not really interested in seeing this dragged out into another 'Z' type fiasco but I think this may be on a crash course to that.

Right now Filatov is a pawn for the Russians and the NHL. Stay tuned as this story won't be going away anytime soon.



tom said...

That would be 41% on defense.

LTL said...

Ha. Nice catch Tom. There was a reason I didn't major in Math.

Corrected now. Thx.


wizworm said...

I'm confused by this whole transfer thing. I've read on a few sites that if a player breaks a contract to sign with a Russian team HE isn't eligable to play in international tournements. I've also read on sites (like LTL pointed out) that the TEAM isn't eligable. Anyone have any more info on this? Is it just Radulov in this case who couldn't compete or would it be the entire Russian team?

Max said...

Bye-Bye Radulov! Oh those tricky Russians. Russia has no legal beef with Filatov. He's done everything he's had to. It amazes me how driven this kid is to get to Columbus. Surely he has to know we've sucked. But yet he's fully commited to this team, and he just signed a contract yesterday. I'm very excited for this season. Maybe we'll be the new Russian powerhouse

LTL said...

wizworm - I got the impression from the IIHF President that in the case of the Olympics its the actual country the player is from that is a penalized.

Then again this thing is like Ohio weather -- if you don't like it, wait a minute :)


DJ Davy B said...

A great read here about Konokpka.

markislander said...

I say let all the Russians go back gives our Canadians and American boys a shot at making the NHL.I do like there talant but would not hert me to see them leave. Remember this is our sport.