directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Howson done shopping for summer and more

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Monday, August 11, 2008

Howson done shopping for summer and more

A bit of old news to alot of you I'm sure but in a recent Puck-rakers blog GM Scott Howson basically said that he is done shopping for the summer:

"We are likely done adding NHL caliber roster players until we get through training camp and get a better feel where some of our young players are with respect to being ready to contribute at the NHL level. If possible, I believe that a NHL team should not operate close to the cap. You need flexibility to deal with injuries and opportunities that may arise. It is very quiet right now as it usually is in August but we are ready for any opportunities that may come our way."

Aboslutley no surprise there and the "likely done" line leaves the window open should something fall into his lap.

As is stands the Jackets have their 2008-2009 roster pretty much set until camp where he and his staff will watch to see how things shake out in terms of roster battles and how some of the young guns perform.

In terms of young guns on offense I think both Voracek & Brassard are locks. I think Dorsett and Sestito will both make strong cases but ultimately end up in Syracuse but will see plenty of games up with the big team when injuries strike. Adam Pineault is another guy who I think is close but will most likely start the year down in the 'A' but should see more call ups this year assuming he continues to progress his game.

A guy I'm not quite sure about is Mayorov. I haven't heard an announcement on his status in terms of a contract signing or if he is planning on staying in North America. If he does stay I definitely see him starting the year in Syracuse.

Then we have the wild card in Filatov. If he's as good as they say then I think he is going to be the hardest decision for the CBJ brass to make in camp.

On defense I think Kris Russell is a lock for the team. Howson was asked about Russell's performance in that same blog post and this was his response:

"I have no doubt that Kris Russell is better off today having the experience of playing in the NHL last year as opposed to playing in Syracuse. The NHL is a very tough league for young defensemen and we were all proud of the way Kris handled himself last year after earning his way onto the team. I told him at the end of the season he should be proud of playing a full year in the league as a 20-year-old and the struggles he went through were very typical for someone his age at that position."

Howson is absolutely 100% correct in his assessment. I think people forget how hard it is to step into the NHL straight from junior and play a full 82 game season for a young defensemen. Sure he struggled his share last year but that is to be exepected. By all account Russell has bulked up some 10 lbs in the offseason and I fully expect him to not only make this team but to become a key contributor -- especially on the powerplay.

Grant Clitsome is another guy that I think we all need to keep our eyes on. He's certainly got an uphill battle to make the team this year but if he plays against NHLers with the same poise and puck smarts that he's shown in every camp he's been in than he could find himself in a CBJ sweater sooner rather than later.

Rome, Methot, Sigalet and Holden will all be looking to compete for spots as well. In fact when its all said and done the Jackets could end up losing Methot or Rome on waivers as there are only so many spots on the team and somebody is going to have to get sent down.

Blogger James Mirtle predicts the Jackets to miss the playoffs yet again.

To make the playoffs, Columbus likely needs 70-point seasons out of Nash and Huselius, at least 60 from Umberger, and capable second-line performances from Modin, Brassard and either Torres or Voracek.

They're going to be low scoring and difficult to score against, but a playoff team?

Not yet. And it'll be interesting to see what happens at the gate in this go 'round.

He does make an interesting point about goal scoring:

But what Columbus really needs is some goals. They always have.

Blue Jackets finish in goals for
2000-01: 26th
2001-02: 30th
2002-03: 16th
2003-04: 29th
2005-06: 28th
2006-07: 28th
2007-08: 29th

That is horrible. Columbus has averaged 2.34 goals per game in its history, which is quite likely the lowest average on record.

There is no doubt about it that Columbus has to score more goals. I think their defense will be even better than last season but they are going to need more contribution offensively and healthy seasons from guys like Modin and Torres.

As I've been saying in this space for a while now at least one of Brassard/Voracek/Filatov has to break out for this team to have enough firepower up front to get to the post season.

Now this blogger thinks the Jackets will finish 2nd in the division:

The Columbus Blue Jackets have the pieces in place to put together a dynamic offense, capable of getting a big enough lead for Pascal Leclaire and the defense to hold—as they proved last year it’s just building that lead.

This year they’ll be able to do that. Maybe not early on, but I can see Columbus with a realistic shot at the playoffs this season.

As Erik posted in the comments it seems the Jackets are on the bubble either way which would translate that even though its early a lot of folks seem to think this team will be in the mix next season.

There is some additional information regarding the deal NHL cable partner Versus completed with the Indy Racing League. The deal is for a reported 60 miullion dollars over a 10 year period and similar to what they've done for the NHL they have promised additional coverage, specialty shows and a "robust" promotional package.

Again this is all good signs for the NHL as this kind of term shows that Versus has no plans to go anywhere anytime soon.

Reading reader comments from this article many racing fans aren't very happy about the move. In fact its very similar knee jery reactions that we heard from a lot of NHL fans when the NHL announced they were moving to Versus with exposure, programming and a footprint concerns.

However some fans are already "getting it" that Versus, again similar to how they treat the NHL, will give the series plenty of attention and unique programming and won't get lost in the shuffle over at ESPN. What I think they'll also find is that ratings aren't going to be nearly as affected as they think and that this channel is going to do nothing but grow over the lifespan of that contract as will the IRL's expsure.

So who else has seen the new Rick Nash Time Warner commercial? Its cheesy of course but its good to see a company the size of Time Warner using the Jackets and its star as a spokesman for a good cause like Adult Literacy.....and its always good to see some hockey exposure over the summer in this market.

The Jackets web site also has a entry up about it.

Not much else going on out there. August is going to be a very quite month as team and league execs take a break and players start gearing up for camp.

32 days til the start of rookie camp!!



Tom said...

Again, Howson demonstrates that he's not stupid. He knows where we're at and what we need to do to get to where the CBJ wants to go. He never leaves a door closed (at least publicly) and appreciates that different players develop in different ways (read: the Syracuse crew v. Kris Russel in C'bus). After the knee-jerk nuttiness of past management, Howson is exactly what this team needs.

The other great part of his interview was that he understood the value of having the team represent components of a coach's system - not the coach changing his system to meet the talent at hand. If Bill Walsh, George Seifert and the San Francisco 49'ers taught professional sports anything, it's that you embrace the vision and find players to make the vision a reality. That's what Howson is doing with Hitch's vision. Yeah, it's different than what Detroit does...and that's OK.

We're going to be a fun team to watch this year.

Erik said...


I agree Howsen has made some solid moves. I could be wrong, but it looks like the only flurry of activity will be when Sudin makes a decision.. Once that occurs look for some teams to make some silly moves.. The rumor is that 6 teams are keeping their options open depending on what Sudin does... Let's hope the Jackets can potentially profit from this really weird GM-love fest for an aging veteran on the backside of his career.. I personally don't think anything of interest will pop up, but you never know.. It looks like Howsen might be browsing the bargain-basement bin a little bit more.. I have a gut feeling we will be extending 2-way deals to some veteran type players..

BTW any news on Matvicuk ??

Matt said...

It's a total pipe dream, but I'd love it if somehow Sundin did go to the Rangers and Howson could snap up Chris Drury.

In the absence of that, I think we're gonna be just fine. :D

Market Martini said...

great blog.......

Erik said...


I am with you... I can't believe the NYR are mentioned to be one of the 6.. It makes no sense, they would have to sacrifice too much.. However if there is any team splashy enough to do it.. it's the NYR... Can you imagine the frenzy that would unfold if Sudin signs with the Rangers... However it is in fact just a pipe dream... the odds are he either returns to Toronto or retires.. I can't see him moving to Vancouver or NY...

LTL said...

Thank Market..!

All, I added James Myrtle's Blue Jacket prediction to that last blog post -- so check it out as he makes an interesting point about just how bad the Jackets offense has been throughout their history.


Erik said...


Another prediction article:

So far the predictions have been the either barely make it, or they barely miss it.. So I guess we are in the middle of the fight.. not a bad spot to be in..

LTL said...

That was a solid read Erik.. I'll also add that one to the post!


mike said...

Hey, I just found this new article in Puckrakers, just explaining the new jersey #'s for the new players.