All-Blogs.net directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: 02/01/2008 - 03/01/2008

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Friday, February 29, 2008

Live bloggin - aftershock edition

HELL YES! .....night all!!

How absolutely HUGE is this win? Especially after all that transpired at the deadline? I'm tellin ya it may be the biggest win of the year....this team was so fragile....seemed so defeated against San Jose.... a win like this should get them right back on track... and it was a FULL team effort... everyone contributed tonight...

That goal seem to just come out of nowhere... I'm tellin ya... Chimera scores his best goals when he's got no time to think about it!! Sweet sweet feed by Z.... nice to see some secondary scoring step up tonight...

**END OF GAME**

HOLY SHIT!! WE WIN!!! CHIMERA FINALLY WITH GOAL!!!! Nice dish by Z... my oh my oh my oh my.... what a comeback boys!!!! what a comeback!!!!

**START OT**

3 point game but at this point I'm just estatic the boys came back from 2 down to tie this thing up and force OT... that is a BIG BIG deal right now for this squad and should be a real confidence booster... guys are even smiling a bit on the bench...

**END OF REGULATION**

Manny awesome in the circle tonight... he's had some big wins..

1 minute to go... Nash great job along the board in the defensive zone.. then getting into the o-zone and getting to that net... great 3rd by the monster..

D doing a good job keeping pucks in the zone... especially Tarnstrom.. Hainsey even doing some of it...

Faceoff won.. those little battles within a game can be all the difference..

Icing here.. withe Cans point shot this is a big faceoffs... can't let them get those rockets off...

Gonna say it now.. win or lose I'm proud of these way the team has played tonight...

3 mins to go in regulation..

Nice shift by Modin and Fritsche there... Hainsey even throwing the body around...

This Sedin line is scaring the shit out of me... Brule sighting..

Jackets keeping pressure on.. be smart boys and stay out of the box...

Not much Brule now... thought he was playing okay but Hitch goin with short bench down the stretch..

Now the Jackets are turning up heat a bit... couple of good chances... can't take any more penalties.. Cans PP is due... c'mon boys!!

Finally we get a clear... Jackets kill PK...

Leclaire there again... the Cans kill you from their points... so many hard shots and rebounds... that was a fantastic save by Leclaire... possible game saver..

Jackets catch another break... wavied off goal due to high stick.. good call there... that was definitely over the net... man.. Jackets living on the edge..

Leclaire with a nice save on the point that time... need some big face off wins here to clear the zone..

God.... Tarnstrom with a holding penalty.. my god.. that happens every play out there... Jackets PK needs to come up big here... oxygen time..

Are they calling that a goal? Jackets catch a break there.... Hainsey saves a goal.. actually that was going wide anyways... nice effort by both Leclaire and Hainsey... Jackets have to keep the pressure on..

Congrats to Nasher on his 150th...

I think they've got some editing to do on the "Carry the Flag" commerical... ole 52's mug is still dead center... time to "de-lete"..

Tarnstrom playing great but made a bad pass there that led to a 2 on 1.. Jackets survive... friggan Cans tried to take out Leclaire in the process... Chims gaving him a nice face wash for his efforts...

I haven't seen Nash all game but he's there when the team needed him there... whoooo! now stay in it Jackets.. keep the pressure on... so much for my game over prediction... haha..

OH YES!! NASHER OUT OF NOWHERE WITH A BREAKWAY AND A ROOFER!!!

Murray gets the goal... looks lik the Jackets may be going to the PP.... crap.. now Manny in the box too... I think Hitch just something along the lines of plucking bullsmits... they must have got Manny for some retaliation.. didn't show it on TV but Hitch is fired up..

SCORE!! Finally... so much for my shutout prediction.... got that nice deflected tip in.. Tarnstrom who has been great tonight.. I think he'll get credit for that one.... tons of traffic in front of Luongo.. EXACTLY what the Jackets need to do...

Rimmer sounds under the weather but he getting through it.. Vybes back out there..

Just when I was saying 13 playing well he can't receive two simple passes..

Z much better jump tonight... gets a nice one on net.. Luongo there... need a tip in or rebound goal here... would like nothing better than a dirty goal.. .

Vybes takes a shot... barely gets off the ice.. doesn't look good...

Whelp.. like a car wreck you just have to watch... maybe the Jackets will surprise us here in the 3rd... Jackets just got lucky there with H. Sedin missed the net and had Leclaire down and out...

**START OF THIRD**

Klesla now up to 17:53 seconds and leads all players in ince time... playing real solid...

To come out of that period with not only not scoring but to give up one when you dominated it is just killer.... I'll call it now.. Luongo is going to get his 2nd shutout aginst the Jackets this season...
Shots: Jackets 21 Cans 14

**END OF SECOND**

Jackets again playing well and getting pressure...but not a lot of quality chances... offense is as dry as the desert..

Tollefsen in a scrap.. hangin in there.. trading some serious blows... someone tried to take a run at Fritsche and 55 stood in there... love to see the boys still being competitive out there... those fights are exhausting just to watch.. just imagine being in one.. definitely a man's game out there..
You know one thing you hardly ever see our two big guns do is wind up for slapshots.. honestly, how ofter does Nash hit a one timer.. or Z for that matter? Modin just ripped on there..he can do it.. just an observation though..

That goal just sucked every last bit of momentum out of the Jackets...

CHRIST! ...and there is the back breaker....bad goal by from Salo from the point..he's near the blueline when he unloads that... Leclaire HAS to stop that puck... but this offense also HAS to score for once... I hate to say it but game over...

Jacket kill PK... Z with great rush... still can't put any past Luongo... man this offense sucks.. which sucks b/c they are playing so well his period..

Tolly clearing the net... game getting scruffy..

Leclaire strong there.. Jackets killing them in shots but you just get that feeling the puck is gonna bounce for the 'nucks and right into our net..

Luongo looks to be okay... good to see... deserved penatly on 40.. got to be smarter than that..

Boll runs Luongo...this game is gonna get real chippy now... Luongo could be hurt...

Oh man.. Fritsche drops em again... and just belts Bieska... wow!! Where did that come from 49? ...he's certainly not known to drop the mits... but dude is showing he can handle himself this season

Real good pressure on the PP by Z line.. good shots from the point...1 min to go...

Chimera...man this dude has had the best looks of the night for the Jackets.. can't put any home...

Jackets back on the PP.... c'mon boys lets get one here!!

Kelsla blocks a shot... wins a battle in the corner.. playin well thus far..

Tell yeah.. Jackets are skating hard tonight.. great to see... everybody has their legs goin..now a little scrum here.. Boll right in there.. but Fritsche doin a good job standing up for teammates as well..

Jackets with some nice energy to come here in the 2nd... need a goal boys!!

Is it just me or is Vancouvers crowd is real quite tonight...

Just got a reminder from Rimgare that Shannon got his 3rd of the year....of course their 4th line scores on us... ughhh..

**START OF THE SECOND**

Klesla led all Jackets with ice time that period with 8:40 seconds.

Shots: Cans 6 Jackets 5

Nice first period by Tarnstrom.. not bad either from the callups Rome and MacKenzie.. get that feeling though, again, that the Jackets are going to have a real hard time scoring...

**END OF FIRST**

Jackets really need this next goal....would be a huge boost.. they aren't playing too bad though.

Another good shift by the Nash-Peca-Brule line....boys have to keep the pressure on..

Decent shift after giving up goal...but a lot of corner play and possesion in the o-zone...nothing real quality in front of the cage though..

Whelp... terrible...HORRIBLE turnover by Modin leads to Vancouver getting a rush and catching the Jackets way out of position... 5 hole goal... Modin has to be smarter than that.. that first goal is usually a killer for this team..

MacKenzie makes up for his penalty by drawing one... bad penalty by the Cans to take in the offensive zone... of course I'll take it.. how big would a goal be here?

Canucks definitely throwing their weight around early.. Rome, making his CBJ debut, looks a little nervous out there with some off passes...only his 2nd NHL game.. he'll calm down..

Good kill after that waived off goal.. Chims with a trojan on net... keep firing em..

No penalty but they waive off the goal? I don't get it... if its interference it should be a penalty... oh well, I'll take the waived off goal..

There ya go Klesla...nice clear on the PK... Canucks close.. using their points very well... they score.....wait, wait... waived off... not sure why? Do the Jackets actually catch a break? Yes they do.. Naslund bumps Leclaire... I can't believe it... Jackets finally get a call...

Nice hit by Tolly...somehow Kelser gets away with a trip... that would have definitely been called if we pulled that.. and speaking of MacKenzie just got a damn tripping penalty... oh Jackets...

Have I mentioned I hate West coast games...at least no work tomorrow..c'mon boys make it worth us staying up tonight..!

Decent jump by the boys to start here...still real early obviously...

Zherdev already looks to be skating better than he did on Wed at home.. good sign.

Whelp...Peca with a penalty..seems to be a normal thing for him lately. If Vancouver scores here we could be in for a long night.....cool - Kesler takes a penalty so we are 4 on 4... score first Jackets...puh-leeeease!

Here we go. Lets see what Jackets team shows up tonight.

**START OF FIRST**

Cool site


Just saw this over on HF. Great site if you want to track draft picks (which unfortunately for CBJ fans we may have to start paying closer attention to as this season winds down).

As it stands today the Jackets have the following:

1st - 10th overall
1st - 17th overall (contingent on Avalanche making playoffs)
2nd - 40th
3rd - 70th
4th - 100th
5th - 130th
5th - 134th (obtained in 2007 from Carolina for Anson Carter)
6th - 160th
7th - 190th

Of course that is all subject to change depending how the season goes.

Check it out here.

-LTL

Pre-game thoughts: Morale still down heading into Vancouver


The Jackets continue to try to shake off the aftershocks felt by the trade deadline tonight in Vancouver.

Vancouver is a team that is 5 points ahead of the Jackets with two less games played. They sit 8th in the conference. Vancouver has lost their last game but are a whopping 6-1-3 over their past 10. They are just so-so at home going 17-11-4.

The Jackets meanwhile are also losers of their past game and are 4-4-2 in their last 10. They have been better on the road of late winning their past two in Montreal and Ottawa. They are 6-3-1 over their past 10 on the road.

Keys to lighting them up

Mentally prepare. These guys are all professionals but are also human beings and as much as they want to get be ready sometimes these things take time. However time is not on their side and if the Jackets have any hope left what-so-ever of making a push they have got to find their A game tonight in Vancouver.

Sedins. They spark the Canuck's offense and must be contained. Both have over 60 points. Can Klelsa/Hejda be our #1 shutdown - they'll have to be if the Jackets want to find success.

PK. Its been brutal lately and they have now dropped to 5th in the league. More of that and they can kiss this one good bye.

More offense. Vyborny finally got on the board....can he keep it up? Brule is getting some time on the top line -- can he keep taking steps? Its important right now to get contributions for everyone on this roster -- they need team scoring by committee as much as they need team defense -- it goes both ways.

SCORE FIRST!!!

Vancouver special teams. They are ranked 13th in both PP and PK -- translation that can play you any way you want. Tight game, blow out, physical, open up....this team can beat you in a lot of ways.

Take advantage of road momentum. This road trip could actually be just what the doctor ordered. Get away from the trade distraction...concentrate on regrouping as a team and redefining roles....lets keep it going on the road.

Game spotlight

Keep an eye on Freddy Modin and Nik Zherdev. Both players struggled mightily against the Sharks on Wednesday. Lets see if both can rebound or if they pack it away for the remainder of the year.

*******************

Team morale seems down as displayed by their lackluster effort against the San Jose Sharks at home. The question is how long will it take this team to get over this post trade deadline hangover?

A win tonight would certainly go a long way towards that.

GO JACKETS!

-LTL

The Departed


I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the opening night roster versus what is being iced today.

As you can see GM Scott Howson is definitely putting his stamp on the team just by the amount of names that have left.

Expect this lineup to get an even further overhaul this summer.

*note players in blue are no longer with the organization

Opening night roster:

Nash Fedorov Modin
Zherdev Peca Vyborny
Chimera Molhotra Fritsche
Boll Novotny

Foote Hejda
Klesla Hainsey
Westcott Russell
Tollefsen

Leclaire
Norrena

Scratched: Shelley, Brule, Glencross

vs

Tonight's roster:

Nash Peca Brule
Chimera Novotny Zherdev
Modin Vyborny Novotny
Murray Fritsche Boll

Klesla Hejda
Hainsey Tarnstrom
Russell Tollefsen

Leclaire
Norrena

Expected scratches: Rome, MacKenzie

Be sure to catch the 5 questions with Mike Preist regarding the deadline fallout and also the boys over at the Dispatch have a good podcast with some interesting nuggets about the deadline and Richards.

-LTL

Thursday, February 28, 2008

This Foote stinks...

Ha.... to be honest I've just been dying to use that title...but it doesn't have relevance other than this pic being of Foote taking his stick and going home:

These are done by a very big fan and I'm grateful he allows me to post them here to share with the CBJ faithful out there.

I hope you all enjoy them.

-LTL

Shockingly expected


Hitch said in his post game presser last night that the players were "still in a state of shock" after the moves that were made on Tuesday.
I would say a big portion of the fan base was as well. I think more so over that fact that we were oh so close to getting Richards and then let down and dissapointment afterwards....and these fans have felt a alot of dissappointment over the years.

So it goes without saying last night's 4-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks came as no surprise.

I will admit though, for a bit there I thought the Jackets were going to make a game of it. The battled back from being down 1-0 to make 1-1 and then again after being down 2-1 to make it 2-2. Alas the Sharks just had to much in the "tank" and the Jackets were not able to match their effort for 60 minutes and they did not get the key pentaly killing when it needed it.

Lit it up

Well David Vyborny played his best game of the year. Yeah he had two goals but he was finally carrying the puck and making smart little plays with it. Perhaps he's a bit releived or rejuvinated after the deadline? We'll see if he can keep it up.

Jared Boll. Once again was the hardest worker for the Jackets and man what a great fight. We need more 3rd/4th liners like this kid. Cloning perhaps? Is that legal yet?

Nationwide and the fans honor Jody Shelley. Nice tribute video (although I have to agree with Portzline - eye of the tiger and what in the hell was that other song? lame..) and the fans with a well deserved standing-o....and is it just me or does Shelley look like a completely different player on the Sharks?

Dim the light

Gilbert Brule continues to find his game one step at a time. Another nice consistant game from 17. He had over 10 mins of ice time, created the opportunity on the Jackets first goal by getting a nice hard shot on net .

Rick Nash. Loved the fire he showed sticking up for Brule and challenging Campbell. I think Nash knows what he needs to do now in Foote's wake. He needs to become the undisputed leader of this team and he showed some signs of taking on that responsibility last night. Speaking of Campbell - I still want that guy in a CBJ jersey come July 1st -- he should be a prime target if the Sharks don't lock him up. He's exactly what we need on defense.

Not he best night for Leclaire but he did stop 32 of 28 and had some real bad luck with Novotny deflecting one in on his skate. The Sharks just chewed up the Jackets on the PP as well -- a couple Leclaire had no chance on.

Decent attendance last night with over 16k in the house on a Wednesday night. Doubt that continues the rest of the way unfortunately.

Dick Transtrom with huge minutes last night. Played over 22. I think that is a pretty good indication of where some of those Foote minutes have been absorbed. I've like Tarnstrom since he's come over -- like him more as a 5/6 guy though.

Busted bulbs

The Jackets played a little better than I expected them to but really folded their tents after that back breaking late 2nd period goal. They gave up after that.

Nik Zherdev. The absolute worst game I've seen him play all year. He was a complete non-factor. In fact he looked like the Z of last year. I thought maybe some of the vets like Modin or Peca would look the worst -- Modin gave him a run - but it was Z who really looked like he didn't care last night. Lets just hope it was a one game thing. If this team wants to finish out the year on a high they'll need 13 producing and not just coasting across the finish line.

Freddy Modin. Horrible game as well. Missed passes. Blown coverages. Just looked completely out of sorts. He certainly needs to regain his focus. I think he and Z were two of the guys Hitch was referring to when he could see the shock in their eyes.
PK. Gave up two PP goals. It continues its downward slide.

PP was again a non factor. Ron Hainsey is not the PP QB of the future folks. He's just an average defender, nothing less and nothing more. This area needs a huge upgrade in the offseason.

The Jackets home record -- 04-2 over its last 6. Horrendous. How do you go from one of the best home teams in the league to this? Never thought I'd say this but thank god we are hitting the road for the next 3.

Reffing again continues in its efforts to completely ruin games. How Nash only gets a roughing on the Campbell situation...blown icings...

3 bright lights on the night

1. Jody Shelley. Nice to see the crowd response to man who put alot into hockey in the Columbus market.
2. David Vyborny. Two goals and good all around game. Has he finally awaken from a nightmare season?
3. Jared Boll. Continues to be the only CBJ player who consitantly plays with fire in his belly night in and night out. Nothing fazes this kid.

At the end of the day the Jackets were beaten solidly by the Sharks. When you can only muster 5 shots on goal in the 3rd to your opponents 14 I think its pretty obvious which team deserved this one.

So Hitch will work to continue to pick up the pieces. Next game is Friday in Vancouver. The season may quickly turn from "playoff watch" to "draft watch over the next week. The good news is that the Jackets have been good on the road so perhaps this road trip is exactly what the boys need to regain their focus.

-LTL

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Deadline reaction from around league

Edmonton Journal - has us as "on the fence":

Columbus -- The Jackets will miss Adam Foote's leadership because Rick Nash has yet to step up, but Foote wanted too much -- $8 million for two years -- so he's back in Colorado. Columbus will get a first-rounder if the Avs make the playoffs, and one in 2009 if they don't. Nice work by GM Scott Howman.

ESPN's take:

In Columbus, the Foote deal, along with the trade of Sergei Fedorov to Washington, signals the white flag on the Blue Jackets' long-shot bid to make the playoffs this season. Which is fine. This is a team that isn't quite there yet and can stand to stockpile as many draft picks and prospects as possible. With Foote and Fedorov off the books, Howson is expected to be very active in the offseason. Whether that means unrestricted free agents or offer sheets to restricted free agents, Howson will then prove his mettle as an NHL GM.

The Hockey News - general comments

On Fedorov: ANALYSIS: The Washington Capitals’ push for a Southeast Division title continued on trade deadline day with their acquisition of Sergei Fedorov from Columbus for Notre Dame defenseman Ted Ruth.Fedorov was heavily rumored to be on his way to a Western Conference team, but Caps GM George McPhee has needed a veteran center to replace the injured Michael Nylander for months now, and he gets one in the 38-year-old Russian legend.Another in a long line of soon-to-be unrestricted free agents dealt on trade deadline day, Fedorov also will provide a nice bump for Washington’s average power play. Ruth, 19, was drafted 46th overall by the Capitals in 2007 and is a mobile, stay-at-home defenseman who didn’t rank in Washington’s top 10 prospect list in Future Watch 2008. The Naperville, Ill., native spent the previous two seasons with the U.S. national team development program and needs at least two more years development at Notre Dame. The fact he was not among Washington’s top 10 prospects suggests he’s more a middling project than anything close to a sure bet. - AP/BC

On Foote Foote returns to Colorado after failing to reach a deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Obviously, the Blue Jackets didn’t feel a 36-year-old Foote was worth anything near $4 million per year for two more years. Now, the Blue Jackets will get a first-round pick either this June or next, which is a good return for Foote. But the risk for the Blue Jackets is that a dressing room that was void of leadership is even worse off in that department. It was so bad that coach Ken Hitchcock threw up his arms the other day and told the players to run practice. The Jackets also get another conditional pick based on whether or not Foote re-signs with the Avalanche. The only team in NHL history never to appear in the playoffs looks as though it has resigned itself to another spring out of the post-season. There is speculation that Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson would have stepped up for Foote if he had been able to get Brad Richards, but after that plan fell through he became a seller. - KC

CBSSports.com - Goldstein calls us a loser for not acquiring even though he has us ranked 27th on this power rankings this past week -- pick an argument bub.

This is a team that has not made the playoffs since beginning play in 2000, yet now sits only a few points out of the final seed in the West. The Jackets were in the mix to get Richards out of Tampa Bay, but ultimately didn't have the assets to entice the Lightning enough. So instead of looking elsewhere and trying to upgrade for a final push this season, the Jackets instead threw in the towel and moved Fedorov and Foote for futures. Patience has already worn thin among the loyal Columbus fans and these moves won't make that situation any better.

CNNSI.com - general comments

After failing to come to terms with his captain on a contract extension, rookie GM Scott Howson hit a home run in dealing the vet to the only team for which he’d waive his NTC. His absence will leave a big hole both on and off the ice in Columbus, but a first rounder this year (if the Avs make the playoffs) or next will help smooth it over. For their part, the Avs bring home another aging veteran of their glorious past in an effort to sneak back into the postseason race. It says here it’s too little, too late.

The Caps have struggled to find a suitable replacement for Michael Nylander all season, and while the skills of the 38-year-old Fedorov have clearly eroded, he can fill the second line role better than anyone currently on the roster. His playoff experience, and firm grasp of the Russian language, should be a plus down the stretch. Ruth, a 2007 second rounder, is a freshman at Notre Dame. The 19-year-old stay-at-home defenseman has NHL potential, but he was well down Washington’s depth chart and won't be missed by the Caps.

-LTL

Pre-game thoughts: Hitch left to pick up the pieces


After an emotional day yesterday the team must now find a way to move on.

Gone is their captain of whom gave up on this team and bailed.

Gone is their 6 million dollar desperation move by former GM Doug MacLean to fill a long standing hole in this lineup at center ice in Sergei Fedorov.

Gone perhaps is their shot at the postseason...although I would say their 4-6-3 performance post All Star break all but sealed that fate.

Probably the most important though is gone are two more pieces from the Doug MacLean era as Howson works cautiously and calculated to rebuild a team that has been "building" since existence.

So what now?

Hitch is left yet again to pick up the pieces and try to do whatever he can with a group of players that no doubt feels abandoned by upper management. From what I gather morale is very low right now and its hard for the players to see the big picture impact of what transpired yesterday.
They are focused on the now which is understandable.

Its time to move on though. Its time to regain focus. Its time to man up and be professionals. This team has never been high in talent and has gotten by this year on great defense and goaltending and timely scoring.
This team is still in the best shape its ever been in this far into the season. Steps have been taken.

Is the loss of Sergei Fedorov and Adam Foote reasons to throw in the towel and get away from the game that has made them successful this season? That's for the players to answer tonight.

Keys to lighting em up

Here is the one key I want to say about the game tonight.

They can use what happened yesterday in two ways:

The easy way -- pack their bags, fold their tents, take their money and run and use it as an excuse to ride out the rest of year dreaming about tee times and sandy beaches

or

The hard way -- dig in, refocus and use what transpired as a motivator. Their captain bailed on them? If that is me in that room I'm pissed and I'm not ready to give up on the year. Screw him is what I would say. The guys in that room got them to this point and they need to believe in themselves. Ain't no quick fix Hossa/Campbell/Richards going to ride in a white horse and suddenly turn this team in a world beater. Its has to come from the team within that room no matter who they could have obtained or what they lost yesterday.

Just about every NHL team went through the same highs and lows including teams solidly in the playoffs.

Montreal, a team near the top of the Eastern conference, lost their starting goaltender in Huet for a pick and did not add one other piece -- how did they respond? They thumped Atlanta 5-1 is what they did.

Ottawa, a team also at the top of the Eastern conference that only made a minor acquistition well that did the exact opposite -- they got thumped 4-0 but Boston who also did not make a move.

So what's it gonna be? We gonna be Montreal or Ottawa tonight?

The vets can cry or they can take ownership. The young guys can stand idly by or than can use this as an opportunity.

The old adage - one man's loss is another's gain.

I can guarantee you that is what callups Aaron Rome and Derek MacKenzie are thinking right now.

We'll certainly find out what this team is made of tonight.

Game spotlight

Tonight marks Jody Shelley's first return to Nationwide Arena in an opposing team's sweater. Will he and Boll tangle?

Also keep an eye on Jason Campbell who is a deadline acquisition for the San Jose Sharks. Campbell was very non committal about his intentions after the season as he "just wants to focus on hockey". Translation - he has every intention of testing the UFA market this offseason -- he is the exact kind of puck mover this team needs and I could see Howson throwing oodles of dough and term at this guy.

*******************

Will be interesting to see what kind of crown turns up tonight. I'm going in hoping for the best but expecting the worst. The team has typically played well against teams higher in the standings but recently they have been brutal at home (0-2-2 in last 4) and who knows how they respond to yesterday's sell off.

Like always I'll be there to watch the madness with pre/post game at the Rbar.

GO FOOTE-LESS JACKETS!

-LTL

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Reflecting on today

Today was a great reflection on what has been and up and down season for the Jackets.

For many fans, today was the same rollercoaster ride.

From the high of possibly getting that #1 center in his prime this team has desperately needed since existence to the low of not realizing that acquisition.

Of course it didn't stop there as the team dealt away Sergei Fedorov and its captain Adam Foote for prospect and picks.

So lets take a step back, catch our breath and try to review the moves (or non-moves) on the day:

Failure to get Brad Richards
Recap - This one stung - in fact I feel like Stinger just bit me in the ass. The Jackets were in this one right to the end offering a combination of packages must notably being Brule, Fritsche and Tollefsen. In fact many thought the Jackets were the leader. A glove wouldn't have fit as good as Richards would have in this lineup - he was EXACTLY what the Jackets needed. In the end the Jackets just didn't have the goaltender to offer to close the deal and that was the deal breaker.

What would I have done differently? - I certainly wouldn't have parted with Leclaire or Mason. What good is a scoring line center if you can't stop the puck? The New Jersey Devils have been as good as they are for one reason and that's consistent goaltending. The Lightning have been on a free fall b/c of how bad theirs have been. I may have considered including a 1st or a guy like Brassard but I doubt it would have made much of a difference b/c Tampa wanted the goaltender.

Now that the dust has cleared - I think Howson did all he could here. I'm glad he was in the mix and if nothing else it showed he is willing to spend the cash to bring in the right player to address the big needs on this team which he himself was center and defense.

What's next - Howson will have to wait (I know Jacket fans - more patience) til the offseason to go after a #1 center whether it be via trade or UFA. Look for him to fill this via trade and package picks/prospects to get it.

Adam Foote dealt to Colorado for 1st round pick
Recap - After the Richards domino fell many thought that Foote or Fedorov would be the next to go and they were right. As we know Foote was dealt to Colorado for a conditional 1st round pick in '08 or '09 and a 4th if he's resigned. I went over this whole mess in an earlier post but in short I really believe Foote left Howson with no choice and when things didn't go exactly his way he bolted on this team.

Now that the dust has cleared - again I look at this situation and I'm not sure I would have done much differently. Foote would only waive his NTC to go to Colorado which limited Howson's ability to negotiate a greater return....Howson did well to get a 1st round pick out of it.

Here's the part that really baffles me -- after they could not agree to contract terms and Foote was dealt - he was asked if he would have played out the season and then tried to re-sign this summer -- he said ""Honestly, that would have been tough for me, not knowing where my future lies."" --- oh really, so going to Colorado as a rental is a more certain future? News flash - no way Colorado resigns Foote for the 4 mil he wanted here so I think his future is even more murky - Foote overplayed his hand plain and simple.

What's next - Hitch is left to pick up the pieces. Losing Foote is definitely a short term hit and a very hard sell to the team who wanted help not to lose their captain. No longer will Hitch have his best defensive shutdown defensemen and the team's leader in the room. As a friend of mine put it - who is going to play against Joe Thornton tomorrow? Good point. Rusty Klesla is going to have to up his game. Pascal Leclaire is going to have to be even more sharp. The team will have to fill his leadership role....or they could just pack it in.

Obviously the defense will need addressed in the offseason in a major way and from the sounds of it Howson is fully aware of this.

Sergei Fedorov dealt to the Washington Capitals for Ted Ruth
Recap - This domino fell right after Foote was traded. The return in prospect Ted Ruth surprised me a bit. I really thought Howson would get more and that it would be a center. Ted Ruth was a 2nd round pick (#46 overall) in last year's draft and was apparently a target of the Jackets but he was gone by the time they used their second 2nd round selection (#53 overall) for Will Weber.

Now that the dust has cleared - There was no doubt in my mind Fedorov would move so that did not come as surprise. The return did though but I've come around a bit on the Ted Ruth return although I really think it would have been in Howson's best interests to get some kind of return that could help this team now. Perhaps that just wasn't available for a 38 year old center who has battled a number of injuries all season long. The Jackets essentially got a 2nd round pick back for Feds and its a player, by all accounts, they really wanted in the draft last year. He also adds to a prospect pool that was not strong with defensive prospects.

What's next - Vyborny, Peca, Novotny, Malhotra, Fritsche will have to do what they can to hold down the center of the ice for the rest of the year. Its obviously still a glaring need and will absolutely need to be addressed in some form, via trade or UFA, this offseason.

I really don't think moving Feds hurts this team much in the short term unless the players let it mentally.

Moves that weren't made
Recap - I'll be honest, once Howson went into sell mode I thought at the very least Vyborny would move and maybe Peca. If there is anything I want to criticize him on is why just stop with Foote and Feds? Was there no offers for rest? Also again I would have liked to have seen some kind of roster player returned from either Foote or Fedorov that could help now.

Now that the dust has cleared - I still would have liked a couple of players now but I'm starting to see why Peca/Hainsey/Vyborny weren't dealt. If they were who would the CBJ play? They still have a distant shot at this thing. Howson couldn't completely strip dry this roster. In fact the only player he was going to trade regardless was Fedorov. When the Foote negotiation when south Howson had to make a decision and he chose to collect assets.

All that said I still would have dealt Vyborny.

What's next - There were lots of CBJ names thrown around this trade deadline - probably more than at any other time in their short history. Somehow, someway this team must regain its focus and stop worrying about who didn't get dealt, what help they didn't get and worry about the Sharks tomorrow night. They can do it, if they play like they did in Montreal, Ottawa and Detroit they can beat anyone - they just have to continue to believe in themselves.

Blue Jackets ownership absolutely must...and I mean MUST open up the checkbook this summer and let Howson bring in whatever he deems necessary. Its obvious he chooses his players carefully so they need to trust him and let him make some much needed acquisitions. This team will need some big splashes to get season ticket holders to renew as no doubt they took a heavy hit in the PR department today.

I also think its imperative this organization lock down Hitch -- he is just as an important piece as any player is on this team.

Finally, get Leclaire extended to a multi-year contract asap.

The fact is the Jackets have no one but themselves to blame for them becoming sellers at the deadline -- they have gone 4-6-3 since the All Star break which really hurt their chances.

They aren't out of it though. There are 18 games left in this season. Last year it took 96 points to get in, the Jackets currently have 67. For the Jackets to reach that mark they would have to go 14-4. That ain't happening *but* with the parity this season it may take less than 90 points to get in -- if that is the case the Jackets could go 12-6 -- still quite the order but more reasonable.

As they say just take it day by day, game by game. Win and everything takes care of itself.

-LTL

More on Foote

I just finished listening to Scott Howson on 1460 the Sham. He shared a little more detail on the Foote situation that clearly makes me think he did the right thing by dealing him.

He said they tried to resign Foote to a two year extension but when it was determined that an agreement couldn't be reached by the deadline Howson expressed that he would like to keep him through the end of the season.

At that point is when Foote said he wanted to move on as he did not want to play out the season here if he wasn't resigned by the deadline

What? Just like that..take it or leave?

Obviously Howson left it and that was the right move.

There's your captain folks.

Anyone question where his head has been the last 3 years? Better yet, his heart? Sounds like Colorado to me.

Now putting the pieces together it has been reported that the two sides were negotiating between 3 to 4 million on a two year deal.

That's quite a hefty sum for a 36 year old defensemen past him prime on either side of the spectrum.

My guess is that Howson wanted Foote for 3 mil per while the Foote camp wanted 4 mil. The last update I heard is that they were 500k apart and the Jackets latest offer was 3.5 mil over 2 years.

So the Jackets met halfway -- why didn't our team captain who says he desperately wanted to stay in Columbus and help this team make the playoffs meet halfway as well?

Hmmm, just a bit one sided I think.

Sorry folks, but that's not a negotiation and once Foote gave the ultimatum that he wanted dealt and Colorado showed interest he bolted. Is that the kind of captain we want around here?

Look I was excited as hell when we acquired Foote and he played really well for us, especially this season, but if this is indeed how things when down today Howson had no choice to deal him.

I know its a business on both sides but there just isn't any way Howson could hold on to him when the relations freeze like that. Whose to say Foote wouldn't have just gone through the motions if we hung on to him - would that have helped our playoff push? Not a chance.

I wish Adam Foote good luck in the future. There is no ill will here but I'm certainly not going to lose any sleep over the way Scott Howson handled this situation. Quite frankly I think its amazing he was able to get what he did -- a 1st round pick and possibly a 4th if he resigns there --- pretty damn good under the circumstances.

Now its time to move on.

Howson collects his conditional first rounder in a very deep draft (said to be deep in 08 and 09) that could really come in handy as he tries to fill roster holes this offseason.

The team now must look to itself for leadership and to make a playoff push.

Hitch, while certainly not happy that his team captain was dealt yet no players were added, must reach even deeper into his bag of tricks to keep this team together and motivated.

Slowly but surely Doug MacLean's mistakes are being cleansed. Nobody said it would be easy but this was a necessary step.

I'll have more reflection on today's developments later tonight.

-LTL

Live Trade Deadline bloggin

Update: TSN now reporting CBJ are done. So looks like it was only Foote and Feds who were sold off.

Update: Gotta admit I thought we'd sell off more pieces. Its 10 to 4:00 so there is still a bit of time. Perhaps no one wanted Vyborny? I thought at the very least he'd be dealt.

Also Derick Brassard has been sent down. I guess our lineup will look something like this tomorrow night if nothing else happens:

Nash Vyborny Modin
Chimera Peca Zherdev
Brule Novotny Fritsche
Boll Malhotra Murray
Lindstrom

Klesla Hejda
Hainsey Tollefsen
Transtrom Russell

Leclaire
Norrena

Can that group continue the push? Hitch has his work cut out for him.

Update: Whoa.. a fleury of late trades just being announced. The biggest being that the Rangers have finally dealt Al Montoya to the Coyotes of all places. In return the Rags got a bunch of grinders in Sjostrom and Gratton and a goalie in Leneveu.

Also apparently Foote was just interviewed by CBC (god know our pathetic sports stations couldn't lift a microphone (1460 is a absolute JOKE) and was stunned by the trade. He may see it as being only 500k apart but I firmly believe the organization budged to move up to 3.5 and he stood pat at 4 mil. This one is not on Howson IMO. If Foote wanted to stay he would have comprimised as well.

Getting a 1st rounder for him was a bit of a steal for Howson though - very pleased with that return. Hopefully it is used as a chip for a player this offseason.

Update: There are a couple of incoming late deals but nothing with the CBJ as of yet. Detroit was pretty quite but picked up Brad Stuart for a 2nd and 4th. Chris Simon is out on the Island going to Minnesota -- how many tough guys does that team need? Jeesh.

All in all I thought the deadline this year has been the quietest in years. We are one of the few teams who actually got a 1st round pick in return for a player. Atlanta (Hossa) and Buffalo (Campbell) being the other two.

Update: 3:00 p.m. passes so the deadline is up. Will be very interesting to see if Howson sits on Vyborny/Peca/Hainsey/Hejda. We'll know in about an hour for sure.

Update: Atlanta god Angelo Esposito, a 1st round pick, Erick Christensen and Colby Armstrong. That's a pretty good haul by Don Waddell.

As they say though the team that gets the best player in the deal usually wins it.

Update: Apparently Marian Hossa has been dealt to Pittsburgh. Sportsnet says Colby Armstrong going the other way. God Pittsburgh is going to be sick.

What makes me sick is that Pittsburgh has been worse than us and now is better than us. Meanwhile we are where we are. Uggh.

Update: 10 minutes to go. Remember though that trades can filter in have been annoucned as much as 2 hours after the deadline the past. So just b/c the clock strikes 3 does not neccessarily mean the deals are done.

I expect one or two more Jackets to be dealt before this thing wraps up.

Update: Looks like the Jackets get a 4th round pick if Foote resigns with the Avs. Puck-rakers is hearing rumbling about Patrick Marleau but I would be absolutely shocked if he's brought into the fold before the deadline. Perhaps after but very doubtfull it happens now but the trade deadline can be crazy like that.

Maybe Colorado's 1st plus Brule?

Ahhh.....don't get me started.

Update: Is there any quesiton now where Adam Foote's heart was the entire time he was in Columbus? It may sting a bit short term but it could also be a benefit in disguise as now guys like Nash, Klesla, Z, Leclaire will have to step in and fill some leadership roles.

Another question is what does Hitch do now with the captaincy? My guess is he just goes with "A's" the rest of the year and then Nash gets the C this offseason. Its now his team - nothing to dispute it.

Update: So the question now is if the firesale over? Will Peca, Hainsey or Vyborny get dealt?

What is Hitch thinkin right now? The Jackets were 1 point behind the Avalanche in the standings and they added 4 players while we have subtracted two. The Avalanche have played just 1 more game than the Jackets. Coach can't be happy right about now as he's left to clean up this mess.

Update: Looks like no matter what the Jackets get a 1st round pick for Foote - here is what TSN is saying is the "conditional" part:

If Avs make 2008 playoffs: 2008 first rounder.
If not: 2009 first rounder.

That is a good return for Foote considering the only team Foote would waive his NTC was Colorado. Wouldn't it be something if the Jackets knocked the Avalanche out of the playoffs? I'd wait a year for the their 1st rounder as long as it was us who got it in :) 2008 draft is supposed to be the best in quite some time though.

Update: Foote returned according to TSN.ca a conditional 1st round draft pick and conditional pick on Foote re-signing with Colorado. Be interesting to hear what this "conditional" stuff is all about in terms of the 1st. Feds returned a prospect by the name of Ted Ruth -- he's ranked 12th on Hockeysfuture.com Washington's list... very dissappointed with that return -- I think SH could have done better - but perhaps addition by subtraction.

Next up is Vyborny and Peca. Figure they are next to go during this firesale.

Update: Doug MacLean on prospect saying he's surprised by the sell off b/c they have been playing so well. Says Columbus has been preaching non-stop that they are trying to make the playoffs -- give me a break. Hello people -- once Columbus lost on Richards they went into a sell mode -- plain and simple. I think some of these guys were gone regardless if Columbus landed Richards. MacLean now saying Fedorov helped Zherdev - BULLSHIT! This guy knows no shame.

Update: Apparently Howson got back a propsect for Fedorov. Still trying to figure out who it is -- some Notre Dame prospect.

Update: The sell off continues. Now being reported that Fedorov has been traded to the Washington Capitals. Not sure the return yet. Also still waiting confirmation that Foote returned a 1st round pick.

Update: TSN reporting that Foote got a 1st round pick. If that is the case, then that is a good haul for him. It can be traded later the offseason for a roster player near the draft.

Update: The sell off has begun. Foote to Colorado. I'm sure for just a draft pick but waiting to see what round. Probably a lot less than what we hoped since he basically killed his trade value by limiting his option to only Colorado.

Update: Colorado just picked up Ruslan Salei from Florida for Skrastins and a 3rd round pick. What does that mean - well if Colorado is Foote's only city he will waive to go to and they just added a defensemen like Salei I don't see Howson being able to move him.

Update: Chicago makes a move and trades Tuomo Ruttue to Carolina for Andrew Ladd. Remember the Jackets had a chance to take Ladd but traded down to take Alexandre Picard. I really like Ruutu and think the 'canes get the better end of this deal. I think Chicago does okay though -- both pretty comparable players. Change of scenery could help both guys.

Howson gonna do anything? Feds/Foote/Vybes/Hainsey/Hejda all still CBJs.

Update: So the official return for Richards was Mike Smith, Jussi Jokinen and Jeff Halpren. Again the key here is that Howson was correctly right in not wanting to move Leclaire or Mason and without a goaltending compenent the Jackets lost out. Down the road if Mason does develop and Leclaire keeps up this play perhaps the Jackets will find themselves in a position to deal one off for major help. For now though Columbus cannot afford to sacrafice goaltending depth -- its to important - just look no futher than what Leclaire has done for us this season for an example.

Update: Buffalo gets Steve Bernier and a 1st round pick. Not a bad a return. I'd have to think Foote could get a 1st round pick back but if Colorado is his only option then the Jackets will have absolutely no leverage.

Update: So far no moves on the Jackets front but a couple of big dominos have fallen. Campbell to San Jose; Richards to Dallas; Prospal to Philly.

Where does that leave the Jackets? Its been reported that Foote will only waive his NTC to go to Colorado. If that is true then this day is really shaping up to be bad news for the Jackets. They can still move Fedorov, Vyborny, Hainsey, Peca or Hejda but Foote is a big piece and if he's not in the future plans and we can't get anything back for him then this day will be a dissapointment.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Jackets miss out on Richards

The thought was good while it lasted but Brad Richards is now a Dallas Star as reported on yahoo.com.

The rich get richer.

It was said that Richards had narrowed his list of teams to Vancouver, Dallas and Columbus.

All three were offering good packages but at the end of the day it was Dallas who had the most to offer in terms of assets and playoff potential.

The cap didn't do us any favors by going up another 3 to 4 million giving teams like Dallas who are willing to spend to the cap a lot more flexibility to add a guy like Richards.

It really is a kick in the (you know where) if your a CBJ fan but I give Howson credit for being aggressive and trying to address a major hole in this lineup in a big way.

To me it came down to the goaltenders. Dallas offered Mike Smith and we weren't willing to give up Leclaire or blue chip prospect Steve Mason.

Back to the drawing board for Howson to try to address that #1 center need. Marleau and Jokinen are rumored to be on the block. Maybe Langkow in the offseason. Regardless I don't expect a deal for #1 now until the offseason.

It will be interesting to see what happens with Foote and Fedorov today. With no news of a Foote signing I am now leaning towards both of these players getting dealt for picks or prospects or roster players if they can add the right ones.

Looks like Howson may be cleaning house after this Richards domino has fallen.

One would think that if Howson landed the big fish in Richards that Foote would be kept and a playoff push realized. Now with Richards out I think Howson has no choice but get what he can in terms of assets and try to address needs this offseason via more trade options or unrestricted free agency.

If all he can get are picks perhaps those could be packaged for legit help around draft time in June.

The only problem is that now he will have to fill #1 center, #1 defensemen and a shutdown defensemen. That's a tall order.

By this time tomorrow this team may indeed be Rick Nash, Nikolai Zherdev and Pascal Lelcaire's. They've carried it this far, with the possibility of veteran leadership like Foote leaving can they keep this boat afloat or will everyone pack it in?

Better yet, how does Hitch keep this team from imploding and how does this franchise expect season ticket renewals to come rolling in?

Wish I had those answers but I don't. The only thing I know is that who ever is left standing by 3:00 p.m. can use this is a rallying point and look towards themselves to keep a playoff push alive or they can use it as an excuse.

Nash, Zherdev & Leclaire will have to lead the way.

Update: Added yahoo link

-LTL

Stat of the day

This time last year, the day before the deadline, there were 7 trades:

February 26, 2007: To New York Islanders : Richard Zednik
To Washington Capitals : 2nd round pick in 2007 (Ted Ruth)

February 26, 2007: To Ottawa Senators : Lawrence Nycholat
To Washington Capitals : Andy Hedlund and a 6th round pick in 2007 (Justin Taylor )

February 26, 2007: To Vancouver Canucks: Brent Sopel
To Los Angeles Kings : 2nd round pick in either 2007 (option exercised, Wayne Simmonds)or a 4th round pick in 2008

February 26, 2007: To Vancouver Canucks : Bryan Smolinski
To Chicago Blackhawks : conditional 2nd round pick ( Akim Aliu)

February 26, 2007: To Philadelphia Flyers : Lasse Kukkonen and a 3rd round pick in 2007 (Garrett Klotz)
To Chicago Blackhawks : Kyle Calder

February 26, 2007: To Detroit Red Wings : Kyle Calder
To Chicago Blackhawks : Jason Williams

February 26, 2007: To Pittsburgh Penguins: Gary Roberts
To Florida Panthers : Noah Welch

So far this year there are a total of 0.

Its way to quiet out there.

-LTL

Jackets make offer for Richards...


According to Puck-rakers the offer is:

Dan Fritsche
Age: 22
Assets - Displays plenty of two-way potential. Owns grit and determination, excellent skating ability and a wealth of versatility.
Flaws - Shoulder problems continue to dog him, and might hamper his long-term development. As an Ohio native, expectations may be unrealistic with the Jackets.
Career potential - Two-way forward.

Gilbert Brule
Age: 21
Assets - Owns excellent hands and playmaking skills. Has a nose for the net. Likes to play the body and is effective at both ends of the ice.
Flaws - Must avoid injuries in order to maximize potential, which won't be easy because of his kamikaze style and smallish stature. Is too inconsistent.
Career potential - Top six forward.

OK Tollefsen
Age: 23
Assets - Loves to lay on the body and displays a wealth of toughness and aggression along the blueline. Has the makings of a sound defensive defenseman.
Flaws - Needs to improve his all-around skills, since he's below average with the puck. Must learn when to pick his spots in the hitting department.
Career potential - Defensive defenseman.

In exchange the Lightning give up:

Brad Richards
Age: 27
Assets - Has incredible imagination with the puck and excellent playmaking ability. Likes to shoot the puck often and displays two-way savvy.
Flaws - Isn't big or physical, so he may wear down against bigger opposing centers. Will occasionally pass up a great scoring chance.
Career potential - First line center.

More importantly the Lightining would be freeing up well over 5 million in budget room.

The Jackets offer does fall in line with what Tampa wants and that's to clear roster space and pick up young affordable assets who can play now. The only thing it doesn't give them is a goalie but I'm not sure they'll be able to return that as the market stands today.

In Brule they are getting a blue chip propsect who seems to just now be finding his way through the NHL game.

In Frtische they get a 3rd line grinder who will mabye get you 10 - 15 goals a year.

Finally in Tollefsen they get a 5th/6th defensemen who is as rugged as they come.

The key though is that all of these players are cheap, have solid NHL experience and can step right into their lineup to help right away.

That's not a bad haul when you consider the key for them is getting that salary off the books. Although I am a little surprised they don't want Klesla over OKT but perhaps they like Tollefsen better b/c he brings a phsycial element to their lineup and well, he's cheaper.

Of course the Jackets don't seem to be alone in making a push for Richards. The Dallas Stars and Vancouver Canucks seem to the other two teams making serious bids.

The Stars have a bit of an ace in the hole are are said to be offereing goaltender Mike Smith. The problem here though is has Smith proven enough. Tampa fans seem to get a Marc Denis vibe from this guy and many think it would be a bad move.

The Canucks are said to be offereing goaltending prosepct Schneider, Bourdon (defensive prospect) and a draft pick of some sort.

Looking over Vancouver and Dallas' salary committments I'm not sure who they can slip a hefty 7.8 per mil contract into their pay structure considering both teams are up there in terms of cap hits and have some key people to resign this offseason.

One thing is for sure, we'll know one way or another how this thing ends up in less than a day and few hourse but its fun to dream of this for now:

Nash - Richards - Modin
Zherdev - Peca - XXX
Chimera - Novonty - XXX
Boll - Brassard - XXX

I think Fedorov, Manny and Vyborny are dealt by the deadline and along with Fritsche and Brule being dealt we have some open winger positions. Howson may get back one or two players to step into that role or he may look to the farm. A guy like Lindstrom would definitely fill out one and then perhaps Konopka or a guy like Pineault or Doresett get some looks.

-LTL

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Howson on the clock!

With no CBJ games between now and the NHL Trade Deadline the spotlight has shifted from the on ice games to off ice activities... yep --- its Trade Deadline time -- and if your like me (which you probably are if your reading this blog) then its one of the funnest times of the year to be an NHL fan.

What makes it even more interesting this year is the how big of player the Jackets could be this year. They have 7 potential unrestricted free agents and of course the talk of Jackets fans everywhere is this Brad Richards situation.

First lets take a look at the unrestricted free agents and their situations in terms of their performance, importance to the team and then I'll give a prediction as to what I think will be their fate come Tuesday 3:00 p.m.

Unrestricted Free Agents:

Sergei Fedorov
The most likely of all UFA's to be to move by the deadline. Sergei Fedorov has 28 points and is a -3. He is the best center we have although I don't think that's saying a whole lot. Some folks may say he can't be dealt because he's to important to a playoff run but I disagree. Fedorov is no more than a 2nd/3rd line center but still has that "name" value. I think this team has just as good of a chance at getting into the show with or without him and Howson has a real good opportunity to flip him for an asset(s) that can help now and in the future and he won't be able to pass that up.

Prediction - Fedorov is dealt for a young NHL ready prospect. Likely destination Ottawa, Detroit or Montreal.

David Vyborny
Vyborny is have an off year. He's only got 19 points in 54 games and is a -10. His game just does not fit into a Hitch coached team. He's a finesse player who has lost a step. Still though there will probably still be a market for Vybes and I think Howson will move him. Again, moving Vyborny won't impact whether or not this team gets into the show.

Prediction - Vyborny is traded for a 2nd or 3rd round pick. Likely destination, somewhere in the Eastern Conference.

Michael Peca
Peca is 3rd in scoring on Jackets with 29 points in 48 games. Peca's future with this team really depends on what happens with Fedorov. If Fedorov is dealt I have a hard time seeing Howson part with Peca because if the team really wants to make a run it will need Peca's presence and leadership down the middle of the lineup.

Prediction - because I firmly believe Fedorov is dealt and with the way the team has stayed in the race, I think Howson retains Peca to help with the playoff push but is not resigned in the offseason.

Ron Hainsey
Hainsey is a bit of a wild card. He leads all Jackets defensemen 28 points in 61 games and is a +3. He's definitely improved in the defensive area of his game but is not physical. The problem is that 20 of his 28 points have come on the PP, he's not a great puck mover and that he will command a salary that I don't think the Jackets will even coming close to paying. With the addition of Tarnstrom I really think Hainsey is expendable given the fact that I'm convinced he's not in the long term plans for this franchise.

Prediction - this is a tough call but I'm gonna say Hainsey is moved. I think a team like San Jose desperately needs a puck mover and either them or someone else will make an offer to Howson that he just won't be able to turn down.

Jan Hejda
Hejda has done an really admirable job this season. He leads the team with a +9 and paired with Foote he has logged alot of tough minutes at even strength and on the PK. Here's the thing though, Hejda came out publicly and said he's love to sign a long term deal here. Since then all we've heard from the CBJ offices are pin drops in regards to this guy. I get the sense he is another player while performing admirably the Jackets won't be resigning this year as they'll want to use his money to go in another direction. I think he's very movable under the right circumstances. He reminds me of Suchy as a guy who plays well but is very replaceable.

Prediction - If Hainsey is moved I think the Jackets sit on Hejda. If Hainsey isn't move then I think Hejda may be. At the end of the day though I think Hejda is retained for the playoff push then walks as a UFA.

Adam Foote
Before the last couple of days I would have thought Foote was a lock to be moved. With the team going 3-2 on the road trip and still hanging around I don't think Howson can move the team's captain and Hitch's most important leader and still hope to make a playoff push. He's said to be asking between 3 to 4 mil over 2 years. My guess is that that Jackets want 3 and Foote wants 4 -- is there a middle ground here? I think so.

Prediction - Foote is resigned to a 2 year 3.7 million per deal.

Dick Tarnstrom
For me Transtrom is the easiest guy to predict as the Jackets just traded for him a few weeks ago. I don't see Howson turning right around and flipping this guy. Tarnstrom is the key that makes Hainsey expendable and has 4 points in 8 games.

Prediction - Tarnstrom is retained and resigned. His perfomance down the stretch will be a key factor in determining whether he is resigned.

So there you have it. Lots of variables and with the recent surge Howson has a delicate balance to obtain here. He can't sell everyone off as that will send the wrong message to the fan base that he is throwing in the towel -- and with season ticket renewals going out and the team only 5 points out well that would just be bad business. He also can't hang onto all of these players especially when there will be a demand for them and moving them can help the franchise now and in the future.

So Howson has some interesting decisions to make. He could be a buyer, seller and trader. He's got a real opportunity to shape this franchise for years to come.

Which brings us to Brad Richards.

By now everyone reading this has certainly heard that the Jackets are very much in the mix for the 27 years old #1 pivot. Obtaining this guy would be a bold move for Scott Howson and the Jackets. Obtaining him would send a strong message that the Jackets aren't screwing around - they want the playoffs now and in the future. This would show the Jackets are ready to spend if its on the right players that address real needs. Well as I've posted before, Richards addresses a HUGE need on this roster and that's a #1 center.

Here is what we know. We know Howson will not give up Nash, Zherdev, Leclaire, Russell, Brassard, Voracek or Mason. That leaves everyone else in play.

We know Tampa does not want UFAs (or rentals) and what they do want are young cap friendly players that will give them flexibility in their budget to resign Dan Boyle, find a legit #1 goalie and resign their franchise player in Vincent Lecavalier next year.

That leaves a truck load of Jackets prospect and young players Brule, Fritsche, Tollefsen, Klesla, Lindstrom and Methot to make some sort of deal. Draft picks could also be included.

Keep in mind one of the biggest assets the Jackets have is that they are willing to take on the 7.8 million contract which is a big key to this deal. There just aren't many teams in a position to do such a thing.

Its said that the Lightning management are meeting tomorrow with the two ownership groups (the Lightning were just sold) to discuss the different options and hopefully make a decision.

It has also been said that Brad Richards is willing to waive his no trade clause and Columbus is on his list of teams he'd be willing to go to.

This trade has the potential to define Howson's GM tenure and would be a bold blockbuster move -- its ballsy but I think its a calculated decision based on needs, what will be available in the market place this offseason, and ownership's willingness to open the pocket book -- I also think its exactly what the Jackets need in terms of where their franchise is and it will completely re-energize this fan base.

Also keep an eye on Manny Malhotra. I think there may be a market for him and I think the Jackets would take that opportunity to offload him for the right deal.

For those that want up to minute trade happenings here are a few good sites:

NHL.com Trade Deadline '08

TSN.ca Trade Centre '08

Sportsnet.ca Trade Tracker

ESPN Trade Tracker

Stay tuned Jackets fans. Its gonna get real interesting around these parts so sit back, strap in and lets see how this unfolds.

-LTL

The price is right...for Leclaire!


Montrea's prized rookie goaltender Carey Price struggled a bit last night... Pascal Leclaire....well he stole Bob Gainey's show with his 10th career shutout and 9th of the season.

Leclaire is back on his game. The Jackets were outplayed most of the night but Leclaire was there. He stopped 31 shots and flashed that form that has made him so darn good this season....all that in front of his hometown team and lots of friends of family.

So although the Canadiens honored a legend on Bob Gainey, it was Leclaire's night once business started.

Lit it up

Team defense. After the ASG the Jackets biggest issue (well besides scoring but that's been there all year) is that they had gotten away from their tight checking everyone works for the goaltender team defense. The past two games for whatever reason they've regained that form and in the process knocked off two the East's best teams in Ottawa and Montreal.

Pascal Leclaire. What else can you say abou this guy? He struggled along with the team in that stretch after the ASG but has been lights out over the past two regaining that All-Star (yeah, the NHL offices and still eat for that snub) form he's had most of the year. Probably the most impressive part of last night's performance was his play over the first 10 minutes when he helped kill an early PP and take away the Canadiens momentum.

Nash. Scored his 33rd goal. He's scored 5 over his last 7. His job on the PK has been such an asset this season. Good on Nash for comin alive to keep this team in the hunt which has been a criticism of mine some this season and he's now answering the bell scoring key goals for a team desperate for offense.

Manny Malhotra. Not a big fan of this guy but he made two big plays last night. The first his assist on Andrew Murray's goal and then he finally decide to drive to the net and then wuduyou know -- he scored the "nail in the coffin" goal. His first in 27 games - ouch. Still hope Howson deals him.

Secondary...hell, 3rd level scoring steps up. Murray and Malhotra with big goals. The team needed somebody other than the usual suspects to step up and burry some and they got it last night.

PK. Also got back on track in a BIG WAY. Killed off 8 minor penalties against the #1 PP unit in the league -- including an extended 5 on 3. That was absolutely H-U-G-E!

Bob Gainey. A great career and the Canadiens put on a helluva show for him last night. Congrats on story book career and well deserved honor.

21 thousand in the Bell Centre. Got to love the passion of that original 6 fan base, they do love their hockey. Maybe one day we can get half of that passion in Columbus but it will take some time (the playoffs certainly wouldn't help either).

Dim the light

Zherdev came out like gangbusters but seem to fade, especially after that hard hit he received later in the first. I did find out this morning from a friend that Z was playing under the weather last night so I'll cut him some slack. Still he drew some penalties, played over 17 minutes and created offense.

Jared Boll. Another game, another fight. That makes 22 now and leads the NHL in that category. He had some prime scoring chances and major hits as well. I love this kid and this team is completely different without him in the lineup!

Busted bulbs

Vyborny with only 6 minutes last night. That was perhaps his final game in a CBJ sweater. He just doesn't have the game to fit into a Hitchcock system.

Rimer. Sounded a bit under the weather himself last night on the calls. Very subdued on his goal calls.

Michael Peca. Nice dish to Nash on the first goal but some real boneheaded penalties -- especially the grab on Kovalev to give the Canadiens that 5 on 3. Got to be smarter than that - that could have really changed momentum.
The Jackets as a whole took waaaay to many penalties. They are lucky their PK showed up last night..real lucky.

Fedorov with a charley horse (did some guy name Charley's horse get hurt or somethin to come up with that name.. I digress). The good news is that its day-to-day so it shouldn't hurt his trade value.

3 bright lights on the night

1. Pascal Leclaire - can't say enough about this guy's performance last night
2. Rick Nash - continues to lead an anemic offense with his 33rd on the year -- still dreaming of what this guy could do with Richards
3. Bob Gainey - an NHL legend honored

A big win last night but will it be enough to deter Scott Howson from breaking up this team? The Jackets are still 5 poitns out of the final playoff spot with 2 more games played than most of the teams ahead and behind them.

In short, I think he's still got to do what's best for this team long term while not completely depleting this team's chances at making a late push. I think the only player he may look to retain now is Adam Foote that two games ago he was probably going to offload. Hard to deal your captain and still convince your team to play hard for the post season.

3-2 on this 5 game road trip. Hard to look at that and say it was anything other than a success when you take into account the Jackets historically really struggle on the road. I'm definitely proud of the way these guys battled the past two games.

Next up is the trade deadline. Howson is certainly on the hot seat. We now will just sit back and see what happens. I'll have more later on my predictions taking everything into account such as standings, games played, pending UFAs, etc.

-LTL

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Untouchables

Puck-rakers just reported that the following players will not be traded according to GM Scott Howson:

Rick Nash
Nikolai Zherdev
Pascal Leclaire
Kris Russell
Derick Brassard
Jakub Voracek
Steve Mason

I sure hope to hell Jared Boll is on that list as well but I think they are talking more high profile young talents.

I think some fans will rest a little easier seeing that group retained.

So what's interesting are that Rusty Klesla and Gilbert Brule were left off that list.

Klesla, Brule and a pick for Richards? That rumor has been out there and that door is certainly left open.

OK Tollefsen and Marc Methot were also not named.

...and of course none of the UFA's to be in Fedorov, Foote, Peca, Vyborny, Hainsey, Hejda or Tarnstrom are, as expected, not named.

I think its very safe to say Nash, Zherdev and Leclaire have taken over the team - they are the core of cores although Z and Leclaire have to prove they can play to this year's level consistantly.

They still need veterans like Modin and Chimera and with Chimera being resigned and Modin being a Hitch favorite and having a NTC he certainly isn't going anywhere. The team does need a "Foote like" presence on the blueline to supliment the lineup and I'm sure there are plans to make sure that's there whether it be resigning #52, which is looking more and more unlikely, or bringing in someone via a trade or UFA in offseason.

The trade deadline is gonna get real interesting around these parts. With so many different possibilities its really hard to predict what is going to happen.

Its gonna be fun though.....I need to just call in to work Tuesday!

-LTL