directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Who stays, who goes?

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Who stays, who goes?

As I did last season (see previous post here) let's take a look at who may or may not be back for next season.

A little wrinkle in this edition is that I'm going to give you the percentage of how likely I think a particular player will be back (as oppposed to being dealt like I did last year) next season. Keep in mind this isn't exactly what I'd personally do just my gut on what Howson and co. are thinking:

100% - Steve Mason, Nikita Filatov, Derick Brassard & Jakub Voracek
Let's just get these guys out of the way quickly shall we? Howson believes that there are no short cuts and the best way to achieve long terms success in this league is by buidling through the draft. These are the four most important building blocks the Jackets have and they aren't goin anywhere.

100% - Mike Commodore
Commodore had a splendid year as a free agent signee. He notched 5g, 19a for 24 points in 81 games. He also finished a +11 and led the team in hits and blocked shots. He was a very valuable contributor both on and off the ice who will certainly be back for me next year. Besides, he's got a NTC that runs through next season!

99% - RJ Umberger
RJ had a great year notching a career high 26 goals and after a slow start became one of the Jackets most consistant performers. RJ plays the game the right way in all 3 zones. He also proved his worth in the playoffs leading all Jacket players with 3 goals. I leave a percentage point for the completely out of left field unknown but organizations win with guys like RJ and you don't let these guys go if you can help it (i.e. see the Flyers cap problems last year).

98% - Fedor Tyutin
Tyutin also turned in a career year leading all Jackets defensemen with 9g, 25a for 34p in 82 games. He also finished a +5. Tyutin got his first taste of playing in every situation and logging big time minutes. He responded well but like a lot of Jackets kind of wore down at season's end. Fedor is a big part of the future on this Jackets blueline and has a sweetheart contract to boot. He'll certainly be back.

98% - Jan Hejda
Like Tyutin Jan is signed to a very cap friendly deal at 2 mil per season over the next 2 years. He once again led all Jackets players in +/- recording an eye popping +23. He, like Tyutin, faded a bit down the stretch and definitely in the playoffs but he's a big minute eater and very reliable. He's not goin anywhere.

95% - Derek Dorsett
One word - playoffs. After the way this kid competed in the playoffs Howson would be out of his mind to move this kid. He's the glue.

95% - Antoinne Vermette
Came in like a ball of fire and really added some key punch for the Jackets final push into the 2nd season. Like a lot of Jackets Vermette's production fell down the stretch and into the playoffs. He will be heavily relied on next season to anchor one of those top 2 center positions.... and in fact I would not be surprised to see him signed to an extension. He'll definitely be back for next season at the very least and will play a significant role.

92% - Rick Nash
Any other year I'd say Nash is a 100% lock to be back...but this is a very important offseason for he and the Jackets as he will be a UFA after next year if an extension isn't reached this summer. I left the 8% in there incase negotiations hit snags and the Jackets are forced to deal him. An unlikely scenario but there are no locks until signatures are placed on the dotted line.

88% - Kristian Huselius
A pretty good regular season but forgettable playoffs. Juice has 3 years left on his deal at an average hit of 4.75 per season. I think Howson would listen if someone phoned but in this cap world I don't see a whole lot of teams willing to take on that contract. Regardless I think the Jackets knew what they were getting when they signed him and were for the most part happy with his season... at least his regular season.

85% - Raffi Torres
Finally started showing signs of health in the latter part of the season.. scored some big goals in a secondary scorers role and can bring a physical element when he wants too. Raffi will be in a contract year and I think the Jackets will expect a big year out of him. Remember Howson likes him b/c he can change the momentum of a game in multiple ways -- can't see them moving him.

85% - Rusty Klesla
After those playoffs Rusty ain't goin nowhere. In fact if he keeps that same level of play up during the regular season next year an extension will definitely be in order... heck they might try to hammer something out this summer. Need a healthy season from 97.

76% - Andrew Murray
He is what he is right....? A reliable 4th line grinder. An old chevy is what I like to call him. Dude never takes a stride off. He's a guy who is much more valuable to the Jackets than another team. He signed for 2 more years at .625 and .650. He's notched 8g, 3a and a -6 in 67g. More glue.

75% - Kris Russell
Russ went from a 7 point season last year to a 21 point season this year. That is marked improvement. Now he did have a team worst -10 (tied with RJ Umberger) but you just don't put in the kind of time it takes to development an offensive minded d-man only to turn around and trade him. Russ needs to work on getting bigger and stronger but unless something too good to be true falls in the Jackets lap Russ will be back and I expect an even better year out of him.

70% - Marc Methot
Showed he has what it takes to play in this league last season. Marc will be an RFA and the Jackets will definitely qualify him. Barring some kind of rediculous contract negotation/hold out I see no reason why Methot won't be patrolling the Jackets blueline next season. He finished with 4g, 13a and a +7 in 66 games. As we clearly saw last year we need the depth a player like Methot brings to this lineup. The only problem with a player like this is he could be used in a trade package to bring back an even better player which is why his percentage isn't higher.

68% - Jared Boll
I've seen a lot of chatter that fans wouldn't mind seeing Boll traded. I say that's crazy talk. Sure Boll didn't have the best of sophmore seasons (no more offseason shinny Boller!) but he still was second in the league in fighting majors and he's a lot less of a liability playing than a lot of tough guys in the league. Guys like Boll are very much needed, especially in the regular season. I still think the org sees him as a 10g, 10a 150 PIMS type of guy. Big year for him next season to really establish himself in this league.

65% - Jason Chimera
Started the season like gangbusters playing with the kids in Brassard in Voracek (that seems so long ago) then the dreaded "groin injury" struck and Choo Choo's game was never really able to recover. Chimera notched 8g, 14a for 22 points in 49g. I think the Jackets like him and he's got 3 years left on his deal @ 1.75 which would make him difficult to move. I don't think he's untradeable though and I could see him moved if Howson could get the right piece or pieces in return. I think he'll be a Jacket next season however.

65% - Freddy Modin
I know... I know.. the inury bug. Here's the thing with Modin.. when healthy this guy can really help. The problem of course is he can't stay healthy. He's got 1 year left on his deal and I believe he's got a NTC... the only option is to buy him out and I just can't see the Jackets doing that. Hitch loves the guy and I think they hang onto him and hope he rebounds in a contract season.

55% - Maksim Mayorov
Could be used as trade bait for immediate help but seeing how Howson values his young guys I just can't see him moving. He turned in a decent year in Syracuse notching 17g, 14a for 31p in 71 games. He's got pro size and speed and just needs some more polish. He could be an attractive piece to add to a trade package if Howson was lookin to return...saaaaayyy... a PPQB?

52% - Alexandre Picard
Picard will definitely be qualified after he just tore up the American league down the stretch. He finished with 22g, 10a for 32p in 49g. He's another guy who could be used in a trade but I really get the feeling the Jackets would like to see if his late season success can translate to some success at the NHL level. He's a guy to watch in the pre-season.

45% - Manny Malhotra
The one UFA I think the Jackets would like to retain. I personally think it's less likely Manny will be back than it is that he'll move on. I think the Jackets would like him back in that 3rd/4th hole but I feel that there will be teams who will offer him more both in years/money than the Jackets will feel comfortable matching. Manny will have to take a home town discount of sorts (i.e not much over 1.5 he made last season) to stay and I'm not sure he likes Columbus that much.

20% - Jason Williams
Williams provided some much needed secondary scoring at key times to help reach the playoffs. I really want to say the Jackets would like to keep him as he really comes across as a likeable guy but alas.. I think he'll want to much money to fit into Howson's salary structure and just doesn't bring all the elements in his game to make him worth the price he'll seek. I will say he is one guy that as the offseason rolls along and he's still hangin out there maybe the Jackets take another look at on a 1 year deal.

12% - Aaron Rome
I think they'll let Rome walk as a UFA. I think they are content with the development of guys like Sigalet/Clitsome/Holden and think they can fill that depth voided by Rome's departure.

10% - Jiri Novotny
The Jackets only signed centers are Brassard and Vermette so I'm leaving the window slightly cracked for Novotny.. but bottom line is he hasn't added a whole lot when he's been in the lineup. I don't think he even get's qualified.

10% - OK Tollefsen
Improved defensive depth, injuries and an inability to move the puck out of his zone consistantly will probably mark the end of OKT's career in union blue. Tollefsen will be a RFA and like Novotny, I don't think the Jackets qualify him. Certainly if they choose to keep one of Rome or OKT...Rome will have the edge.

1% - Wade Dubielewicz
Similar to Williams, "Dubie" seems like a great guy to be around. As we clearly saw though the organization has no trust in this guy and they absolutely must bring in a guy capable of 15 to 20 starts to give Mase some rest throughout the NHL grind. They would have to strike out early and often in this year's UFA backup goalie crop to consider bringing Dubie back in the fold.

0% - Michael Peca
I just no longer see Peca as part of the Jackets future. He was 12th on the team in scoring in 4g, 18a and a -6 in 71 games. He was most effective on the PK. I just just get the feeling the Jackets aren't high on his performance... they expected more offensively, more leadership and he seemed to play not to get hurt.... This is just me speculating here but I don't think they are in love with Peca's attitude either.

0% - Christian Backman
If there was a negative value I could assign to someone it would be this player. The Jackets took on the salary dump from the Rangers in order to get Tyutin and what a dump it was. I'm sure Backman is a very nice guy but his game absolutely did not work here.

0% - Chris Gratton
No brainer here.

0% - Michael York
A low risk high reward move that unfortunately did not pay any dividends for the big squad. York is just too slow and the game has passed him by. He did turn in a decent season for the Crunch but he won't be back.

There are certainly some other pieces out there like a Clitsome, Holden, Sigalet, Lalande, LaCosta, MacKenzie, Blunden, Sestito to name a few. One or two of those guys could be dealt but for this post I wanted to focus on the players on or close to making the big squad.

What's interesting this year from last is I don't see a whole lot of trade possibilites. The guys that I think the org desperately wants to unload are all unrestricted free agents. Of course if Howson wants to swing a move something will have to give and I think that's when you have to start lookin at guys like Chimera, Methot, Picard, Mayorov or maybe a Klesla.

I think it's going to be a pretty quiet offseason. The foundation is there as well as the core and a big part of next year's team will be improvement from within. This offseason will be getting contract extensions completed and filling in some gaps which I'll talk about over the next couple of days.



Chris said...

What are your thoughts on OKT? I personally think it is somewhere close to the 0-5% range for the same reasons you gave for Rome.

DP@WFNY said...

OKT's problem continues to be health, IMHO.

Love the list, LTL. I would like for Manny to come back on the 3rd line (in Peca's spot), and I think a full season of Brassy and Filatov makes this club that much better already. "Starting" roster I would like to see next year:




So, to me, the only "hole" they need to go out and fill is the 4th center, and I don't know that they can't get that from within. Obviously, some guys would be on the bench with this group (Chimmer? Picard?) and I can't imagine Filatov is going to play 75 games next year.

LTL said...

Crap.. missed OKT.. I'll throw him out there.. but he'd be about 10% for me.. I don't think they even qualify him to be honest..

DP -- nice lineup and we are definitely on the same page. The only other "hole" for me is a PPQB of some sort.. Obviously the J-bos (can't afford him) or Kaberles (won't give up the pieces to trade for him) won't fit here so it would have to be a tier down from that level of player.. I'd love to add a Zidlicky type guy.

Obviously we'd need to add a capable backup as well.


Wally said...

Backman should be a negative percentage, as in, can't get the guy out of town quick enough :-)

I think your rundown is pretty good... I would have had Williams & Manny a little higher, but it's hard to imagine with the Filatov & Brass pushing in, who will be shoved out. Manny's got the heart & Williams has some skills, but it might be roster room vs. contracts vs. skills vs. heart.

What a great situation to have, huh?

Max said...

To be honest I wouldn't mind seeing Malhotra gone. You know he's going to demand more money as he was the "#1" center this year. At the end of the year and in the playoffs, I thought he made some real bone head plays that cost us goals (Who tries to catch a shot with a forward glove?!). I'd like to see Gratton in that 4th line role. The 3 games he played with the Jackets were well played by him.

I think Rusty's postseason play really opened some eyes in the organization and around the league. The dude stepped up in a huge way. He's got a decent contract, and if packaged, I think he could bring that PPQB in that we need.

I still think that the second priority for Howson is to bring in a solid backup. Mason shouldn't have to play more than 65-70 games a year, I'd say more towards the 70. If the backup can win at least 6 of the 12, we're solid.

Call me crazy, but I'd like to see York resigned with the Crunch. They could use him down there. Hell, maybe even sign Gratton down there.

Stephen said...

I love how most CBJ fans are all on the same page. I think we are all VERY excited about the youth, and upside potential of this team. The one exception seems to be Manny. I agree with LTL, we'll make an offer, however he will probably get more on the open market.

LTL - Hopefully, we will be able to take a look at possible targets (PPQBs?)

Love this blog!

LTL said...

Oh yeah Stephen.. I'll definitely deep dive into the PPQB options.

I've got lots of topics to blog about to keep you CBJ junkies comin back for more :)

As always though if there is something else you'd like me to blog about just fire away -- I'll definitely work it in!


Anonymous said...

Ironically, what we were weak at last season due to the Brassard injury, we are very strong at the center position now that Brassard is returning to the lineup. It would be interesting to see, but we definitely need to trade/dump malhotra or chimmera. What if we traded one of our centers umberger/vermette for a nasty winger to go along on the second line?

Rick said...

Keep Williams as a 3rd line Center, with Manny as the 4th. As much as it kills me to say this, Peca didn't give the CBJ a good enough reason to keep him.

rocket said...

Man, Russell at 75%? Not that I necessarily disagree with this but it hurts to see that... I really like his game and think he's a great asset, the negative P/M will improve... and nasher below 100% also hurts to look at, get that deal fast.

Totally 100% absolutely agree with Peca, no brainer there... Sorry Michael