directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: 06/01/2009 - 07/01/2009

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Howson will show Nash the cash

Lots of good early signs coming from both the Jackets camp and the Nash camp today.

The Dispatch has some good info in an blog post and their chat session. Some highlights:


Howson called the meeting to share with Nash and Resnick his vision for the Blue Jackets future: how the club will be built, where Nash fits in, how other clubs have been built with elite players, etc.

"I wanted Rick to see what we have planned and how big a part of it he is," Howson said. "We've had conversations before, but none of this length."

Both Howson and Resnick agreed that it's highly unlikely a contract extension will be signed on Wednesday.

"This is just the start of the process," Resnick said.

"I've come up right through the ranks, now the captain," Nash said. "I love the organization. I love everything about it. But it's a matter of business. Nobody wants to rob the other person, we just both want to be satisfied."

I like part from the chat from Portzline:

Just talking to Rick, he said he's torn between a 4 or 5 year deal and the idea of having a monster long-term deal, say in the 10-year range. I get the sense that he'd sign the latter if the money was right. My guess is he'll make in the $6.5M to $8M range per year. Cap hit around $7M to $7.5M.

The AP has a story up as well with some juicy quotes:

His agent, Joe Resnick, said Tuesday that Nash loves Columbus and the Blue Jackets. But that only goes so far.

"Confident of a deal? It's really up to the Blue Jackets," he said. "We're definitely going to listen and take in everything they have to say. Hopefully we can get a deal done."

"Obviously, he's what makes this car run," said 20-year-old goalie Steve Mason, the NHL's rookie of the year. "He's our leader. It'll be an important piece to get him signed, hopefully for a long term."

"Term is definitely a huge factor," Resnick said. "Rick could do a long-term deal, based on his age, and then come out of it at 33 or 34 and still have several years ahead of him."

"For us to make splashes in the free-agent market and for guys to want to come here, having his name signed long-term is a big important piece," forward R.J. Umberger said. "Nowadays anything is possible. People are moving around so much. You just never know. You just hope with these long contracts that they're doing these days that can help keep a player with a team for a long time."

If you're a fan of getting Rick Nash signed to a long term extension there are a ton of positives to be gleaned from quotes like these.

I have been following the NHL for a long time. Anyone who reads this blog knows I like to read into what is said and in a lot of cases, what isn't.

There have been a lot of negotiations that I have followed and to have both parties expressing such interest publicly liks these is an extremely good sign.

This is gonna get done folks.... and I think it's gonna get done very quickly.

Both sides are motivated.

Howson has the salary structure available to make Nash a very fair offer. He knows how important it is to keep his franchise player and captain happy and as the focal point of this franchise. He knows he is only going to get better. Remember he's only 25! Players like this absolutely do not come along oftern.

Nash is the captain and the franchise. He freely admits he loves the city. He sees the talent sprouting up all around him. He sees the direction. He sees the leadership. He sees the steps taken. The grass will not be greener elsewhere.

After reading the latest quotes from both sides, I'm now guessing Nash gets extended in that 8 to 10 year range. It will be front loaded and I agree with Portzline that it will be an average cap hit in the neighborhood of 7 to 8 mil.

It will be a helluva committment from both sides, but one that makes a helluva lot of sense.

Exciting times. Get it done boys.


Umberger snubbed

I was just sent this link from Ryan. It's the USA Olympics camp invites:

Goaltenders: Ryan Miller, Jonathan Quick, Tim Thomas

Defencemen: Tom Gilbert, Tim Gleason, Ron Hainsey, Erik Johnson, Jack Johnson, Mike Komisarek, Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik, Brian Rafalski, Rob Scuderi, Ryan Suter, Ryan Whitney

Forwards: David Backes, David Booth, Dustin Brown, Dustin Byfuglien, Ryan Callahan, Chris Drury, Scott Gomez, Patrick Kane, Ryan Kesler, Phil Kessel, Jamie Langenbrunner, Ryan Malone, Mike Modano, Kyle Okposo, T.J. Oshie, Zach Parise, Joe Pavelski, Bobby Ryan, Paul Stastny.

So let me get this straight. Umberger and his 26 goals (46 points) aren't invited over guys like Okposo (39 points), Oshie (39 points) and Callahan (40 points)? Those guys are some good young players with loads of potential but you can't tell me they would add more right now than an Umberger could for the 2010 US Olympic team.

He has done plenty to at least garner an invite to camp. His work alone in the playoffs shows he knows how to get it done when the games matter the most.

I'm sorry but what a crock of sh** for RJ.


Monday, June 29, 2009

2009 Free Agency Preview - Centers

This is the third and final entry in a series of posts I will be presenting this offseason as we build up to the July 1st free agency period.

You can view the first entry on defensemen here.

You can view the second entry on goaltenders here.

This entry will focus on unrestricted free agent centers.

The Jackets appear to be set in their top 6 with both Derick Brassard and Antoinne Vermette expected to anchor those top two lines center slots.

What they need is to address their 3rd and 4th line center positions.

The organization would like to bring back Manny Malhotra to anchor that 3rd line but with July 1st being less than a day away the chances of that happening are slim.

Scott Howson has publicly stated that the organization will look to fill the 4th line center hole from within. The names of Mike Blunden, Derek MacKenzie, Andrew Murray and Derek Dorsett have been bandied about.

This post will focus on players that can fill that 3rd line center role. What the Jackets will be focusing on is a cost effective player that can shut down other team's top players, PK, win faceoffs and contribute some offensively.

If Malhotra ends up re-signing then this list becomes moot.

John Madden
ASSETS: Is an outstanding penalty-killer and versatile enough to play any role on a hockey club. Has great speed, sound fundamentals and an excellent work ethic.
FLAWS: At this point he will never put up huge numbers in the NHL, which makes him a less-than-ideal top six pivot. Can go long stretches without a point.
CAREER POTENTIAL: Checking line center.

Age: 36
2008 stats: 76 7 16 23 -7 26
2008 salary: 2.93

Outlook: It looks like Madden's time in New Jersey has come to a close. I can see the Jackets being very interested in obtaining Madden's services. He is Hitch type competitor in every sense. He does alot of things extremely well. The questions are how much and how long? I can't see Howson going much higher than a 2 year 4 million dollar offer as he is 36 and his point production did take a sharp drop last season.

Brendan Morrison
ASSETS: Is an excellent skater and playmaker. Has racked up points at every level. Is an important player on special teams and a decent face-off man.
FLAWS: Usually avoids heavy traffic areas, since he's smallish in stature and not physical. Lacks the offensive consistency to play a first-line role.
CAREER POTENTIAL: Versatile forward.

Age: 33
2008 stats: 81 16 15 31 3 32
2008 salary: 2.75

Outlook: Morrison spurned the Jackets offer last offseason as he wished to remain on the west coast. However if he wants a job this offseason he'll need to keep his options open. What may interest Howson this time around is even though Morrison's numbers dropped, he is a guy who can play just about anywhere in your lineup. He could look good next to a Filatov on the 3rd line or if there is an injury would certainly not look out of place next to a Rick Nash. If he hangs out there I wouldn't rule him out. A big drawback is he isn't a defensive shutdown guy.

Todd Marchant
ASSETS: Has a strong reputation for his penalty-killing, checking and leadership ability. Is still an above-average skater.
FLAWS: Doesn't have great hands and lacks the confidence to consistently finish off plays. Isn't big and tends to wear down against big centers.
CAREER POTENTIAL: Two-way center.

Age: 35
2008 stats: 72 5 13 18 -2 34
2008 salary: 2.66

Outlook: We've seen this episode before eh Jacket fans? This time around if Marchant is brought on board it won't be billed as a 1st line center savior like a certain other general manager sold it as a few years back. With new management in charge there may be a fit here although I see Marchant pretty far Howson's wish list mostly because he doesn't add much, if any, offense.

Mike Sillinger
ASSETS: Possesses good two-way instincts and playmaking ability. Does anything asked of him. Excels on face-offs and can line up at all three forward positions.
FLAWS: Struggles in the goal-scoring department, and is much more suited to playing on a checking line than as a top-six forward.
CAREER POTENTIAL: Two-way center.

Age: 37
2008 stats: 7 2 0 2 -5 0
2008 salary: 2.30

Outlook: Another former Jackets who has played for just about every NHL team out there -- heck wasn't he a Colorado Rockie at some point? Although extremely experienced Sillinger has suffered some big time injuries over the past year and it does appear father time has caught up to him. I don't see a fit.

P.J. Axelsson
ASSETS: Possesses work ethic that is second to none. Has sound two-way and penalty-killing ability. Can play in any situation.
FLAWS: Will never contend for any scoring records. Is a dedicated checker, but his lack of bulk can be a disadvantage when he's trying to shut down big power forwards.
CAREER POTENTIAL: Two-way winger.

Age: 34
2008 stats: 75 6 24 30 -1 16
2008 salary: 1.85

Outlook: His strengths and salary certainly fall in the ballpark but I believe Axelsson is more of a winger than a center. You certainly know what you'll get with P.J every night. I put him squarely on the "maybe" list if other preferred options fall through and the Jackets brass believe he can play full time at center.

Radek Bonk
ASSETS: Possesses a great package: Size for the center position, hockey sense, excellent defensive skills and sound fundamentals.
FLAWS: Doesn't play a physical game at all, despite his size. Appears to have lost his scoring touch. Lacks grit and passion.
CAREER POTENTIAL: Checking line center.

Age: 33
2008 stats: 66 9 16 25 -12 34
2008 salary: 1.60

Outlook: Personally I'm just not a fan of Bonk. Some of his strengths fit what the Jackets are looking for but his game is too invisible too many nights for my liking. I hope the Jackets pass.

Samuel Pahlsson
ASSETS: Has good instincts and defensive prowess. Is strong on his skates and works hard. Excels in defensive situations.
FLAWS: Needs to produce more points at the NHL level. Doesn't shoot enough when in good scoring position.
CAREER POTENTIAL: Checking line center.

Age: 31
2008 stats: 65 7 11 18 -17
2008 salary: 1.40

Outlook: If the Jackets don't really care about picking up a center who adds some offense then Phalsson may be their man. He's definitely a guy whose proven he can shut down other team's top lines and I can see Hitch absolutely loving this guy. He did have some injury issues last season and his lack of offense is a concern.

Dominic Moore
ASSETS: Has excellent hockey sense and two-way instincts. Always gives maximum effort on the ice. Leads by example with every shift.
FLAWS: Is smallish in stature. Lacks offensive acumen. Will have to battle extra hard just to keep a job at the NHL level.
CAREER POTENTIAL: Checking center.

Age: 28
2008 stats: 81 13 32 45 -2 92
2008 salary: 900k

Outlook: Moore is a guy I'd love for the Jackets to add to their mix. He had a bit of a breakout year last season notching a career high 45 points so the risk you take in signing him is if he can duplicate that performance. He got plenty of PP time and top 6 minutes in Toronto which he wouldn't get here so that will effect is point production. Like Morrison though by signing a guy like Moore you hedge a bit against injury to Vermette/Brassard which is never a bad thing. Moore will probably be too rich for the Jackets blood however.

Chad LaRose
ASSETS: Displays a ton of energy with every shift, and isn't afraid of mixing it up--despite a lack of size. Possesses decent offensive instincts.
FLAWS: Must prove he can play aggressively at the NHL level over the long haul. Needs to add more upper-body strength. Is not a natural goal-scorer by any means.
CAREER POTENTIAL: Checking line winger.

Age: 27
2008 stats: 81 19 12 31 6 35
2008 salary: 875k

Outlook: Appears to be more effective at wing than at center which is unfortunate for our needs. If Howson and co. believe LaRose can be an effective center he is certainly a guy who would have to interest them. He put some up some decent numbers and plays a strong 2 way game. He really impressed in the playoffs but as forecaster suggest - can he keep up that strong level of play?

Vernon Fiddler
ASSETS: Plays with hockey smarts, displays two-way capability and sound face-off skills. Can play either wing or center.
FLAWS: Lacks offensive upside, isn't big or overly physical. Doesn't display enough offensive consistency to secure more ice time.
CAREER POTENTIAL: Bottom six forward.

Age: 29
2008 stats: 78 11 6 17 -13 24
2008 salary: 900k

Outlook: Fiddler is a guy we Jacket fans are very familiar with. He has a motor that doesn't seem to ever stop (at least against the CBJ). He doesn't put up a whole lot of offense but he just the type of guy you always notice out there on the ice. He still in his prime at 29 and is certainly on Howson's radar. The -13 stands out though.

Blair Betts
ASSETS: Has good size for the pivot position and solid two-way skills. Displays leadership qualities and a sound work ethic.
FLAWS: Has limited scoring and/or playmaking ability. Also doesn't have the greatest skating ability, which limits his effectiveness in the NHL.
CAREER POTENTIAL: Checking line center.

Age: 29
2008 stats: 81 6 4 10 -5 16
2008 salary: 615k

Outlook: Certainly has the size Hitch would love but not a whole lot offensively. If the Jackets were lookin for a 4th line center Betts would look really good there. Maybe a guy the Jackets feel could be coached up a bit. Wouldn't completely rule him out but it would take a lot of strikes before they seriously consider him -- at least for that 3rd line hole.

Tomas Kopecky
ASSETS: Has a very projectable frame, sound two-way instincts and plenty of scoring potential. Is also a versatile forward in the Red Wings mold.
FLAWS: Must add significant bulk in order to make his mark on the NHL. Has a tendency to take games off, which won't cut it in the big league.
CAREER POTENTIAL: Third line winger.

Age: 27
2008 stats: 79 6 13 19 -7 46
2008 salary: 525k

Outlook: Another guy who has played more wing than center. The price could be right here but the Jackets would have to be convinced Kopecky could hold down a center spot. I think they look for more experience playing in that shutdown hole.

I would be fine with Manny coming back for the right terms but if he doesn't here is my personal wishlist:

1. John Madden
2. Dominic Moore
3. Brendan Morrison
4. Samuel Phalsson
5. Chad LaRose (only if the org was confident he could play center)

We'll see how it shakes out over the next couple of days.


Cap space.. the new frontier

A nice quick reference in terms of players signed vs. cap space that I grabbed from the Canadiens web site.

The Jackest have 18 players with over 17 mil left on the cap. We know as a budget team that they won't be spending near it.

Jackets a draft "winner" according to Puck-daddy:

Columbus Blue Jackets: Winners, because they seem to really love the John Moore pick. Big kid, good skater, and dropped more than they thought he would, which required them to trade up after already trading down. There's still no indication whether Moore will go to Colorado College or Kitchener, though. It'd probably be better for his development to get some Major Junior games under his belt though.



Remember today is the final day teams can qualify their restricted free agents.

According to the Dispatch here are the Jackets restricted free agents:

Forwards: Alexandre Picard, Michael Blunden, Petr Pohl and John Vigilante,

Defensemen: Marc Methot, Aaron Rome, Ole-Kristian Tollefsen, Jonathan Sigalet, Jon Landry, Kyle Wharton and Trevor Hendrikx, and goaltender Dan LaCosta.

The ones I bolded are who I expect to be qualified for sure although I think Aaron Rome is actually a UFA and not an RFA.

I'll update this post once we find out what is what.

Update: Puck-rakers reports that Picard, Blunden, Methot, Sigalet and LaCosta were indeed qualified today.

OK Tollefsen's days a Jacket are over which does not come as surprise to me. I loved the way OKT competed and this dude has balls of solid rock. Alas the depth Howson has built up on the blueline, his health and inability to move the puck consistantly out of his own zone are ultimately the main reasons why the Jackets moved in a different direction.

Good luck to OKT and all the players who were not qualified today. I'm sure many will land on their feet in other organizations.


Random thougths

* Development camp starts today. I'd love to get down there today but unfortunately I can't swing 2:45 to 4:15. Wed and Thurs are better bets for me. If anyone makes it down I'd love to hear your reports. You can find the complete roster here.

Here is the full on-ice schedule:

Monday, June 29 - 2:45 to 4:15 p.m.
Tuesday, June 30 - 10:30 a.m. to Noon
Wednesday, July 1 - 10:30 a.m. to Noon
Thursday, July 2 - 10:30 a.m. to Noon

* John Moore became the first American ever drafted by the Jackets in the first round.

* Pretty cool that 5 of the Jackets 6 picks will actually make the development camp this week. Only Swede Anton Blomqvist won't make it.

* I have to admit -- with both Schroeder and Moore still available when the 21st pick rolled around I would have been thrilled with either. While Moore is certainly a steal I think the Canucks had the steal of the draft netting Schroeder at 22. I really think that kid is going to be a Parise type of player.

* What is up with the Flyers paying a king's ranson to land Chris Pronger? I mean Lupul, Sbisa and two first round picks for a guy who only has 1 year left on his deal? Pronger is a beast and typically the team who acquires the best player in a deal eventually wins the trade but wow, that is a lot to give up. Flyers better hope they can get him extended.

* Hard to believe but free agency is only two days away. #1 goal of course is to get Rick Nash extended. As I've stated before, don't expect much if anything out of the Jackets on the first day. In fact the read I'm getting is that Howson is going to be very patient this year and will wait to see how things shake out. That is a pretty good strategy considering our needs and budget. I could see a lot of good players still be available after the initial splash.

* My top 10 Jackets prospects now that the '09 draft has concluded are:

1. Derick Brassard
2. Nikita Filatov
3. John Moore
4. Cody Goloubef
5. Maksim Mayorov
6. Kevin Lynch
7. Kevin Lalande
8. Michael Blunden
9. Grant Clitsome
10. Matt Calvert

HM: Weber, Ruth, Holden, LaCosta, Legein, Picard, Regner

What's really interesting is that once Brass and Filatov graduate this season the Jackets primary strength in the pipeline is going to be defensemen. That was obviously identified as a major weakness when Howson came aboard and he has certainly worked diligently to address it.

* If you're keeping score out there the Ottawa Sens used the Jackets 2nd round pick they acquired in the Leclaire/Vermette deal to land goalie Robin Lehner.

* One can never truly grade a draft class until 4 to 5 years later but without the benefit of hindsight I'm gonna give this draft a B+. Moore is an A+, Lynch a B, Savard an A-, Larkin a B, Blomqvist a B- and Neuber a C.

* I personally give Scott Howson an 'A' for being aggressive and working what the draft gave him.

* It appears Manny won't be signed prior to July 1st. I'm glad Howson is sticking to his guns here because even though we don't know the numbers, I get the sense Manny is over-valuing himself. He'll probably get more than we are offering but there will be other options that I believe will be a bigger bang for the buck.

* Here is a lost of the top 50 free agents set to hit the market come July 1st. The only Jacket on the list is Jason Williams.

* The Jackets have signed a 28 year old Swede by the name of Daniel Steiner to a pro try-out contract. His stats can be found here.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Day 2

Good vid here with the Jackets 2nd round pick Kevin Lynch and 4th round pick David Savard (that kid looks like a monster):

Be sure to check out Breakfast with the Blue Jackets on -- they have new interviews with Scott Howson, Tyler Wright and the Jackets #1 pick John Moore.

Check out these draft stats from THN:

Canada led all countries with 102 players selected at the NHL draft, down from 120 in 2008 but the same number as in 2007.

The United States had 55 players chosen, up 10 from last year, although it had none in the top 15.

Sweden had 24 chosen, up seven from 2008 and there were 10 from Finland, a gain of three. Slovakia had five after not having a player drafted last year.

The thing about the Russians though is that even though they don't have the quantity they certainly produce quality -- which of course is the reason they are alway so damn good at the international tournaments.

That and the lack of a transfer agreement doesn't help.

Good and bad. Good that both Tavares and Hedman went to the East. Bad that we won't get to see them play that often.

THN also picked the Jackets as a draft "winner":

Columbus: Taking a page out of the New York Islanders book, the Jackets stockpiled on second and late-rounders to move down a little in the first round. They could afford to make a move like that because of all the strong prospects they have stepping into the NHL right now: Derrick Brassard, Nikita Filatov, Kris Russell, Jakub Voracek and, of course, Steve Mason to name a few.
Further, their first trade set up a later trade to move up a few spots to take John Moore – ranked 16th by International Scouting Services – 21st overall. Moore, who has a very projectable 6-foot-2, 185-pound frame, skates like the wind and is, or is at least among, the very best skaters in the draft – perfect in the NHL and perfect for a team with such a decrepit power play.

So did USA Today:

Dazzling skater John Moore, a defenseman, was a high value pick at No. 21, and center Kevin Lynch could be a sleeper.

Allen Muir also weighed in on the Moore selection:

(9:56) And that's why the Blue Jackets move up. They get Moore, a great value pick at this point of the night. He's one of the best skaters in the draft and has a real sharp eye with the puck. He'll key their transition game and be an ideal QB for a power play that's held them back as other elements have come together under coach Ken Hitchcock.

(9:53) Anaheim trades pick 21 to Columbus for 26 and 37. Dropping five slots to pick up a second rounder? Nice asset management by Bob Murray. If you're a Ducks fan, you have to love the night your team has had. And that's a steep price for the Jackets. They must have targetted someone to help their blueline. Moore?

As a couple of folks pointed out in the comments of another post - something is going to have to give in Calgary after they acquired the rights to Bouwmeester.

Assuming they get him signed for around 7 mil per year that would make the 4th player on the Flames roster who makes 7 million or more dollars. The best bet here is that Dion Phaneuf has played his last game as a Flame.

He's certainly a guy I'd love to add but I can't see the Jackets adding his salary or giving up the assets it would take to acquire him.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

More with Moore

I'm estatic the Jackets were able to land John Moore. Just a great pick and I loved Scott Howson's aggressivenes on the draft floor.

Howson also moved up to the 2nd round today and grabbed a kid by the name of Kevin Lynch out of the USNTP with the 56th overall pick.

Lynch is a 6'1" 190lb center who is ranked #100 on Central Scouting's rankings. He notched 18g, 19a for 37p in 54 games last year. The only downside is he'll be playing for Michigan next season.

That makes two yanks with the Jackets first two picks.

I'll have much more on the draft over the next couple of days.


Friday, June 26, 2009

Draft flashback

Rick Nash - 2002

Derick Brassard - 2006

Jakub Voracek - 2007

Nikita Filatov - 2008

Jackets Draft Special - 2007


This and that

November 17, 2005. Remember that date?

Here is a refresher:

Ahh.. the city was buzzing after that one. I remember saying to myself if you would have told me that Jackets would have both Adam Foote and Sergei Fedorov in their lineup the season after the lockout I'd say you were nuts.

Of course it backfired as the problems with this franchise ran much deeper than a couple of over-the-hill "names" could fix. Lookin back though that move could be classified as Doug MacLean's final attempt to save his job in Columbus.

..and who knew Beauchemin would go on to develop into the player he became?

I bring this up because yesterday it became official that Fedorov's hall of fame NHL career basically came to a close as he signed a 2 year deal to play with Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL.

Good luck to you Sergei.

So how about the news of the Jackets 2nd round pick from the '07 draft Will Weber getting busted for stealing a purse and underage drinking?

Weber claims it was by accident and that he thought it was his friend's purse.

Haha.. sure Will.

I'm the last guy that will criticize a young kid for going out and having some fun at/around college as certainly I have no room to talk. I'm sure this was just a case of making a bad decision in the moment.

We've all been there right?

The key is to learn from it and not to make the same mistake again. Like it or not athletes are always under the microscope more than the average joes out there and you have to be extra careful as to not draw attention for all the wrong reasons.

Weber will be just fine.

Finally I wanted to pass along an update about our favorite little hockey fan Coryn!

She will be in a production in Dublin titled "Dude! Where's My Hair?". The Dispatch has a fantastic article on the event:

Six Columbus-area children who've lost their hair to chemotherapy will share their stories Sunday of as part of a production to benefit the Hair Theater Wig Fund, which pays for wigs for those who lose their hair during treatment.

Halfway through her yearlong reign as Little Queen of the Jackson County Apple Festival, Coryn Lord learned that she had leukemia.

Her mother, Cathy Lord, had noticed bruises on her daughter's arms and legs and, after talking to a school nurse, took Coryn to see a doctor.

"I had joked that I was being overly cautious," said Mrs. Lord, of Jackson, Ohio. "When the doctor came back, I could tell by the look on her face that something was wrong."

The diagnosis came on Coryn's sixth birthday, in 2005.

What followed was 10 months of treatment, including chemotherapy. Coryn lost her long, wavy, chestnut-colored hair and had to use a skin adhesive to keep her Little Queen crown on her head during festival visits.

"I love my hair, so it was kind of rough for me," said Coryn, now 10. "It was scary."

Coryn's story -- from cancer and chemo to hair loss and recovery -- is among six to be told Sunday as part of a fundraising production at the Abbey Theater in Dublin.

The children themselves -- three girls and three boys ages 6 to 20 -- will take center stage in Dude! Where's My Hair?, a series of monologues with theatrical additions such as a guitar solo, a running skit about a lost wig and the Mexican Hat Dance.

You can read more from the Dispatch here.

I am told by Coryn's mom Kathy that "this show will be performed again in the fall and will have the support and backing of the CBJ Foundation as well as some player participation at that time."

As she keeps me updated I will certainly pass them along to all of you.

If you would like to learn more about Coryn and her family I had a post them a few months back. You can check that one out here.

...and not to worry Jared Boll -- I am also told by her mom that even though their summer is "busy, busy, busy"....they are "finding time to head to the draft party tonight to see the "son-in-law"".

Love it!


With the 16th pick the Columbus Blue Jackets select... of the following 5 players:

NHL Central Scouting’s Jack Barzee
“I watched John Moore as an underage player and I knew he was a must see player for this year; he hasn’t disappointed me one bit. His first two strides are like Paul Coffey and he has been labeled as a world-class skater. He is poised with the puck, he gets his shots through to the net and he has gotten a lot stronger this season. He resembles (Calgary Flames) defenseman Jordan Leopold and similar to Leopold at the same age he needs to get a little bit better at playing more aggressive and more physical, but John is going to be a one-two defenseman in the NHL.”

NHL Central Scouting’s Chris Edwards
"Kassian is one of the toughest guys in the OHL and probably the entire draft. Last season as an under-ager there were overage guys in the league who would not take him on. He has not fought much this season (because) he has not had to. He is at his best when he is playing physical and tough along the boards. He protects the puck very well and fights through checks. He has very good play-making and puck-handling abilities."

NHL Central Scouting’s Chris Edwards
“He's a really smart, heady defenseman. His puck movement is excellent and the way he moves the puck around the zone is excellent. He's a real high-end offensive guy. He's got a great shot and he gets it through to the net. A lot of guys have their shots blocked, but he's got a real knack for getting it through, and that leads to a lot of tip-in and rebound goals. He's a smaller guy, but he's not afraid of taking the body. He shows no fear of getting involved in scrums, he's not intimidated.”

NHL European Scouting Service
“Oliver likes to play offensively, often carrying the puck into the neutral zone. He has the frame, speed and skill to dominate. He is a smooth skater and can handle the puck at top speed, but needs to use his size to his advantage more. He often quarterbacks the power-play and has a hard shot from the blue line.”

Director of European Scouting Goran Stubb
“He has a very good shot. He is a right-handed shot and he is used on the power play, even in the (Elite) League despite being a young player. He is a very smart player. He could be a little more physical in his game, but that is something that he is learning.”

Also some trade nuggets from Puck-rakers:

The Blue Jackets have had trade talks with at least four clubs, but they've all been draft pick trades.

GM Scott Howson wants to be prepared to move up in the order if the four or five players they've targeted start disappearing from the board. He also wants to have deals in place to move back a couple/few spots if a few of those player remain on the board at No. 16.

So far, Howson said, he's had no discussions regarding players currently on the Blue Jackets' roster.

Whelp you see the five players I'm speculating them to be interested in. Note - I have absolutely no inside information -- just my own personal dot connecting.

1st LTL draft @ 1:00 P.M. EST.

1st NHL draft pick @ 7:00 EST.

See you all at the draft parties!



Thursday, June 25, 2009

How can this be?

Check out the following:

ESPN's John Buccigross told Pratt and Taylor Thursday that Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo has agreed to terms on a long-term extension that will officially be announced July 1st.

That's great and all if you're a Canuck fan but what happened to not being able to negotiate an extension for a signed player entering the final year of his contract until after July 1st?

If this is the case then I certainly hope Scott Howson has gotten the wheels in motion behind the scenes with Nasher. The best news any Jacket fan could hope for come July 1st would be the announcement that Rick Nash has been signed to a long term extension.

Now that I think about it I believe the San Jose Sharks announced an extensino for Joe Thornton on July 1st a couple of years back as well.

Get on it Scott.

Update: Luongo's agent denies report that the goalie has an extension, says it will take some time


LTL Mock Draft

I'm usually pretty craptastic at these but what the hell, let's give it a whirl:

1.NY Islanders: John Tavares C 6-0/195 L (London, OHL)

2.Tampa Bay Lightning: Victor Hedman D 6-6/220 L (MODO, Swe)

3.Colorado Avalanche: Matt Duchene C 5-11/200 L (Brampton, OHL)

4.Atlanta Thrashers: Brayden Schenn C 6-0/198 L (Brandon, WHL)

5.Los Angeles Kings: Evander Kane C 6-1/176 L (Vancouver, WHL)

6.Phoenix Coyotes: Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson LW 6-1/201 L (Timra, Swe)

7.Toronto Maple Leafs: Jared Cowen D 6-5/220 L (Spokane, WHL)

8.Dallas Stars: Jordan Schroeder C 5-8/175 R (Minnesota, WCHA)

9.Ottawa Senators: Dmitry Kulikov D 6-0/183 L (Drummondville, QMJHL)

10.Edmonton Oilers: Ryan Ellis D 5-9/173 R (Windsor, OHL)

11.Nashville Predators: Nazem Kadri C 5-11/167 L (London, OHL)

12.Minnesota Wild: John Moore D 6-2/189 L (Chicago, USHL)

13.Buffalo Sabres: Zack Kassian RW 6-3/210 R (Peterborough, OHL)

14.Florida Panthers: David Rundblad D 6-2/189 R (Skelleftea, Swe)

15.Anaheim Ducks: Scott Glennie RW 6-1/177 R (Brandon, WHL)

16.Columbus Blue Jackets: Oliver Ekman-Larsson D 6-2/176 L (Leksand, Swe)

I just feel like somebody is gonna fall and OEL seems to be falling like a rock on many of the mocks out there. These never go as planned so I'm guessing OEL falls right into the Jackets lap.

Other possibilites:
Carter Ashton RW 6-2/205 L (Lethbridge, WHL)
Jacob Josefson C 6-0/187 L (Djurgarden, Swe)

Sleeper pick:
Chris Kreider C 6-2/201 L (Andover, HIGH-MA)

If I were a betting man I'd say we end up with one of the following 5 players:

Ryan Ellis
Zach Kassian
John Moore
Oliver Ekman-Larsson
David Rundblad

Fire away - any player in particular that you have your eye on?


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Congrats Hitch!

As you've probably heard by now Hitch has been named as an assistant coach to the 2010 Team Canada Olympic team.

That is one helluva an honor and just goes to show we have one of the best coaching right here in Columbus.

Now maybe he can steal some PP strategies from Babcock.... that or sneak a Lidstrom back in his duffle bag.


Quote of the day and more draft!!

I thought this quote was a classic line from the Leafs' Brian Burke:

"I don't give a rat's ass what they do in Pittsburgh or Detroit," said Burke. "There's been four different Cup winners the last four years, and I got one of them (Anaheim) and it was a fighting team. We're playing it that way regardless."

I'm glad he's not the Jackets GM as I'm just fine with the low key Howson but he is an entertaining quote.

Also if you're interseted in Kubina or Kaberle make note of this from the same article:

But Friday is important on another matter. The no-trade clauses for both defencemen Tomas Kaberle and Pavel Kubina temporarily expire. From draft day until mid-August, either can be traded. Burke said he's had nibbles for both, but said it was "too early to say" whether one, or both, would be moved.

Kubina earns $5 million (all figures U.S.) a year, Kaberle $4.25 million. Both have offensive ability, Kubina has a bit more grit.

I like both guys and think both could help our d corps tremendously.

With only 1 year left on Kubina's deal there is only so much I'd be willing to give up (i.e. not the first rounder or top prospect) to swing that deal. Kaberle would be a different situation as he's younger and has two years left on his contract but my guess is Howson would not give up any of his young studs it would take to obtain him. I'm okay with that as well as I firmly believe cup contenders are built through the draft.

I wouldn't completely rule out a trade with Toronto but I also wouldn't wait by your keyboards hitting the refresh button either.

THN comments on last year's draft day trades:

Columbus gets: R.J. Umberger, C
Philadelphia gets: Luca Sbisa, D
Looking back: You can imagine how much worse Philly’s cap trouble would have been this year if they didn’t move out Umberger, who now has a hit close to $4 million.

Columbus got exactly the type of physical, productive forward they needed to help fill out a weak group and they didn’t even need to give out their own first-rounder, instead handing the Flyers a pick they got months earlier from Colorado for a dastardly Adam Foote.

In Sbisa, the Flyers added a youngster they could immediately insert into the lineup, even though that’s not what they anticipated when they picked him. This was a fine deal for both teams.

It was a good deal for both squads. It's really hard to imagine where Columbus would have been without RJ's 26 goals last season. He also proved that his playoff performance the year before was no fluke as he notched 3 goals in the Jackets 4 playoff games.

Here are a couple of more mocks from TSN:

16. Blue Jackets

McGuire: Dmitry Kulikov
McGuire: "They need some offence from the back end in Columbus."

Button: John Moore
Button: "He's a quick skater that loves to get into the attack."

Hey wudya know.. two more d-men! In all honestly I'd be thrilled to land either of these guys.

CNNSI's Muir has his mock posted:

16. Columbus Blue Jackets: David Rundblad, D, Skelleftea (SEL)

The Jackets may not have the league's worst power play by the time Rundblad shows up in Columbus, but he has the tools to ensure they become a more formidable opponent with the extra man long-term Rundblad worked the PP in the SEL as an underager, thanks to his slick playmaking, cannon shot and strong reads. And he's a right-handed shooter, a quality almost every team covets. Add in the fact that he should play at about 6-2, 210 and has more than a passing familiarity with his own zone, and he should become a bulwark of the Jackets' back end.

A little trade rumor news from Portzline's chat from the Dispatch this afternoon:

[Kev22] Porty are you hearing any rumors at the draft involving the Jackets yet?

[Portzline] Yes. I hear they've talked to Buffalo about moving up to the No. 13 spot. I get to Montreal on Thursday. Lots of hotel lobby time should generate some gossip, rumors, innuendo and half-truths. Look for those in your Friday edition of Ohio's Greatest Home Newspaper.

Portzline metions that the Jackets would like to grab one of the 7-pack of d-men in Hedmen, Kulikov, Cowen, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Moore, Runbland or Ellis. Hedman, Cowen and Kulikov are all likely to be off the board early but one of Moore, Runbland, Ellis or possibly Larsson could still be there at 16 -- if he doesn't think so then perhaps he deals with Buffalo to snag one.

I personally don't think he is limiting himself to just d-men though. If a guy like Glennie, Kassian or a Schroeder are there you have to pull the trigger. Kassian is a guy that I like more and more. That's not to say I still don't like "Moore".. as in John.

If you subscribe to the NHL Network you HAVE to tune in and watch the 2002 All Access draft special. Tons of video of a young Rick Nash. It's great TV for CBJ fans.

I believe it's on a couple of more times before the 09 draft takes off on Friday evening.


Stat of the day

I posted this once before but since we are closer to the draft I wanted to post again.

Here are the 16th overall picks from the past 15 seasons:

1994 - Eric Fichaud, G
1995 - Martin Biron, G
1996 - Mario Larocque, D
1997 - Ty Jones, W
1998 - Eric Chouinard, C
1999 - Dave Tanabe, D
2000 - Marcel Hossa, L
2001 - RJ Umberger, C
2002 - Jakub Klepis, C
2003 - Steve Bernier, R
2004 - Petteri Nokelainen, R
2005 - Alex Bourret, R
2006 - Ty Wishart, D
2007 - Colton Gillies, C
2008 - Joe Colborne, C

Not a very encouraging list.

Out of that group I'd say we ended up with the best player out of the bunch in RJ Umberger.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Draft math

I just finished reading an EXCELLENT statistical breakdown and subsequent analysis of past draft picks.

Here are some highlights but if you're into the draft I highly recommend following this link and checking out all of the time and work this particular writer put into this piece.

* Less than 10% of all players drafted between 96-06 went on to play 200 games. That's 1 in 10. Anything you can only do well 1 out of 10 times, I would classify as difficult.

* 40% of first round picks have gone on to play more than 200 games. 24% of 1st and 2nd round picks go on to play in 200 games. After that, only 5.5% do. That’s 1 in 20 players. It’s not quite a crap shoot, but it’s pretty damn close. Put another way, for every 20 post-third round draft picks traded away, only one of them will go on to play 200+ games in the NHL.

Those statistics show why it's so important to retain those 1st round picks.

My favorite part -- some Detroit bashing:

I actually really like Detroit, but I'm going to pick on them here because there's just a bit too much hype about their drafting prowess for my liking. "Detroit has the best scouting department in the NHL" is one of most repeated phrases in any draft discussion, but I'm not convinced that's true. Player development? Top notch. But actually consistently drafting NHL-calibre players? Not their forte.

If you refer back to the first chart posted above, you'll notice that Detroit is DEAD LAST in 3 of the 4 categories (% that made it to the NHL, % that played 200 games, # of games played per player drafted), and 27th in the other. That’s not good. Of course, drafting 2 franchise players in the late rounds makes up for that, but when the bulk of your drafted players end up being "busts", that's not a good sign.

Here’s a look at the players Detroit drafted in the 1st round since 1994. First of all - let's count all of the first round picks in 97,99, 01,02,03,04. Oh my goodness – there are none! Where did they go? Someone must have stolen them, because the most well managed team in the history of the NHL would never trade away draft picks, especially first rounders, since they realize how important they are and that no team can have any success without them. Second of all - not an overly impressive bunch besides Kronwall (and weirdly, all defencemen except for last year's pick).

And here’s the full list of players Detroit drafted in 98 and 99 (the years Datsyuk and Zberg were drafted). There's no denying that they were both great late-draft steals, but given the other players selected by Detroit before and after, you could argue that they just got lucky. Really really lucky.

The writer makes a great point in that it's not that Detroit is good at drafting it's that they are extremely good at developing players.

This is an area I think we are seeing tremendous improvement on under Howson in terms of the Jackets organization. He has been patient giving blue chip guys like Brassard, Voracek and Filatov at least a year to develop. Think we would have seen that under MacLean? -- not a chance.

We have seen what can happen when picks are rushed like a Gilbert Brule or a Alex Picard. I can't help but think what kind of players these two could have been with at least a year of development in the AHL before seeing NHL action.

Now the good news is that Picard showed some strong signs towards the tail end of last season so maybe something can be salvaged there.

If you notice they are also being very patient with their later round picks, especially the d-men. Guys like Goloubef, Weber and Ruth will continue to bake in college. Mayorov, Legein, Sestito, and Clitsome are also guys being given time to develop on the farm.

Then of course they have gotten much better at hitting on guys in later rounds. Guys who have made the jump recently from draft pick, to AHL to NHL are Marc Methot and Derek Dorsett.

Now the Jackets under Howson haven't been perfect. Looking back I'm sure they would have liked to have given Russell more time to develop in the AHL but the lack of having anyone on the big team with his skillset accelerated his jump to the NHL.

Now it turned out great but the organization would be lying if they were to say they expected Steve Mason to have the ability to jump into the NHL the way he did and have the Calder winning season he did.

If guys take advantage of the opportunities given and show they are ready then great. Every prospect develops differently. They key is to recognize their development arc and not try to force feed them into the NHL before they are ready.

The writer also makes some great point about drafting d-men in the first round:

Pronger and Niedermayer were drafted top 5 (prior to 1994), but Lidstrom wasn’t. Neither was Chara, Boyle, Campbell, Kaberle, Markov, Green, Rafalski. I'm not saying drafting a defenseman early on is always a bad idea, but it would seem that you don't need to use a top 10 pick if you’re looking for a stud D.

Again it's a great read although its certainly clear this has a Leaf's spin. Here is the link again if you're interested in reading more or using their spreadsheet to do some analysis of your own!

Programming alert: For those that have the NHL Network there is some excellent pre-draft programming on this week. For instance today they have Bob Mckenzie's top prosect draft special on today as well as an all access look at the 2002 draft (i.e. the Rick Nash draft). Set your DVRs!


Monday, June 22, 2009

Howson "If I were a betting man we'll make the selection and then move on."

There is a great interview with Scott Howson from the "Breakfast with the Blue Jackest" on 97.1 The Fan.

On the draft:
"Draft is deep. People are saying it's not as high end as last year but I'm not sure I agree with that. In talking with our scouts we are very excited about where we pick. Excited about possibilities of the player we will pick."

"Suprising thing about last year was at the top end you had a lot of people make the NHL. I don't think we'll see that this year. But that doesn't mean 3 to 4 years from now we won't look back and think this could be a better draft."

"Talked to 1 team about our pick. I think the trading of the pick would happen at draft. In fact we wouldn't want to part with the pick in terms of trading down until you see who is available."

"I don't think we'll move up but you never say never. If a player that we have rated is high is still there at say 12 or 13 we may make an attempt. My sense is we'll probably stand pat. I don't see us making an Umberger type deal. Those conversations usually happen for two or three weeks prior and we haven't had any of those types of discussions. If I were a betting man we'll make the selection and then move on."

"We are going to take the best player available. If that's another winger then that is what we are going to do. Whomever we think is going to be the best NHL player long term is who we'll select".
"The draft is not somethign we'll look at the team now and say 'we need this'. Other than organization depth."

"I remember in Edmonton we had two small centers in Comrie in Marchant and thought we didn't want to draft another small center. Two years later both guys were gone."

Free Agency
"An immediate backup goaltending need".

"A center ice need that is immediate if we can't get Manny Malhtora signed."

"Longer term goal we want to continue to upgrade our defense that we want to try to address through free agency or a trade here this summer."

"We think Vermette and Brassard will be in the 1/2 slots. We don't have a 3 which is where Manny would fit in. We are trying to sign him. Hopefully there will be more discussions prior to July 1st."

"We don't really have a 4th line center but we are probably going to try to address that internally. May move Derek Dorsett over. Might give Mike Blunden a chance. Andrew Murray or Derek McKenzie".

"The focus will be trying to fill the 3 slot and hopefully we can get Manny to do that."

"Given the uncertainly of the cap situation patience might be the best play this year. We'll see how it goes. We've never been in this kind of market before. I don't think it will effect the prime free agents as they will get their deals but we'll wait and see how it settles after that".

On Nash
"Hopeful. We'll have some serious discussions this summer. Will put best foot forward to get him signed to a longer term deal so we don't have to go through uncertainly of where he's going to play or do or what we are going to do. We'll have those discussion. We are going to get right at it on July 1st."

On Awards
"Steve's head must be spinning with what he's accomplished. He had a great week winning the Calder, finishing 2nd in the Vezina vote and making the NHL 2nd team. He rehabed all summer and then when he got to camp he had another surgery. To do what he did was really remarkable."

"Great thing about Rick is that he does his foundation work for all the right reasons. He doesn't do it to bring attention to himself. He knows he's been given alot and he wants to help and try to make Columbus a better place to live. We really appreciate the work he does."

They also have an interview with Steve Mason as well as EJ Macguire from the NHL's Central Scouting. You can listen to the full interview here.

First off I love listening to Howson. Dude just has his head screwed on completely straight and is building this team the right way especially for it's market size.

It was also good to hear that no matter what the Jackets will take the BPA in the draft regardless of position which is exactly what they should be doing.

The biggest news to me from this entire interview was they are going to leave that 4th line center position wide open for someone internally to grab.

The more I think about it the more I like this move.

1. It gives guys down in the Syracuse some big time motivation and a real shot to make the show out of camp. While guys will utlimately see time due to injuries have a roster spot that is truly up for grabs in camp should really make for some great competition.

2. It will allow Howson to allocate more dollars to fill holes futher up the lineup.

3. It saves a contract.

Here's the roster as I see right now although I do expect a winger or two to be trimmed via trade:

Huselius Brassard Nash
Umberger Vermette Voracek
Modin/Chimera XXX Filatov
Modin/Chimera Dorsett Boll
Extra: two of Murray/Picard/Blunden/McKenzie

Commodore Hejda
Klesla Tyutin
Russell XXX
Extra: Methot


Couple of thoughts:

* Filatov will probably start out on the 4th line and work his way up the lineup similar to Voracek last season
* Depending on the d-man brought in Klesla could be bumped down to the 3rd pairing assuming everyone is healthy (big assumption).
* That's a pretty damn good lookin lineup!

Remember that its real hard now-a-days to make trades in-season. The next two/three weeks is the time to shape your roster for the coming season. Very important and exciting times for all 30 franchises.


Attention to detail

I just got done readin this little bit from


Best first-round pick: Rick Nash (2002) -- The Jackets knew what they were doing when they chose Nash with the first pick in '02. Despite playing on a team that has struggled to score, Nash has 194 goals in six seasons and is coming off a career-best 40-goal, 79-point performance in 2008-09, helping the Jackets to their first playoff berth. As his team continues to improve, so will Nash.
Honorable mention: Rostislav Klesla (2000), Pascal Leclaire (2001), Nikolai Zherdev (2003)

Best pick, rounds 2-4: Dan Fritsche (2003)
Columbus has had little success drafting after the first round -- as evidenced by the second-round choice of Fritsche (No. 46), a hard-working Ohio native who had 29 goals in parts of four seasons with Columbus before being traded to the New York Rangers last summer and to Minnesota during the season.
Honorable mention: Tim Jackman (2001), Kris Russell (2005)

Best later-round pick: Mark Methot (2003)
Expansion teams need to find late-round gems -- and the Blue Jackets have failed miserably in this area. Among the few later-round players to see any kind of substantial playing time is Methot, a sixth-rounder (No. 168) six years ago who became an NHL regular this season, playing 66 games and scoring his first 4 NHL goals after going scoreless in 29 games in two previous call-ups.
Honorable mention: Petteri Nummelin (2000), Lasse Pirjeta (2002)

Biggest disappointment: Alexandre Picard (2004)
The Jackets still are waiting for Picard, the eighth pick in the '04 Draft, to show the kind of scoring touch he had in junior (39 and 40 goals, respectively, in his last two seasons). He hasn't scored more than 15 goals in three minor-league seasons and has not scored in 58 NHL games over four seasons. Though Picard will turn 24 in early October, his window of opportunity is starting to close.
Honorable mention: Gilbert Brule (2005)

I was good up to the point where he called Dan Fritsche the Jackets best pick from rounds 2-4.

Ever heard of a guy by the name of Steve Mason? You know the Jackets 2006 3rd round pick who just had his named engraved on the Calder trophy?

How hard is to pull up and take a look at past drafts? People get paid for this? Heck, I'd do it for free.

Methot is a good selection for late round pick. Watch out for Dorsett and a guy by the name of Clitsome however.

Rick over at has a new article up about the draft. Check it out here.

More draft prospects reviews from the "Hockey Spy" here.

..and I just threw the pic in as I felt like this post could use one :)


Another deal in the works between the Jackets & Sens?

According to Sens Buzz:

Bryan Murray and Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson are closing in on another trade right before Draft Day on Friday. Multiple sources tell me that Murray has a deal in principle to send goaltender Alexander Auld to the Jackets for defenseman Kris Russell.

To start off with, sorry to any fans who thought this was another Heatley post. It looks like Auld has stolen his thunder. But back to the trade, Murray has been interested in Russell for a very, very long time and almost acquired him in the Vermette for LeClaire trade, however, he would face cap problems. Now that it seems as if Brendan Bell will not be re-signed, Jason Smith set to reitre, and one of Christoph Schubert or Alexandre Picard to be traded, there is room for the budding, young defenseman.

The Blue Jackets do not have a backup to Steve Mason since Frederik Norrena and Wade Dubielewicz are set to become Unrestricted Free Agents. Auld fills that role perfectly and is very cheap at 1 mil per year. It also gives Howson some flexibility since this is the last year on Auld's contract and helps burn the log-jam the Jackets have on defense.

First thought. Not a chance Howson would make this trade. At least as currently constructed in this article.

Howson is too smart to make a dumb move like this.

For the most part Howson has made smart calculated trades that haven't come at the expense of his young core players.

Russell is part of that young core.

There is absolutely no way Scott Howson would deal a young 22 year old budding offensive d-men, really the only one currently on the Jackets roster, for a backup goaltender who only has 1 year left on his deal and will then be a UFA.

Now that said I wouldn't be against adding Auld who is slated to make 1 million next year. Forecaster's take:

ASSETS: Has tremendous size for the goaltending position. Covers his angles well and usually lets the puck hit him.
FLAWS: Must avoid flopping down on his knees too quickly. Lacks a little agility to thrive at the NHL level.
CAREER POTENTIAL: No. 2 goaltender.

He played in 43 games last year and had 16w 18l 2.47 GAA and a .911 save%.

Not bad.

There would have to be a whole lot more coming back the Jackets way to make this deal paltable.

Someone in comments of that post suggested a swap of draft picks from 16 up to Ottawa's 9 as part of the package. That would make a little more sense.

Personally Russell is an asset I do not move unless its an absolute no brainer. The Jackets have spent two years developing this kid. His first year as a rookie he notched 2g 8a and a -12 in 67 games. Last year he notched 2g 19a and a -10 in 66 games.

I expect him to build quite a bit on those numbers this coming season.

I know you have to give to get but creating a hole by filling another doesn't do us a whole lot of good. Jumping 7 spots in the draft to grab a guy who probably wouldn't contribute for at least a year, maybe two, certainly would not be enough incentive for me.

We need more skill on the backend, not less.

Besides the Sens just added a defender in Campoli last season that plays a very similar game to Russ.

I certainly wouldn't rule out Howson making a move for Auld in the next few weeks as he does make a lot of sense -- but I expect a different piece going the other direction.

Fire away - thoughts on this rumor?


Consensus top 15?

According to a TSN article today there looks to be a consensus top 15 in this year's draft:

At the very top we have the Tavares/Hedman/Douchene trio. I'll let TSN take over from there:

The only other prospect who got a vote in the top three is Vancouver Giant forward Evander Kane, TSN's No. 4 ranked player, but it was a solitary vote putting him ahead of Duchene on one scout's list.

Brandon forward Brayden Schenn rounds out TSN's top five.

Swedish defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larson is No. 6, followed by Spokane defenceman Jared Cowen at No. 7, London Knight forward Nazem Kadri at No. 8, Russian defenceman Dmitri Kulikov of Drummondville at No. 9 and Swedish winger Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson at No. 10.

There is an air of unpredictability to this year's draft and TSN's rankings. Last year, of the 30 players TSN ranked as first rounders, 27 actually went in the first round. There's an excellent chance the batting average will not be so high this year.

It would be a surprise of sorts if the top 10 ranked players don't actually get selected in the top 10, but the draft will likely open up significantly after that.

If one of TSN's top 10 prospects were to be unseated, it's likely to be by one of the five players ranked from Nos. 11 to 15 – Brandon forward Scott Glennie; Windsor defenceman Ryan Ellis; Chicago Steel (USHL) defenceman John Moore; Peterborough Petes tough guy forward Zack Kassian and University of Minnesota forward Jordan Schroeder. Those prospects are solid first-rounders who could conceivably creep into the top 10 and if they fall out of the top 15, it shouldn't be too far.

But beyond the 15th pick, this draft looks as though it's wide open.

Of course wouldn't you know, the Jackets select 16th.

I have a real hard time believing that the top 15 will fall exactly like the top 15 listed here. If I were a betting man I would bet that at least 1 or 2 of these players will still be on the board by the time the Jackets selection turns up.

A couple of names that could sneak into that top 15 that are not on MacKenzie's list are David Runbland, Jacob Josefson and Carter Ashton.

Bob MacKenzie has his final rankings of his top 60 players out. You can start with the first 10 by following this link.

One interesting ranking of note to me is that he has Jordan Schroeder at 15. I've watched this kid a couple of times and he is a very dynamic player. He reminds me of one of my favorite players in the NHL right now in Zach Parise.

Unfotunately he's a right wing on the smaller side, but again if he's the BPA you have to take him.

Be sure to check out their style of play comparables. For instance they compare Tavares to Hawerchuk, Hedman to Bouwmeester and Duchene to Yzerman.

Out of the players that could be there at 16 are Moore to Ryan Suter, Ellis to Ruotsalainen (wow breaking out the old school), Kassian to Bertuzzi, Schroeder to Yzerman and Josefson to Zetterberg.

According to a poster on HF Scott Howson was on WCOL this morning and said the following:

"he was going to plan on focusing on center for the first pick. He said as an organization we don't have much outside of Brass and Vermette."

To me that's a massive mistake. You don't draft for need. You draft the best player that is available at the pick.

Now if there are two players rated equally when your pick comes up then you take a look at positional preference. Now I'm certainly not telling these guys anything they don't already know.
Centers that could potentially be available at 16 are Jacob Josefson, Carter Ashton, Louis Leblanc.

Nazem Kadri is a center that is ranked in the top 10 who could potentially fall as well.

Check out this pic sent in from Kory which is a shot of the fridge from the television show King of Queens. Take a look at the sticker on the fridge -- look familiar?

Heard a story from my father-in-law yesterday (who I'm slowing but surely converting into a hockey fan).. Said he was listening to the radio and they were telling a story about a 70 and over hockey team. Spoke about how one of the man's wives had never seen them play until recently and how they have played intermissions at NHL games.

Their team name?

The Gerihatricks.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Beer commercials done right

Makes me want to buy a Molson!

Thanks for sending these in Kevin!


Draft on full blast

Get ready for draft coverage out the ying yang this week.

Here is more:

THN's mock is up next:

16. Columbus – Ryan Ellis, D, Windsor, OHL. Sure, the Jackets have Kris Russell, but they also have one of the worst power plays in hockey. Ellis fixes that in a hurry.

Lots of folks have Ellis falling to the Jackets. I certainly wouldn't mind the pick but I just don't know if Howson and co. take another under-sized d-man.

Again though, if he's the best player available you make the selection and don't look back.

Full mock here.

Here is TSN's Jackets draft preview:

Columbus Blue Jackets

After nine drafts, the Blue Jackets almost have a full cupboard of prospects to draw from. It looked pretty bare a few years ago, but the last three drafts have replenished the stocks. The trio of Derick Brassard, Jakub Voracek and Nikita Filatov are all expected to in the NHL, so another offensive forward is needed in the farm. The defence has six relatively unknown blueliners in Will Weber, Cody Goloubef, Brent Regner, Jonathan Sigalet and Ted Ruth. None of them are projected to be any more than No. 4 to No. 7 defencemen, but one of them could surprise. That being the case, Columbus could use a potential top two defenceman.

Top Draft Pick: 16th overall

Key Prospects: (D) Ted Ruth, (C) Derick Brassard, (RW) Jakub Voracek, (D) Cody Goloubef, (LW) Nikita Filatov, (RW) Stefan Legein

Strengths: Solid depth players at defence

Draft Needs: Offensive Defenceman

..and the Toronto Sun has their mock posted:


#16: John Moore

Size: 6-foot-3, 190 pounds

Position: Defence

Team: Chicago, USHL

Blessed with a wealth of young forward talent both on the roster and in the system, the Jackets will be looking to add a mobile puck-moving defencemen, like John Moore. He has the size and skill to go along with great playmaking abilities. A tremendous skater, Moore started the 2008-09 season outside of the first round but with solid play from start to finish of season, ISS scouts feel he has moved ahead of most all the other highly rated blueline prospects.

Style compares to: Joe Corvo

Would love to see the Jackets nab Moore.

The Red Line Report weighs in with Part II of their draft preview:

Here is an interesting scenario that Eric Smith over at Hockeybuzz suggests that I hadn't considered:

Now a scenario that I thought of that would be interesting is if the Blue Jackets give up their 16th overall selection to get all 3 2nd round selections the Islanders have at 31, 37 and 56. That would still give the Blue Jackets 2 selections in the top 40 plus a bonus one at 56. Would that be worth it to Howson to pull the trigger. Would Garth Snow be willing to give up his entire 2nd round to get the chance to select 3 first rounders?

Would Howson pull the trigger on such a deal? It would all depend on the Jackets board and how close they have players ranked from mid the mid frist round up to that 56th pick.

Of course we have to remember quantity doesn't always equal quality..... and man, that would sure make Friday night a drag (although surely I'd find a way to continue to "hydrate".

On the flip side three picks in the top 56 could restock the pipeline.

Personally if Howson moves down I think he holds out for the 26th and 31st picks. It will really depend on how much the Islanders like who is still on the board at 16 when the Jackets go on the clock. They will really have to like someone to pry away that 31st pick (which is the first pick in the 2nd round).

If a deal does go down I expect a frenzy on the floor and an announcement right as the clock expires.

Good times!

I typed the bit above last night and this morning I see this bit of info via the Columbus Dispatch:

Howson said the Blue Jackets will consider trying to move up "slightly" in the draft order, although he hasn't had any discussions with other teams. That could begin today, when most clubs arrive in Montreal.

The Blue Jackets, with center Derick Brassard returning from injury, and rookie Nikita Filatov expected to be a full-time NHLer in 2009-10, have a glut of forwards and they'd likely consider moving one, especially a winger.

They do not have a second-round draft pick that might be used to move up in the order, however. That pick was traded to Ottawa in the deal to acquire center Antoine Vermette.

It is highly unlikely, Howson said, that the Blue Jackets will trade the pick or move down in the first round.

That tells me they definitely have their eyes on a player or two they hope will be there at 16.

I wouldn't rule that possibility of trading down out completely because if those players they are eyeing are all off the board come 16 then the chances of moving down increase.

Still I may have to rethink my vote in the poll!

Larry Brooks makes an interesting point about the top end of the draft:

If the Islanders are not going to select John Tavares first overall in Friday's Entry Draft, then GM Garth Snow should declare early in the week so that the big night doesn't turn into a fiasco for the organization and, more importantly, the player the team does select.

We believe Snow understands the implicit danger of allowing the Tavares Bandwagon to roll down Hempstead Turnpike without brakes, only then to have it crash without warning into a dead end in Montreal on Friday night.

We believe Snow recognizes how unfair that scenario would be to either Matt Duchene or Victor Hedman, the potential alternate selections at No. 1.

And that's why we believe the longer the Islanders maintain their silence, the greater the likelihood Tavares will indeed be chosen first overall, even if the supposed inside information begins to point in another direction.

Personally I think the Islanders would be nuts to pass on Tavares. He's a classic case of being in the spotlight too long and has gotten over-scrutinized.

He's not a generational talent but you don't pass on a kid who potted 72 goals as a 16 year old in the OHL and broke Gretzky's records.

I see him having a Nash or Patrick Kane type impact on a franchise and that's a damn good thing.

Brooks also goes on to note to not rule out Heatley going to the Rangers and that in return the Rags would certainly try to include Nik Zherdev's rights in the deal.

Isn't this type of move what is completely wrong with the Rangers? Every year it's style over substance.

Ed over at has a new read up on the Jackets offseason here.

Great Mason interview here from AM640 Toronto radio.

Interesting small tidbit from the Toronto Sun:

Expect Mike Babcock to be named Canada's Olympic coach on Thursday, and don't be surprised if Lindy Ruff, Ken Hitchcock and Claude Julien are part of the coaching package.

More Nash trash:

A couple of things to consider, though. First, does Nash want to remain in Columbus. If he goes to unrestricted free agency next summer there is no question he will be the most sought-after UFA on the market - maybe of all-time. Many teams will take that into consideration this year when preparing their budgets for the 2010-11 season. Also, does Nash want to continue playing for coach Ken Hitchcock?

Finally, with former Blue Jackets president-GM Doug MacLean working diligently to get back into the NHL, Nash may choose to wait to see if his pal gets work and then sign with that team. In fact, if I was a team looking for a new GM, and felt MacLean might be able to deliver Nash, I'd give some serious consideration to signing him. MacLean, that is.

"Does Nash want to continue playing for Ken Hitchcock?"...

You mean the guy who turned Nash into the two-way force he has now become? You mean the coach who made him a captain? You mean the coach he just had his best season to date under? You mean the coach who just led this team to it's first ever .500+ season and playoff birth?

Yeah... why would Nash want to continue playing for that bum.

"Choose to wait to see if his pal gets work and then sign with that team."....

The only signing MacLean is going to be doing is the check he made out to Brophy to run this garbage.

Howson just get this deal done quickly so we don't have to hear from any more from MacLean's "pals".

Thanks to Ed for the heads up on this article.

Did you catch this? Apparently Bettman met with the NHLPA on Saturday morning for almost two hours which was double the time he was alloted:

The NHL commissioner spoke for almost two hours on Saturday morning -- more than double the time he was originally allotted. He began with an address to the roughly 110 players in attendance and faced questions on a range of topics.

Everyone seemed satisfied after Bettman's first-ever visit to these meetings.

"It was a big move on his part to come in here," said Detroit Red Wings defenceman Chris Chelios, often a critic of the commissioner. "It was a respectful meeting. We weren't going to do anything that was unprofessional. It took a lot for him to go out of his way and address the players.

"I just wish we had 700 guys in here to listen to him."

The commissioner spoke about the business of the sport and fielded questions from guys like Chelios, Robyn Regehr, Georges Laraques, Manny Malhotra and Kevin Weekes.

Things will never be perfect between the two sides (are they ever between employers and unions in any industry?) but I'm encouraged by this. It's something that would have never occured under form union head Bob Goodenow.

I give current NHLPA boss Paul Kelley a lot of credit for taking this step and Bettman for jumping at the opportunity.

The one thing both sides must absolutely avoid is another work stoppage.

For those that have yet to make draft plans remember the R Bar as well as the Jackets over at Nationwide are having parties.

I'll be partaking in both (first stop is R Bar @ 1:00 EST). Hope to see you there!

Finally... Happy Father's Day to all those hockey dads out there!