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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Quick hits

BlueJackets.com has a new interview up (video and transcript) with the man behind the curtain Scott Howson. He discusses the draft, free agency and more.

Davidge: What's it going to take for the Blue Jackets to get past ther first round and maybe sneak into the finals?

Howson: There's going to have to be some improvement, our young players are going to have to mature and get better. That's really when we will become good; Brassard, Mason (had a great year) , Russell, Voracek, Filatov coming in; when they become really good NHL players we will be able to compete with these teams. Generally, we'd still like to improve our defense and our puck moving ability from our back end.

Davidge: How do you approach the Entry Draft?

Howson: It's always a game day decision. We're not tied to anything, but there is certainly more uncertainty having the 16th pick as oppose to having the sixth, seventh or eighth pick. It is a deep draft and I can tell you right now that if we do walk to the podium at 16, we're going to be excited about the player were getting. We think it's an important pick for us. We think this is another young hockey player that could be part of our core group over the next five or six years when we can be Stanley Cup contenders.

Davidge: Approach to free agency at this point?

Howson: We've been negotiating with Manny and that's been ongoing. I'm not sure where it's going to go... we've talked quite a bit and we're taking a little break for the draft and then after we can talk again. So, he's our first priority right now. After that, we are going to get to July 1 and then we need a back up goalie, probably need another defenseman, and if Manny doesn't come back, then a center. We have more specific needs (this year) and probably not on as large a scale as last year.


Be sure to follow the link to what the entire video on Blue Jackets TV.

Just not gettin that warm and fuzzy on Manny. If it gets done I think it will be after July 1st when Manny's camp can test the waters and see how much money they are leaving on the table (if any).

I also don't think there is any "probably" about it when it comes to a defensemen. That is a must and that player must be able to help out the PP.

The #1 priority come July 1st of course is getting Captain Columbus extended. Michael Arace throws out some of his thoughts in the Dispatch today - check it out here.

The Hockey Writers have a draft preview up. You can check it out here. Thanks for the heads up Rick.

Hockeysfuture also has their Jackets draft preview posted. They had a couple of interesting points:

Also, despite the lack of an IIHF transfer agreement in place and despite previous trouble with Zherdev, the Blue Jackets have not been afraid to take Russians high in the draft. There is a risk in selecting Russians but the Jackets have clearly taken calculated risks and have succeeded in bringing their Russian selections to North America.

There is a clear affection for the NCAA as well. Exactly half of Howson’s selections the past two seasons have been players either already playing college hockey or about to enter it. Goloubef and Will Weber, both playing NCAA hockey, are good examples. In both of Howson’s drafts he has selected a solid all-around defenseman with his second-round selection.

Howson has also shown an affinity for vertically gifted players. Only three of his 16 selections stand under six feet tall. He’s selected guys like 6’6 Steven Delisle and 6’4 Weber. Does this mean the team is due for a smaller crop?

Hockey's Future staff mock draft result: Ryan Ellis, D


It's going to be real hard for the Jackets to pass on Ellis should he still be available at 16. As I've said before though with undersized d-men in Russell and Reghner already in the system I would not be at all surprised if they go in a different direction.

This draft is a good when looking at the Jackets prospects needs as there are an abundance of centers and d-men and there should be a couple available when 16 pops up.

Bottom line though is you always draft the best player available and then make trades to fills the holes (see Lalande).

I've said it before and will say it again, don't rule out a trade down for the union blue.

A very good read here from the Islanders web site with TSN analyst, Foote apologist (had to sneak that in there) and draft expert Bob MacKenzie here. Key points courtesy of HFBoards:

* He interviewed 12 scouts, and all had Tavares at first overall.

* A clear top five had emerged, which maps exactly onto what Brian Burke was saying. The big three, followed by Kane and Schenn. Also said that some scouts didn't see a big dropoff from Duchene to Schenn.

* Still thinks Isles have serious interest in Hedman, although appears to believe Tavares will go first nonetheless.

* As many here have suggest, thinks Bolts will listen to trade offers if Isles nab Hedman.


Don't forget to set your DVRs for the NHL Awards event tomorrow night! It kicks off at 7 p.m. EST on Versus.

There are no sure things in life but Mase for the Calder is about as close as you can get. Should he win (and he will), it will be a great honor for both he and the Jackets franchise.

-LTL

4 comments:

Theodore said...

LTL

With the news that the Sens will try to accomodate Heatley's trade request, what are the chances the Jackets make a play for him? The way I see it, if we could bundle Modin, Huselius, and maybe a Picard together, the salaries would pretty much be a wash.
Talk to me, kid!

LTL said...

Is this the Ted from Ice Breaker fame? The infamous ringer extraordinaire?

I don't see much of a chance of Heatley landing here. This team can't afford another 7 million dollar winger and ice a competitve squad.

Remember the Jackets are a budget team not a cap team.

Now should the Nash negotiations turn sour then maybe you consider it.

Personally the more I read about Heatley the less interested I become. I'm sure there is a lot more to the story than what we are privey too but on the surface he seems more about "I" than "team".

-LTL

Bruce said...

LTL - the one concern I have about the recent drafts is that we seem to be heavy on players who have taken the NCAA route vs. Canadian juniors. Four out of the 8 taken in 2008 (Golubef, Olson, Atkinson, Collins), and 4 out of the 7 taken in 2007 (Weber, Hansen, York, Vogelhuber)are now playing in college.

While they may eventually make it to the CBJ, my concern is that this road takes a longer time and we could use some of these guys now or in the next year or so.

Your thoughts?

LTL said...

Bruce,

Thanks for the comment!

I'm actually not to worried about the NCAA vs. the junior route in terms of draft picks. There are pros/cons to both routes.

I know statistically there is less (but just slightly) of a chance they make it to the NHL via NCAA route but on the flip side you have 4 years as an organization to decide if you want to give them a contract vs only 2 years if you select them out of major junior.

If they spend all 4 years you are also looking at a much more physically and mentally mature man when they turn pro.

The key though is drafting the best player at that draft position regardless of route and letting that player bake until he's ready for pro duty.

Every player's situation is unique but generally speaking it's not at all a bad thing for guys to play a few years in college/juniors/minors before they are ready for the bigs.

As an organization you want to get to the point where you can give these kids a few years to develop. You want to mimic a franchise like Detroit.

For instance a lot of people are saying Detroit found a gem in this Jonathan Ericsson who was a 2002 9th round pick. What they don't tell you is he's 25 and after converting him to a d-man he spent 6 years of development time (in Sweden/AHL) and just saw his first significant taste of NHL action this season.

Put it this way, could you imagine drafting Rick Nash and him just now seeing significant duty in the NHL?

That is a long time to sit on a player but they can afford to b/c of the depth they have as an organization and now they are getting rewarded.

So what I'm getting at is it's a luxury to have depth and to let these picks develop. As an organization we are doing a much better job depth wise and can afford to let our picks "bake" longer in the system so when they do make a push for the team -- they are ready to contribute.

A great example of a player to keep your eye on for the CBJ is Grant Clitsome. He was a 2004 9th round pick for us who spent 4 seasons at Clarkson University. He turned pro last year and put up 4g, 19a for 19 points in 74 games for the Crunch. He could start paying dividends for the Jackets as early as this coming season.

Hope that makes some sense and that I answered your question. I kind of got on a roll :)

-LTL