directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Juggling act

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Juggling act

Was anyone else out there as surprised that Brassard got done before Vermette as I was? After all Vermette is the UFA to be while Brass has years of restricted free agency ahead of him.

Don't get me wrong I'm thrilled to have Brass locked in for the foreseeable future and that we don't have to deal with a holdout or any of those distractions but where does this leave Vermette?

Vermette is slated to make 3 mil this year and is coming off seasons of 50, 51 and 52 points. He'll be unrestricted after this season.

The question I have is how much is he going to want? Certainly more than what Howson just dished out for Brassard who, regardless of potential, hasn't played more than 31 games in an NHL season.

The Jackets have Brass and Pahlsson locked up for the next 3 years. That is 2 out of 4 centers. After that they really don't have anything in the system and there isn't a whole lot on the market next year that the Jackets could afford. Both camps are certainly aware of this.

Including Vermette the Jackets have 11.5 mil coming off the books next year. Assuming the budget stays the same (unfortunately) and with Brassard's raise of 2 mil next year along with raises to Nash (800k), Umberger (500k), Methot (75k) and Tyutin ($300k) that leaves 7.825 mil to spend. How much of that can go to Vermette?

What Howson does have going for him is that the cap is expected to go down next year so there will be only so much $$ to go around. Vermette could go for security now and pass up the chance at being unrestricted or he could take his chances on the market and also run the risk of ending up on the outside looking in (see Malhotra).

We know Brassard's contract set the benchmark in terms of second contracts for players like Jakub Voracek and Nikita Filatov but because of Vermette's position, production and status as an unrestricted free agent he'll command more - which he should.

If I'm in his camp I want a deal similar to RJ Umberger which was in the 4 year 15 million dollar range.

Keep in mind that Jared Boll, Derek Dorsett and Kris Russell will all need new deals for next season and Steve Mason, Nikita Filatov, Jakub Voracek will need new deals in two years.

For those wondering about Filatov his year in Syracuse counts as a year played under his rookie deal but not as a year played towards his unrestricted free agency eligibility.

It's a juggling act that Howson has under control. I believe though that he's got to find a way to keep Vermette as the center of that ice is just too important. Unfortunately there are limits and I just can't see him going over what RJ got.


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