directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Traffic Jam at Forward..

Countdown to Rick Nash's contract expiration:

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Traffic Jam at Forward..

Now with the start of the season within sight I think we should open a discussion about the traffic jam at forward. I believe everyone is in agreement on the following 2 lines...

Nash - Brassard -- Huselius
Umberger -- Vermette -- Voracek

The third and fourth lines is where it becomes interesting.. Pahlsson is a lock for 3rd line Center, but now the choices have to be made... 5 spots remaining and the following players battling for positions.

Chimera, Torres and Modin are proven NHL veterans with salaries/contracts attached so we could for the sake of simplicity pencil them in on the third line.. (Modin on the LTIR, I really love Torres (timelely goals/big hits, but a so-so injury history) and I believe Chimera will be trade bait and his days with the CBJ are numbered, as are Modin's)

That leaves 3 spots on the fourth line:

Filatov, Murray, Dorsett, Boll, Picard, Blunden, MacKenzie and Calvert are battling for a spot.

I will break them down one by one:

Nobody doubts his skill set but he's been inconsistent. Furthermore showing up as the last member for camp and the KHL comments don't help. So far I have been a bit disappointed with his up and down play, it almost appears he showed up knowing he had a spot on the big club reserved for him. Is he becoming Zherdev Jr ?? Furthermore Hitch doesn't appear to be that impressed with his play so far.

Heavy, dependable and will get the job done with a very low defensive risk factor. However virtually no offensive upside.

Scrappy, competitive and not afraid to take on guys twice his twice. I really like his scrappy game and he has shown to have a little bit of an offensive upside.

Dorsett in my opinion has surpassed Boll as of late. It appears Boll has never been the same since that fight early last year.In fact I think he has plateau and is now on somewhat of a slow decline. I hate to say this but I think the competition is starting to pass Boll by.

Scrappy, irritating and now a proven offensive upside in the AHL. He has taken his game to the next level and I believe with his offensive touch he could be a solid 4th liner for the Jackets. Also being given a 1 year extension should help Picard's desire to excel.

Good combination of skill set and grit, furthermore he's a center. This kid could have a good shot a the 4th line center slot if he proves his defensive worth.

The always safe AHL veteran who in my opinion is just a bit better then the AHL but doesn't have
enough to stick in the NHL..

Future NHL-er in my opinion but still needs a few more years of seasoning to make the big club.. 2 years should be about right..

Who would you pick ?? Let the discussion begin in the comment section.. because personally I can't make a choice. (for the first time in CBJ history)


JAL said...

Hitch and Howson appeared to indicate last night (at the Season Ticket Holder Q & A)that the top line is set at Nash, Brassard, Huselius. Vermette is set as the second line center. There was a pretty strong statement that Filatov would likely move between Line 2 and 3, depending on the opponent and matchups.

If Filatov slides between the lines, then somebody else has to as well. Either Voracek or Umberger have games that would work on either line.

My personal pick for the top three lines, then, looks like this:

Nash -- Brassard -- Huselius
Voracek -- Vermette -- Filatov
Umberger -- Pahlsson -- Torres

Line 4 is problematic. I think it is a toss-up between Murray and Blunden for the center spot right now. From what was said last night, it is likely that Chimera could be back for the beginning of the season. So, my 4th line looks like this:

Chimera -- Murray/Blunden -- Picard

The reserves and call-ups, in this order:


I might even put Calvert ahead of Boll if he just added a few more pounds.

Modin, of course, changes the equation when he comes back, but in any event, I don't see how Howson avoids doing a deal of some sort.

Just my picks. Fire away!

Inside Hockey
Fire The Cannon

Bruce said...

Predicting the lines is like predicting the weather. Too many variables:

- injuries
- opponent
- who is playing well
- who can be sent down to Syracuse without having to clear waivers,
- etc.

So, with those qualifiers, here is my best guess for who will start on opening night:

Nash - Brassard - Huselius
Umberger - Vermette - Voracek
Torres - Pahlsson - Murray
Dorsett - Blunden - Picard

"Healthy" scratches: Filatov, Chimera, Boll

LTL said...

Oh man.. just watched Dorsett pound the crap out of Tucker.. the hockey juices are flowing..

I digress.. here are my lines:

Huselius - Brassard - Nash
Umberger - Vermette - Filatov
Torres/Chimera - Pahlsson - Voracek
Boll - Murray - Dorsett
Scratch: Blunden, Picard

My guess is one of Torres or Chimera are moved out next week somehow/someway. That will give enough roster space to carry Blunden and Picard.

I know a lot of you think Boll is working his way out of the lineup but I just don't buy it. Minnesota is a big tough team and I don't think Hitch sacrifices the toughness.

I think Vermette and Umberger are kept together due to their chemistry. I think he trusts Voracek enough to put him on the 3rd line next to Pahlsson against other teams top lines. That will make make room for Filatov on the 2nd next to two responsible vets.

I think Murray is the best fit for center on the 4th but I could see Hitch trying Blunden.

Lots of variables of course but that is my guess as of 5:14 PM EST. Should be an interesting coming week in the player movement department.


eplagge said...

LTL I agree but.. I am not sure if there is a movement to be made. It's a tough market this year especially with the cap dropping next year it's going to be really though for Howson to make a move... But let's hope he can make a move... In Howson we trust

Patrick said...

Yes, there are lots of variables, and yes, it's impossible to predict them all.

BUT... I don't see any scenario in which Dorsett doesn't play almost every night.

He is a player on the rise. I think he tasted the playoffs, got hungry, and needs more. No way is he the odd guy out. I think he brings more to this team and it's future than Chimera and Modin put together.

Mase1 said...

OK, rather than figure out who makes the 3rd/4th lines, I'll assess each forward (on the fringe) - y'all can do the math, from there...

Filatov - if that's a commitment to the defensive side, please let us and Hitch know when you plan to do it. NICE excuse, though...

Murray - while it's true his offensive upside is, well, as you say, limited or non-existent, do note his record when he does score goals - I believe the CBJ were something to the effect of 6-0-0. Goals? Not so much - Big Goals? Hell yeah!

Dorsett - pencil it in. As Hitch said, after Game 4, no matter what level, the guy's a winner, and really steps up when someone needs to, and others tend to dissapear.

Boll - In the doghouse, during the playoffs - horrible sophmore year (yep, the shimmy and the fight was the harbinger of bad things to come).
Were it not for that "element" (think Jody Shelley, after Day 90 of P90X), dude would be looking to be released.

Picard - love the velocity - dude competes - now, if he can score a goal, just one, PLU-EASE!!!

Blunden - might be why he's been on the lips of Scott Howson and the rest of the hockey braintrust. Big, nasty, and, get this, actually has some offensive skills - what a concept!

Calvert - imagine his heart and determination with Filatov's talent level. YIKES! He will be heard from in the next year or two - impressive.

MacKenzie - the CBJ's version of 'Crash' Davis (from Bull Durham)...

And, for what it's worth:

Modin, Chimera - "Next question..."

How does ANYONE not have Dorsett on the 4th line?

C'mon LTL nation, we gotta get out of this touchy-feelie, happy bed fellows, crap - No, Modin and Chimmer SHOULDN'T be penciled in, when they return - they're either old or worthless - get rid of the waste, and move forward. That's why we're the new wave/new media, not the old fish wraps...

Mark my fault of Scott Howson's, BTW...he's trying, but I don't think he's been given the freedom, fiscally, to do what he can or would like to do...

Status quo will NOT get it done!

LTL said...

Yeah it sure didn't sound like Filatov was too impressive tonight. He is a big wildcard as to where he fits in this lineup.

Like Brass and Jake last year I'll give him a long leash as far as making rookie mistakes and the learning curve -- but he's going to have to earn his ice time.

As far as movement... agree completely Ep but I just don't see how Howson can make all these wingers work... somebody is gonna have to go.. maybe Howson tacks on a 3rd round pick to someone who would take Chimera or Torres to clear out room as a pure salary dump. He could just straight out waive them but if they don't clear that could really backfire.

Or maybe we just lose a Picard or Blunden to the waiver wire... but man wouldn't that suck.

This is unchartered territory.. too many good players and not enough positions to go around... weird.


David said...

I like the idea of working Voracek on the third line to open up the second for Filatov. I think it will be good for Voracek's long term two-way growth to develop a third-liner's mentality. That makes the lines look like this until Chimera and Modin return:

Huselius -- Brassard -- Nash
Umberger -- Vermette -- Filatov
Torres -- Pahlson -- Voracek
Dorsett -- Murray -- Picard

eplagge said...

I agree with a lot of you.. Dorsett brings too much heart, soul and grit not be on the ice.. Filatov is the big question mark.. There will be some hard choices for Howson coming up...

the Jester said...

I'd take Dorsett, Blunden and Murray on the 4th line. Torres is in, Chimmer is out for me. Put Filatov wherever he fits and let him show his flair!