Archive for July, 2010

28
Jul
10

Stralman Bows to Howson

Seems like it took some pretty important people to convince Anton Stralman that a job in Columbus was better than being stuck on the free agent market, in the minors, or *gulp* Russia.

In case you didn’t hear, Anton Stralman re-signed with the Jackets this morning just prior to the beginning of his arbitration case. The Dispatch tells us the deal is for 1-year at $1.95 million.

A very fair deal when you consider what he could have made. Although at that time I thought over $1.5 million might be a bit too much, but now that I’ve let it settle and looked at the potential cost of losing Stralman to free agency, the deal signed today makes a lot of sense.

DBJ reminded me about the flexibility this contract gives Howson when it comes to re-signing players like Jake Voracek, Steve Mason, and Jan Hejda next summer. And to answer your question DBJ, as I understand it, Stralman will again be an RFA with Arbitration rights in the summer of 2011.

Puck Daddy points out the strategy Howson uses to get his way with Stralman (certainly a strategy that should be used more often)

For those scoring at home, Anton Stralman now makes more than both defensemen Kris Russell ($1.3mil) and Marc Methot ($1.01mil)… although, and is the 8th signed Blue Jackets defensemen who played in the NHL last season with the CBJ…. Not to mention the 10 defensemen who have contracts and have yet to play for the Jackets…

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23
Jul
10

77 Days!

Anson Carter’s time with the Blue Jackets was a brief stay. Number 77 signed with the CBJ at the beginning of the 2006 season and was shipped in February ’07 to the Carolina Hurricanes for a 5th round draft pick in 2008.

In his one season with the Jackets, Carter posted 10-17-27 in 54 games. The journeyman played for 8 NHL teams in his 11 seasons in the league, and never won a Stanley Cup.

Upon his trade from Columbus, the 2008 5th round draft pick turned into now-CBJ-prospect Tomas Kubalik who will be spending time with Springfield this season.

A very slow news-week for the Blue Jackets, but here’s a brief look at the goings-on:

Today Puck Daddy posted his top 5 most potentially painful NHL arbitration cases, naming Anton Stralman to that list. Not to re-hash the subject too much, but Howson and the Blue Jackets are in a difficult position with the looming arbitration. The pressure is on Howson to make the right move and I believe he will.

With the expected up-tempo style the Jackets are supposed to play under Arniel, the team cannot really afford to lose someone with the offensive talents of Stralman. But when Stralman is awarded a contract the CBJ balk at, he will become a free agent, and I seriously doubt any team would hire the defensive liability that is Anton Stralman. Then again, I’d rather have Anton on the defense than Marc Methot…

Traverse City Tournament dates have been posted and The Dark Blue Jacket has all the details.

Matt over at The Cannon has been hard at work, seemingly all the time, with lots of info for the upcoming season. The “Players to Watch” series has been very in-depth with individual looks and predictions for 6 different players so far. Most recently: Rostislav Klesla. Be sure to check it out.

Grant Clitsome has officially re-signed with the Blue Jackets. It was reported by The Dispatch a week ago, but just today officially announced by the Blue Jackets. Clitsome was a pleasant surprise at the tail-end of a lost season, but let’s face it. If Clitsome sees significant playing time in Columbus, it may be part of another lost season.

Finally, a “Thank You” to all readers of my blog. I don’t say thanks enough for doing so. And it only gets more exciting when in the middle of the summer, after such a crappy season for our team, my blog experiences the most traffic it ever has. It’s a simple thing, but it certainly is exciting to see something like that in the off-season.

77 Days!!!

15
Jul
10

3rd Jersey Concept

A quick late-night update about potential CBJ 3rd Jersey’s that are set to debut this season. I remember hearing November, anyone else remember?

Anyway, thanks to En4cer45 and the beauty of twitter I caught this link passed from the awesome website Icethetics.

These two concepts are featured on the website “Hockey Jersey Concepts“:

And the second concept:

Both are pretty cool designs. While the new jersey may end up looking nothing like either of these, it’s pretty neat to see some possibilities put into “print”. These designs belong to “Brian”, so if you end up reading this, cool stuff!

What does everybody think?

Personally, I like the “classic” look of the first concept. I’m not against the second concept, but it might be a little too visually active.

15
Jul
10

Slow and Steady

The news from Blue Jackets land continues to trickle out, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some Jackets-related news and links to share today, here we go.

As reported this morning by CapGeek.com, the Blue Jackets have re-signed Tom Sestito.

Firstly and most pressing are the two recent Season Ticket Holder Meetings with General Manager Scott Howson, Team President Mike Priest, and Head Coach Scott Arniel. These meetings were held for two nights (Tuesday and Wednesday this week) and The Cannon and The View from 210 were able to give a re-cap on each evening. Here are a few snippets:

Howson also took some “questions” (ie: abuse) on not resigning some fan favorites like Jody ShelleyManny Malhotra, and Curtis Glencross, especially after answering a question about how the team is being built by explaining that they are (like most of the NHL) trying to use the Detroit model, and using veteran character players to help develop the younger players.

I’m incredibly happy for Jody and Manny. We didn’t “dump” Jody Shelley. We traded him to give him the opportunity to play for a winning team after he wasn’t getting ice time in Columbus….. Jody used it as a chance to unlock his potential…and I know it’s my goal, and his (Mike Priest)’s  that once Jody chooses to end his playing career, we can bring him back to the Blue Jackets and keep him as a big part of our organization.

In Manny’s case, he had a hard decision to make, and I’m really impressed – he went to San Jose, took a lot less money that we had originally offered him, and worked his (tail) off. He played very well and earned a very impressive contract from the Canucks.

Glencross?

Really?

Who in the wide world of sports considered Glencross a “fan favorite” besides his psycho-ex-girlfriend who still lives in Columbus for some stupid reason?

I appreciate Howson’s explanation of the Shelley and Malhotra situations. He’s completely right, Jody wasn’t going to play under Hitch, and he did whatever he could to help him be successful in his career.

When it comes to Malhotra I have a different feel. After he was offered a solid contract with Columbus early last summer and instead opted for huge pay-cut to play with the Sharks, he now ends up in a pretty big 3-year contract with the Canucks. Manny is what Adam Foote was, minus all the bravado surrounding his exit.

Fans with a soft spot for former Jackets: I can understand why you may feel the need to be nice to Shelley or Malhotra or Chimera, but face it, those guys were mostly a waste of space on the ice and never won anything that mattered with this team.

The Penguins can have a soft spot for Sergei Gonchar because he helped lead them to the Stanley Cup.

The Blackhawks can look at Dustin Byfuglien and Kris Versteeg with many positive memories.

Okay. I’ll stop ranting. More info from the meeting:

CBJ ticket sales are down – from an all time high of over 10,000 season ticket equivalents last year (1 full season ticket, 2 20 games, or 4 10 games) to about 7,300 this year. Priest said it’s “an area we’re under pressure, but we’re working on it.”

Not a surprise, but it sure isn’t good. As mentioned in the write-up and by the management, winning cures all.

Game Ops – This topic, on how much it sucked, was brought up. Priest totally agreed, and there will be noticeable differences in what we see this year… old items have been retired. They will be trying new things this year, and are looking for people to provide feedback after the games to let them know how they did. New music will be in store as well. (CBJ) are contractually obligated to play some of the pieces from their Corporate Sponsors, but they are looking into changing when those are played so that they don’t deflate the crowd during those rowdy moments.

Great to see that the Jackets are willing to change.

I suggest copying both Detroit and Chicago’s game-ops as a good place to start:

1. They’re loud

2. They’ve got great “situational music”

3. They’re loud

4. They play good music all around

5 They’re loud

John Moore started blogging for the Blue Jackets about his summer including development camp and conditioning. (Official Site)

The Pepsi Power Patrol wants you! Auditions for the 2010 crew are getting ready to get underway… pretty solid website for this. My suggestion? More “un-fake” girls. (Official Site)

A bit about the Blue Jackets Great Unknowns, Nikita Filatov and Ryan Johansen. (View from My Seats)

This year, two of the highest profile unknowns are property of the CBJ. Both Ryan Johansen and Nikita Filatov are two of the most highly thought of prospects NOT playing in the NHL. One of them started last year as a Calder Trophy candidate only to end up in Russia, while the other started last season as a mid-level unknown prospect. Fast-forward to today and you have two players who could hold the Blue Jackets short-term future in their exceptionally-skilled hands. If they both develop as GM Scott Howson hopes, Columbus will be one of the most potent young teams in the entire NHL. If their question marks start to overshadow their potential, then that potent NHL lineup could turn impotent faster than you can say, “It’s been 4 hours and I’m calling my doctor.”

A brief look at the potential boom/bust values of both Filatov and Johansen. How soon might we see either in a CBJ uniform in the NHL… or on their way out of the organization?

Solid write-up on Johansen and his expectations with the Blue Jackets. (The Province) (H/T to @LoriSchmidt)

ESPN is still making excuses for their shitty hockey coverage. (ESPN.com (bottom of the page) and Puck Daddy)

If these two articles aren’t enough to make you seethe just a little bit, then I hope you didn’t spend much time watching the ESPY’s last night. Not familiar with the ESPY’s? Think self-serving, “everyone come see how good I look” on ESPN for 3 hours. If you thought “The Decision” was bad… God help the ESPY’s.

The good news? USA-Canada for the Gold Medal won “Best Game”

The bad? Crosby won best NHL athlete

The really bad? Jonathan Toews didn’t win crap (Gold Medal, Best Forward in the Olympics, Stanley Cup, and the Conn Smythe Trophy)

13
Jul
10

Boll signs and Stralman Comparables

Maybe lightning will strike twice and the second Blue Jackets player planning on going to arbitration will sign the day I post about the comparable players and their respective salaries.

If you didn’t hear, today Jared Boll signed a 2-year contract extension (The Dispatch) with the Blue Jackets. The contract will pay an average of $725,000 (Capgeek.com) each of the next two seasons (10-11 $700,000 11-12 $750,000).

To me this is a pretty fair contract especially if Boll can stay healthy the next two years. Since his rookie season he has not quite been the same player and being injured in this the common thread in each of the seasons since his rookie campaign.

I’m certain Howson & Co. were much closer to signing an agreed upon contract with Jared Boll and his agent than what is currently going on between Howson and Stralman’s camp.

Anton Stralman is currently 23 years old (soon to be 24) and at the end of his entry-level contract that paid an average of $731,667 per season. The final season of his contract is the only one in which Stralman did not spend time in the AHL after he was acquired at the beginning of the 09-10 season from Calgary for a 3rd round draft pick.

Here’s a look at Stralman’s stats and ranking in the NHL:

34 points was good for best point-producing-defensemen for the Blue Jackets, and put him at 7th best on the team overall. The big issue is not his production of points, but his tied-for-team-worst -17 on the season. Here’s a look at defensemen who’ve put up similar point totals and had a less than spectacular plus/minus.

Michael Del Zotto, New York Rangers, 20 years old. Del Zotto is entering the 2nd year of his 3-year entry level contract that pays him $1,087,500 per season.

Jack Johnson, Los Angeles Kings, 23 years old. Johnson is quickly evolving into one of the leagues best defensemen and is entering the final year of his contract paying him $1,425,000 per season.

Ed Jovanovski, Phoenix Coyotes, 34 years old. As a veteran player Jovanovski is making much more than a lower-level young veteran would and is entering the final year of a contract paying $6,500,000 per season.

Tom Gilbert, Edmonton Oilers, 27 years old. Gilbert is entering the 3rd year of a 6-year contract with an average cap hit of $4,000,000 per season.

Dennis Wideman, Boston Bruins/Florida Panthers, 27 years old. Entering the 3rd year of a 4-year contract Wideman will finish out his contract with the Panthers while making $3,937,500 per season.

Stephane Robidas, Dallas Stars, 33 years old. Recently signed to a 4-year contract extension with the Stars worth $3,300,000 per season.

Some of the players above are obviously not exactly what Stralman will be compared to, especially the veterans on long-term contracts, but it gives an idea how overpaid some guys can be, or underpaid for that matter.

I think Howson will end up “losing” this battle if he and Stralman do indeed make it to arbitration. Based on the point production, I definitely can see Stralman “winning” a contract in the neighborhood of $1.5-$2.2 million if it reaches the arby hearing.

To me, that’s a bit rich of a contract for a defensemen with questionable defensive abilities. If that’s the case I could see Howson letting Stralman walk-away and a trade made relatively quickly to replace the departure of important points from the blue-line.

13
Jul
10

Boll Comparables

Jared Boll ranked in the lower echelons of most statistical categories that matter to the fans and much more importantly the coaches and general manager.

Via NHL.com, here are Jared Boll’s rankings on a couple major categories:

Now at the end of his 3-year entry-level contract, Boll’s contract was worth an average cap hit of $743,333 the past 3 years. Now 24 years old, Boll is no doubt looking for a little more job security.

Here’s a brief look at the players surrounding Boll with comparable Games Played, Goals, Assists, Total Points, Plus/Minus and PIM’s, as well as a look at the contracts those players have signed. I would expect these to be the players looked at when trying to find what Boll’s contributions are truly worth to the Blue Jackets.

Brian Boyle, New York Rangers, 25 years old. Boyle is signed to a 2-year contract worth $525,000

George Parros, Anaheim, 30 years old. Parros is known as a huge intimidator and is a star in his own right, something Boll wouldn’t necessarily match. Parros is in the midst of a 3-year contract worth $875,000

Rick Rypien, Vancouver, 26 years old. Rypien is in the midst of a 2-year contract worth $550,000

Tim Jackman, Calgary, 28 years old. Jackman recently signed a 2-year contract with the Flames worth $550,000

Tanner Glass, Vancouver, 26 years old. Glass just signed a 1-year contract with the Canucks worth $625,000

Frankly, I don’t see how Boll or his agent can justify arguing a salary increase when there are a slew of players who’ve played his role with far less money. If Boll or agent try to argue for the money Parros is making, Howson should surely laugh them out of the arbitration hearing.

On a side note, in my opinion Boll is a player that does not serve a purpose on this club. His scoring contribution isn’t necessary and when he goes to bat for another player he usually gets his ass kicked.

I would rather see a younger player get the chance to prove as more of an intimidating force for the Blue Jackets but it seems the fan girls do have a thing for Jared.

Lord help us if Howson gives Boll a raise.

09
Jul
10

91 days…

In one of the craziest, whacked-out moves of the Doug Maclean era, Red Wing legend Sergei Fedorov came to Columbus in a trade that blows many minds to this day. The CBJ gave up both Tyler Wright and Francois Beauchemin to acquire Fedorov and Anaheim’s 5th round pick early in the 2005 season. The oddity of this transaction came when Todd Marchant refused to waive his NTC and was placed on waivers and claimed by Anaheim. The rest is history… Both Beauchemin and Marchant won the Stanley Cup soon after the trade, Tyler Wright ended his on-ice career, and the 5th round pick amounted to a prospect who never made it.

Fedorov spent almost 3 seasons with the Blue Jackets and was jettisoned at the 2008-2009 trade deadline for defensive prospect Teddy Ruth. Fedorov never meant much to me as a fan but I’m sure he made a few Red Wings fans feel uncomfortable in their skin.

Speaking of Tyler Wright…

Various Blue Jackets Bloggers suggested a great idea to get together and be merry during the “dog days” of summer. There will be reminders of this event as the day approaches. Sounds like every Blue Jackets blogger will be in attendance, maybe even me.

The Cannon picked up on this article yesterday from The Other Paper discussing the new relationship between The Ohio State University and their Athletic Department and the Columbus Blue Jackets. Here’s a brief snippet I found interesting:

“The whole motivation for doing this is I believe we can make a difference,” said Riggs. “It’s been fun working with (Blue Jackets president) Mike Priest and his crew (at Nationwide). Certainly, we want to keep the Blue Jackets here. Even before the partnership, there’s no advantage to us to not have the Blue Jackets. We’ve always rooted them for them to be successful.”

It’s refreshing to see that those involved with the “evil empire” of Central Ohio, as some may refer to it, realize the drastic importance of the Blue Jackets to Columbus and Franklin County’s economy.

If you didn’t catch Cleveland Cavaliers Majority Owner Dan Gilbert’s open-letter to Cavalier fans… well, you need to read it here. Many will criticize him for being unprofessional and rude, but as a fan, I would love to see that considering the situation the City of Cleveland has been left in. I don’t know if I’d ever burn a jersey, but I don’t blame those who have gone ballistic after this whole LeGone mess.




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