Let me start by pointing out that the Columbus Blue Jackets have their eyes on the prize. By acquiring such talent as Jeff Carter and James Wisniewsk, they are closer to that goal. Carter was THE offensive leader in goals for the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2010-2011 season and finished 7th overall in the league with his 33 goals. Wisniewski was a powerhouse offensive defenseman for the Montreal Canadiens with 7 goals and 23 assists to combine for 30 points this past season, an impressive number for a man on the blue line. With such additions the team is ready and rarin’ to go, right?
Not so fast. After looking at the numbers, the roster seems a little light and it just keeps thinning out.
As of June 23rd (affectionately referred to as Tradeageddon 2011), the roster stood at ~28 guys. In total, to this date, the Blue Jackets have lost 5 defenseman (including their on again/off again boyfriend Mike Commodore) and 4 forwards (the number includes even trades such as Voracek for Carter). Count it, people. They have a 19 man roster! They are running on the bare minimum of defensemen and have just enough forwards to run 4 lines. Here is where the problem comes in…
According to 25stanley.com, the team’s resident senior citizen, Kristian Huselius, will be out recovering from a torn pectoral muscle until at least November. The injury takes 4-6 months to heal. As stated in 25stanley:
Forward Kristian Huselius will not be back before the month of November. The Blue Jackets will have to find a replacement. The team has already spent $ 58 million on its payroll. The reporter mentioned that the Blue Jackets will no doubt be looking for a player wanting to sign a one-year agreement.
I also do not need to mention that injuries are a daily occurrence in the NHL and this leaves no wiggle room for anything to go wrong.
It is one thing to have to add depth to scoring or defense, but to do both in one season and expect a one-year contract signing? This appears to be a Band Aid on a dam leak. The only saving grace for the failing franchise is their cap space. According to capgeek.com, the team has about 8.7 million dollars of room to play with. SO the options are as follows:
- Take the cap space and invest in some of the free agents still available on the free trade market. Realistic options (NO Doughty or Stamkos!) who have yet to sign on the dotted line are Troy Bodie, Steve Bernier, Vinny Prospal, Rob Schremp, Jeff Tambellini, and John Madden as forwards, Madden, at 38, being most likely to take a one-year deal. Options on the blue line could include possibly Nick Boynton, Brent Sopel, Ruslan Salei, Steve Eminger, or Scott Hannan. All have proven to be contributors to their teams and unlike the 2010-2011 Blue Jackets defensemen, all of these men were on teams that made it to the playoffs.
- Pull up from the farm league/s. The Springfield Falcons, much like their NHL affiliate, did not make it to the playoffs. Some of their top scorers last season were Tomas Kubalik, Trevor Smith, and David Savard. As seen in the past, being successful in the AHL does NOT mean you are destined for the NHL. Few notes came out of prospect camp but as stated by a staff writer for the team, they are working with what they have at the prospect level to produce something for future use. This was in an effort to build up players like those they traded right before this year’s draft (Nikita Filatov and Jakub Voracek).
- Scott Howson gets crackingand re-sign Craig Rivet, Chris Clark, and Anton Stralman and pray that will be enough.Whatever decision the higher-ups make, time is running out. With training camp a mere two months away (September 18, 2011), we should be seeing decisions made within the next month…hopefully.