Wednesday, March 3, 2010

It's Trade Deadline Day...sigh.

While we all roust from a restless sleep after another tease of a game (Jackets start strong early and collapse late), Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson and his crack team are plotting and scheming to bolster the Boys in Union Blue.  In fact, our crack photographer, Dark Blue Brady, was able to sneak into the meetings and snapped this gem...

That's Howson on the right, while top scout Don Boyd (far left) 
looks remarkably disinterested.  Must not be draft day.

Who stays?  Who goes?  The rumor mill says that we have three top targets.

Raffi Torres is all but gone.  Let's hope that Scott Howson gets a strong return for him, as Raffi has been one of the Jackets' strongest contributors on a night-in, night-out basis.  Think about it - Raffi's been scoring goals from the third and fourth lines, anchoring the Brassard-Voracek line under Noel, causing havoc around the net (how novel!), even scrapping when called upon.  He's awesome, and any team that gets him will be very happy with the trade.  I'd suggest not trading him at all, but apparently Raffi's agent scoffed at Howson's contract extension offer over the Olympic break; if this season is really a wash, Howson is wise to get something before letting him walk away.   

Milan Jurcina probably shouldn't have unpacked his suitcase after returning from a strong showing with Team Slovakia at the Olympics.  Sigh.  I hope Howson has a pretty clear plan for the blue line going forward, as that Jurcina-Kris Russell tandem was awful tasty once Claude Noel let them do their thing together.  The CBJ fan world always brings up Milan's cannon shot (we dig cannons in Columbus, you know), but I appreciated his steady "bodyguard" role for the offensively-minded waterbug that is Russell.  With Jurcina holding down the fort, Russell pretty much had the confidence to go anywhere on the ice.  And he did!  

Who will replace Jurcina as Russell's rock-solid foundation?  I don't see anyone of that stature (literally - Milan's 6'6" or so...) on the roster.  And don't try selling me on Grant Clitsome as Russell's new partner.  I like Clitsome's spunk from last night, but he's not the backstop that Jurcina has been.  Again, I hope Howson has a plan...

And then there's Freddy Modin...Freddy Modin...who knows...his injury history with the CBJ is the stuff of legend, but he tightened his chinstrap in Vancouver and appeared to be useful for Team Sweden.  Might a team want a more-than-slightly banged-up guy to shore up the locker room and the third or fourth line?  One that's as likely to sit out a game as drop a goal in the back of the net?  At Freddy's price tag?  We'll find out by 3PM today.  

Because it's deadline day, and GMs are way to jazzed on whatever caffeine they're pounding, we've been told to expect the unexpected today.  There's always the chance that Howson pulls a Christian Backman and packages a Torres or a Jurcina with a high-salary, not-so-high performance player (Commodore?  Huselius? Modin might also fit this bill...) in a salary dump.  

And then there's the possible raiding of the cupboard.  To his credit, Howson has signed a number of pretty decent players to manageable contracts, which makes them attractive when we're in a selling mode.  We hear (from Eklund, granted) that the Devils covet Derick Brassard.  And I'm sure that there are other players that teams have their eyes on.  (Nikita Filatov?)  I'm not suggesting that anything of this nature will actually come to pass, but stranger things have happened...

Regardless, the dust will settle by the time everyone makes their evening commute tonight.  It's safe to say that this season is pretty much lost, so let's all cross our fingers that today's activity solidifies the future for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

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