Friday, May 28, 2010

Draft, free agency loom on the horizon

As readers of this blog know, I've spent most of my offseason considering the different matters surrounding the Columbus Blue Jackets' coaching search.  That's not to say that other important matters aren't coming to a head, and they warrant attention from self-respecting CBJ fans.  Before you blurt out "new alternate uniforms" as the key issue of the day, let me suggest that the main two issues are 1) the draft and 2) free agency.  In the interest of time - and giving credit where credit is due - permit me to offer some links to places around the CBJ web where you can learn a lot more about both.

THE DRAFT

The draft isn't totally my bag of tricks.  While I'm somewhat excited to see who the Jackets will draft with the number four overall pick and their three picks out of the top 60, I have a hard time going overboard when the likelihood is that the kids are going to minors for a couple years.  Still, this is all part of the process that is the Circle of Life in hockey...and it's a great time to hockey fans to gather in the middle of the summer and talk pucks.

I've already touched on the draft and the First Round webcast that Rick Gethin is developing at The Hockey Writers.  Ten Minute Misconduct blogger (and Hockey Writers contributor) Jeff Little will be participating, and I hear that Rick's got some surprises planned as well.  I participated in a post-regular season podcast with Rick and Full Mental Jackets blogger Greg May a little while ago, and I can tell you firsthand that Rick does a great job keeping the conversation flowing.  Should be a good listen.

Past The Hockey Writers, CBJ HockeyBuzz man Eric Smith reports that he will be working with Fox Sports Ohio on developing pre-draft web content for FSO's site.  Eric is a stalwart of Blue Jackets fan media - a "grinder," to use hockey player parlance - and it's nice to see him get picked up by the big boys.

The crew at SB Nation's "The Cannon" blog have been diligently offering profiles of potential draftees for your review and consideration.  They're up to 20 individual profiles thus far, and I don't see them stopping soon.  Guess they're prepared for Scott Howson to put his 'riverboat gambler' hat on and deal around in the draft as he's done in the past!


If you're lost beyond hope in rapt anticipation of the draft, let me suggest that you check out TSN's DraftCentre.  Blogs, videos, combine stuff, analysis and more lists than I can count.    If that doesn't get you your fix, I don't know what will.

And, of course, NHL.com has its 2010 Draft page for your reading pleasure.

FREE AGENCY

As opposed to the draft, I have a keener interest in free agency as we'll likely see free agent signings at least in the preseason if not on the 82-game Blue Jackets roster.  Problem is, doing analysis of free agency to any intelligent degree means that one has to have a significant working knowledge of all 30 teams in the NHL.  I'm still a relative newbie to professional hockey research, so I'm going to pass on offering gems of wisdom (such as they are) until after the July 1 free agency period is underway and General Manager Scott Howson has actually signed a free agent or two - or completed a trade.

Luckily for those of us who have interest but lack capacity, there's a source for CBJ-related free agent information.  The crew at The Cannon are in the process of building a fantastic inventory of names, profiles and perspectives on the top free agents by position as well as potential trade targets.  Here are the links thus far:
Lastly, you can't keep score in free agency if you don't know the salaries.  NHL Numbers is my favorite source to check in on player contracts, salary levels, team payrolls and more.  Some people use CapGeek, but I haven't put much effort in over there.

Lots of great information is already available, so get your homework done early as June (the draft) and July (free agency) are just around the corner!

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