Howson has committed himself and this franchise to this group of players. Not just verbally, but contractually. With the expected moves this summer, they'll be less than $9 million under next season's salary cap ($59.4), with goaltender Steve Mason and right winger Jake Voracek due new contracts by next summer.
Until it all fell apart this past season, Howson was lauded for the moves, both locally and nationally. It was held up as proof that players wanted to be in Columbus for the long haul, and a sign that the franchise was ready to be a perrenial playoff club. He freely acknowledged he was following the Cleveland Indians model from the 1990s under former Tribe general manager John Hart.
The point is, it is not possible for Howson to lock down his core into the distant future one summer, and then be a free agent gangbuster the next. It's one or the other, and he has staked the Blue Jackets' future -- and likely his own in Columbus -- on the club's young core.Must read material. In fact, I had a blog post almost identical in style in me - now, I'll just suggest you read this and save me the heavy lifting!