Monday, September 6, 2010

Time to step up: Marc Methot

  • Defenseman
  • 25 years old, 5th year in National Hockey League
  • $1,012,500 cap hit 
  • 1.7% of Columbus Blue Jackets salary cap
  • Contract expires at end of this season
  • 2009-2010 numbers: 60 games played, 2 goals, 6 assists, 8 points, -8, 51 penalty minutes, 19:31 avg. time on ice
Can Marc Methot prove that he deserves to be part of
the Columbus Blue Jackets core of emerging talent?
Like every other player who has a contract expiring at the end of the season, Marc Methot has a pretty simple reason to step up his game in 2010-2011: To get re-signed and continue advancing his career as a professional hockey player.  

The challenge for Methot, however, gets more interesting when you look beyond the obvious.  First, you need to consider that while he's entering his 5th year for the Columbus Blue Jackets, his first two years included appearances in 20 and 9 games, respectively.  On the Jimmy Howard Calder Trophy Scale, that means that he's only entering his third year in the league.  And it's safe to say that, had it not been for injuries on the blue line over the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 seasons, he probably wouldn't have seen anything approaching the 20-odd minutes a game that he was working.  

Every time I think about Marc Methot, all I can think of using is the word, "tweener."  He's not a third liner, but probably not a top two pair blueliner on a good defensive team.  He's not an offensive talent like, say, Kris Russell, but he's not a total shutdown defender either.  He eats minutes, doesn't make a disproportionate share of mistakes and keeps the train a-rollin'.  And, for a 25-year-old player, he's not young but only has gained meaningful NHL experience in the last couple of years.  I don't consider him part of the young Blue Jackets core that we hear about, but he should be.

On his upside: He's apparently very fit (considering last season, that is worthy of mention), has a terrific attitude and causes no problems in the locker room from what I gather.  He takes his assignments - even when he's clearly in over his head - like a man, and sometimes he even makes something good happen out of them.

It's taken me a while to get this post written, and I've had time to reflect on Methot a little more.  My feeling on him is this: He's in the last year of his contract and, like Jan Hejda and Grant Clitsome, I'm not sure he's going to be able to hold off the combination of another free agent class and, perhaps more significantly, the drooling hoards of emerging young blueline talent that will be popping up out of Springfield.  He's going to have to enhance his "stay-at-home" credentials and become a true shutdown defenseman, discover a heretofore absent offensive game, or both to cement a place in the Blue Jackets lineup.

In case he doesn't make that jump, and presuming that some other team doesn't pick him up should he be cast away, I'd love to see Methot settle down for the rest of his career in a Derek Mackenzie role - acknowledged leader and role model for Columbus' young defensemen in the AHL, getting them ready to play in the big leagues and ready to step in if he is called upon for a spell.

Somehow, though, I think Marc Methot has different plans.

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