|Has Scott Howson been talking to the New York Rangers|
about 20-year-old blueliner Michael Del Zotto?
Beyond that, the scuttlebutt (the above link plus this and this) is that Howson may have offered up defensemen Fedor Tyutin for Del Zotto. Let's emphasize the rumor component of this part...we're descending into the deepest of unsubstantiated rumor. The rumor-mongers then suggest that Tyutin for Del Zotto is not enough for the Rangers (and, of course, the Rangers are entitled to roll the Blue Jackets over on such a trade...like the Tyutin/Backman for Zherdev/Fritsche trade...hee hee!), so they suggest Nikita Filatov as well.
Lots to discuss as we dissect this combination of sourced information and rumor...
Del Zotto: He's 20 years old, the first round pick of the Rangers in 2008 (20th overall). His 37 points last year in his rookie season were pretty sharp (signified by his inclusion in the 2010 NHL All-Rookie Team), but his youth was betrayed by a -20 on the plus-minus. (In contrast, the winner of the dreaded green jacket for the CBJ last season were Derick Brassard and Anton Stralman, tied at -17.) His forte appears to be the power play, where he "[l]ed the team in power play assists, ranked second in power play points, third in assists, tied for fourth in points, and ranked fifth in power play goals and eighth in goals." Gosh, a power play expert would be nice, wouldn't it?
This season, he's got 9 points thus far and has an even plus-minus. He's also second on the Rangers in blocked shots with 58. While he's clearly going through growing pains - the bloggers appear lukewarm on him right now - his upside is pretty evident. I also had a chance to watch the Rangers' morning skate when they came to town, and Del Zotto sure looked impressive.
Tyutin: You know I like Tyutin, but he probably best embodies the "square peg, round hole" problem that most of the CBJ defense has with the Arniel/Berry defensive scheme. He's even landed a healthy couple scratches for the first time in his career. That's not to say that he doesn't have the ability to rush up the ice -- I mean, last night, he dominated the offensive crease with this goal:
Do I like Tyutin? Sure. But I can see that while he's trying hard, he's still not a good fit for the new-look CBJ. Especially in comparison to Del Zotto. And if the Rangers really are coveting Tyutin, it makes sense to talk to them.
Filatov: Since getting sent down to Springfield, expect Nikita's name to pop up with every trade rumor. Much like there's sport in adding the phrase "in bed" after the sayings on Chinese fortune cookies, I have a feeling that "plus Filatov" will get a similar eye-rolling reputation. I'm not opposed to trading him - or any other member of the CBJ - if the price is right, but Tyutin + Filatov for Del Zotto is much too lopsided in New York's favor.
Scott Arniel: I had a feeling that something was up when Arniel started rotating the healthy scratches of defensemen. It's as if the Blue Jackets are testing out the effects of losing a given player from the lineup. Problem is, the CBJ slump has impacted Arniel's ability to judge the impact.
Scott Howson: If Howson isn't actively endorsing Arniel's "Blue Line Scratch o' the Day" philosophy as suggested in the preceding paragraph, it sounds like he's getting Arniel's message: "I can't win with this defensive roster, nor with this crappy power play." I like that he's looking around, and it's great that he's looking to fill skill gaps. But does Columbus REALLY need more kids on the roster? Personally, I'd like a Tomas Kaberle-type (a defenseman and shooter, but just a tad older) than a Del Zotto.
Regardless of the rumor, nothing's going to happen imminently - The Dispatch is reporting that there will be no roster changes to the CBJ between now and the holiday roster freezes. That's OK - as our resident personnel ninja, Scott Howson, is back out there, scouring the market for the best possible deals for the Columbus Blue Jackets.