Continuing a thread we have been following, we are evaluating available free agent talent that could really help the CBJ in the off season. We are following up on a talent evaluation system, originated over on Light the Lamp and discussed in this previous post here on Dark Blue Jacket, that is affectionately called the LOFT Tiers (Lack of Flippin' Talent).
Working off of the Tiering system suggested in our previous post, the following are the available free agent forwards who would have an impact on the cumulative Columbus Blue Jacket LOFT Tiers:
Teemu Selane - ANA - R - 31 - IV
Brad Richards - DAL - C - 28 - IV
Erik Cole - CAR - R - 26 - IV
Curtis Glencross - CGY- L - 24 - V
Mike Knuble - WSH - R - 24- V
Alex Tanguay - CGY - L - 22 - V
Milan Hejduk - COL - R - 22 - V (finished -23 in +/-)
Scottie Upshall - CBJ - R - 22 - V
Jussi Jokinen, Ville Leino, and Radim Vrbata all just missed Tier ranking status by only having 19 goals instead of 20, and, you know, kinda crazy names.
Conclusion for the forwards:
The lustful thought of Brad Richards lining up at Center alongside Rick Nash causes one to salivate. But I think I would submit that you could afford to drop big dollars on either Erik Cole OR Brad Richards. Cole is listed as playing the Right Wing (though he is listed as a left shot), and the bookends of Nash and Erik Cole would take a lot of pressure off of any center. Cole is 26 years old, Richards is 30. Errata - Cole is 32 years old. Given that you would certainly want to reconsider the next statement) You could certainly go with a 4 year contract for Nash money for Cole (Nash scored 32 goals this year). That might be a little riskier for Richards, but if its high risk, the potential rewards could be huge.
I couldn't see even trying to make an offer to the Finnish Flash. He ain't coming here, and we're not going to offer him that kind of money.
Mike Knuble's age (38) would make him pretty high risk playing day to day in the rugged West. If you could get him for a 2 year contract at decent money maybe he'd be worth a taking a chance at, maybe. Given his age, its a good bet Howson will have a man crush on him.
For Glencross and Tanguay, we are up to our necks in left wings. I doubt Glencross would ever come here. Its a shame we lost that player on an acknowledged bad trade. At the time he did really want to be in Western Canada, not Ohio.
That leaves Scottie Upshall. Scottie had a career year this year. I really doubt he repeats those numbers. But he was a good player, and if we could get a decent deal he'd be worth signing. The fact that he clicks with Umberger is something worth paying for. I think that having him all through training camp would lead to a bigger impact from his personality.
At the end of the day, it really looks like, from the forward perspective, that trying to sign Brad Richards would really be worth it. C'mon Howson! Find a way to get this done! Ship that number 8 draft pick to Dallas for the rights to Richards, and get 'er done before the deadline.