Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Regarding Juice

There is a great deal of speculation about the future of Kristian Huselius (aka Juice) with the Columbus Blue Jackets.  Some bloggers, such as Light the Lamp make some version of unloading Juice as a center piece of their 2011-2012 CBJ reconstruction plans.  Which I can understand.  Juice can be a very frustrating player at times, creating opportunity, and passing up on it in favor of the 'sexy' play in the same moment.  But with the money we have invested in Juice, perhaps a less, um, urgent train of thought is worthy of consideration.

So I would like to offer some thoughts from my buddy Bill regarding Juice.  And, I might add, Bill is as impatient and cynical as any Day 1 season ticket holder, which he is.  Which makes his thoughts intriguing.

His thoughts are as follows:
Huselieus... A lot of people are saying trade him, some are saying buy him out, some say keep him.  The case against him seems to be he had a lousy season, and a terrible plus/minus.  Fair enough, but consider this: 
In his first season (playoff year) with the CBJ he had like 58 points and was plus 1.  He was either 2nd or 3rd in scoring and meanwhile everyone's hero, RJ Umberger was a team worst -10, and yet I have never heard anyone complain about his defense. 
In his 2nd season, Juice had 66 points and was like -4, which was not a bad +/- on a bad team.  Meanwhile, RJ Umberger was a -16 and the team worst was -17 (editor's note.  Brass and Stralman shared the -17.  RJ was -16, Hejda was -14, Chris Clark was -12, and Pahlsson was -9) 
So far this year, Juice had a high ankle sprain, which is a notoriously difficult injury to overcome, followed by other miscellaneous injuries like his knee and hip.  Considering all that, he has one terrible year, and people want to buy him out??  Now he is facing off season surgery.  That ought to help his trade value. 
Here is my play.  Look, Juice isn't my favorite player either, he can be quite frustrating, but at the end of the day he has been a productive player until this year.  I treat this year as a fluke.  Bring him back and put him on one of the top two lines if he is healthy.  If he has a good year, and the team has a good year, then great.  If he has a good year, and we have a bad year, dump him at the trade deadline, he'll be worth a lot more than he is now.  Worst case, he has another bad year, the team has another bad year, and you dump him at the trade deadline for about what you could get for him if you trade him now, or you let him walk next season. 
Buying him out is a really dumb idea. (Editor's note - coming off an injury, and being in a contract year, one would think the player would be focused on maximizing his value).  Trading him may be okay, but I think doing it this offseason is a case of sell low and buy high.  It would be better to do what we did with Zherdev, which was give him another year to let him bounce back and then sell high.
Gallos here again.  Well, I think Bill has a really good point.  Juice's value on the open market is at an all time low, especially given his salary.  Look, let's face it.  Arniel wants to play a puck possession system, and our guy who loves to hold the puck had a really debilitating injury.  In the absence of a sucker, we should be looking at keeping Juice.  And really, he has a lot to offer if he is healthy.  What team wouldn't like to get their second or third leading scorer back after having them fall off the charts?  The money for Juice's salary either comes from our wallets or from the profits of Worthington Industries.  I don't think either of those pots is ripe for squandering.

As much as I hate to say it, Juice has more value in a CBJ uniform than he does in a Flames uniform.  He has to prove he can be of value again, and that's on us, whether we like it or not.  C'mon Juice!  Get well!

Another Editorial Point from Gallos.  Our exhaustive review of LOFT issues in this space seems to indicate that we have a real necessity to attract a high priced free agent.  Turning on your free agents like a bunch of jackals when they have an injury is something that deters free agents from coming here.  I hear LTL's comments about 'Club CBJ' loud and clear, and think he has a good point.  On the other hand, attracting free agents is a sales job, and those on the market are likely to notice those former free agents if their carcass is being torn apart by the mob.  Its a high level, physical sport, and the odds of a player walking that path are pretty high.  So how we conduct ourselves as a fan base, while still demanding accountability, is important.

Are you listening Mr. Bieksa??



  1. get rid of the bum....

  2. My concern with Juice comes down to his age. As I talked about before, 32 is something of a "tipping point" in age for wingers. That gets worse when rehabbing major injuries.

    Could he prove us wrong? I sure hope so. But the numbers are NOT in his favor.

  3. +/- is not the tell all, as Juice did not see much time on the PK.

    I do like Bill's perspective for one reason. A consistent trend in sports, is many players have very good numbers in "contract years". The problem is where does Juice fit in, if he is not on the #1 line?

  4. to the second anonymous +/- record is only on regular 5v5 play not during PK and PP times. Now I will grant you that Juice does not see much time in the Defensive zone. While Umby does.

  5. I think both Bill and Gallos make good points. It is not imperative to either keep or dump Huselius, only to make the team better. If Juice cannot bring back, in some sort of package, a return in trade that improves the Jackets, then he stays. He's not a detriment for this team, even though he drives many fans crazy, and our lack of scoring doesn't allow us to just toss off guys who annually put up 50-70 points.

  6. Dark Blue JacketMay 4, 2011 at 1:05 PM

    +1 to Bill, Pete and Gallos. With an assist to BZArcher, because Juice is probably looking at the downside of the career curve.


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