Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Bromancer

Multiple Twitter reports are coming out today that Scott Howson and up to three Columbus Blue Jackets scouts are present at the Philadelphia Flyers-New York Rangers game today.  As I've grown to understand the odd world of National Hockey League player personnel, that signifies a pretty strong level of interest in the players involved in the game.

Surely Scott Howson isn't in Philadelphia today to
grab a cheesteak sandwich.
(To give you the DBJ notion of how I interpret the scout-to-game ratio: A single scout at a game doesn't represent much more than the team keeping up with what's going on around the league.  Two scouts suggests something or someone is of interest to the team.  The presence of the Assistant General Manager and perhaps Craig Patrick suggests there's some heat on the fire.  If Howson shows up, something's definitely cooking.)

While the fun/wiseguy view of this is that Howson is trying to somehow revisit the Jeff Carter-Jake Voracek trade, I'm guessing that not to be the case. Simply put, I'm presuming from all the post-trade scuttlebutt that Philly GM Paul Holmgren moved Carter and Mike Richards out of the Flyers dressing room as a pair for a reason.  Plus, Voracek has 9 goals and 22 assists on the season for the Flyers (those 31 points would place him third on the CBJ point scoring list).  Never mind that rookie Sean Couturier, the Flyers' draftee with the CBJ's number one pick from the 2011 draft, has 20 points on his own.  So even if Howson was hell-bent on moving Carter (something I don't necessarily agree with), where's the incentive for Philadelphia to do a "do-over"?

That's not to say that Howson doesn't have a thing for current/ex-Philadelphia Flyers.  Remember, he's picked up Scottie Upshall and R.J. Umberger (via trade).  And while the Umberger and Carter deals prove that Howson can communicate with Holmgren, my money is on the Blue Jackets looking at the New York Rangers roster.

Why?  Two words: Vinny Prospal.
I'm not looking as much at Prospal having a halo effect as much as Howson reverting to form around the trade deadline.  Simply put, Howson has been shown to lean on players that he respects for personnel intelligence.  

For evidence of this behavior, look at last season's Upshall/Lepisto trade deadline swap for Rusty Klesla.  Sure, Upshall and Lepisto were rental players and moving Klesla was a salary dump.  Yet at the time, recall that the word around the locker room was that R.J. Umberger was the "conscience" (an amorphous and thus useless description if ever there was one, but that's another blog post) of the team.  If memory serves correct, Howson was also seen (I believe by a Dispatch reporter) chatting about things with Umberger close to the deadline - implied in the reporting was that Howson was looking for advice on players R.J. might know something about.  If you buy this line of speculation, it shouldn't be surprising that Upshall and, later on, Carter - players with whom Umberger went to battle - ended up on the Blue Jackets roster.

"So Vinny, who do you want to see on your team?"
Let's not go as far as to say that Umberger has lost his apparently prominent place in Howson's hockey heart.  However, the comments that Howson has made over Prospal in the last week - not to mention the "gentleman's agreement" (another already well-worn term) where Prospal has all but been guaranteed post-playing employment with the team - suggest that Howson has another personnel bromance a-brewin'.

Thus, it's my guess (based upon past behavior) that Howson has been picking Prospal's mind about players whom would be useful in turning this train wreck of a team around.  Prospal, now firmly On Board the CBJ train, draws upon his most recent non-Blue Jackets experience - the New York Rangers.  (And it doesn't hurt that Howson has proven that he can swing a meaningful deal with Rangers GM Glen Sather as well, as proven by the 2008 Zherdev/Fritsche for Tyutin/Backman trade.)

I'm not a personnel genius, so I can't say that I know who's coming and who's going.  I can, however, draw from past actions to predict future behavior.  The fact that Howson has such a public affiliation with Prospal, combined with the fact that he's sitting in on the Rangers-Flyers game with roughly two weeks until the trade deadline, tells me to presume a greater likelihood of a New York Ranger coming to Columbus.

Of course, I could be all wrong.  Wouldn't be the first time.  At least half the fun's in the speculation and tea leaf reading, though!

[UPDATE: One of the writers tweets that Howson met for an extended period with the Flyers' Holmgren.  Go figure.]

1 comment:

  1. Does that mean that he was really picking Jeff Carter's mind?


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