Sunday, February 19, 2012

CBJ trade deadline watch (real and imagined)

The trade deadline is a delicious time for idle speculation, especially with a team who's on the cusp of blowing itself up and trying to start over at a foundational level.  To make that happen, players have to leave and players/prospects/draft picks have to come back.  It's the ultimate NHL parlor game.

And while I love a good rumor at least as much as the next guy, I started attempting to track the NHL scouts attending Columbus Blue Jackets games - home and away- in an effort to try to figure out which teams were serious about talking turkey with the CBJ and give context to the rumors that I've been seeing and hearing.  Not having a seat in the press box, I have to rely upon reports from media of which scouts were up there.  The reports were a tad scattered at first (hence no reports from the 1/31 San Jose and 2/3 Anaheim games), but they've become much more consistent as we've come closer to the February 27 NHL trade deadline.  Here's what I've recorded thus far (the numbers of scouts at a given game are indicated, but the "COUNT" at the bottom is the number of games attended by a given team thus far - a crude measurement of frequency and severity):


So what to make of this?  Try these thoughts on for size:
  • I'm sure CBJ general manager Scott Howson would trade within the division if the deal was right - he's done it before (Mike Blunden from Chicago, Nikita Nikitin from St. Louis).  Still the fact that Detroit has had scouts at 7 games and Chicago has scouts at 4 games tells me that those teams are more interested in keeping on top of developments within the division and with other teams around the league.  Read: I think that in-division scouting has more of a competitive element than a talent evaluation element.  
  • I think that scouts attending games with more frequency closer to the deadline means more than those were attending back in January.  That said, I really wonder who the Bruins were looking at on February 1st in Los Angeles.  Was it a King?  A Blue Jacket?  Players on both teams?
  • Things I'm still sorting out for I'm not hearing scuttlebutt on the Tweets: Carolina, Dallas, and perhaps Pittsburgh's more recent visits to CBJ games.  Who Washington was bearing down on (5 people over the three most recent games?).  
  • I'm amazed that the Rangers and Flyers, two teams with whom the CBJ are more seriously linked, have had such a minimal in-person scouting presence.  I appreciate that there are other means to scout - Buffalo has invested heavily in video scouting, for instance - but you'd think that they would get a little first-person look at the players that they're considering.
  • In the same vein, San Jose, Toronto and Vancouver - rumored trade partners - have a couple games to get serious looks at CBJ players.
I'm sure you can draw other nuggets to consider from the information presented.  Please feel free to share them in the comments below.

If this altogether too much, perhaps you might get a laugh out of looking at the whole trade deadline from Rick Nash's perspective:


Just over a week to go before the deadline, kiddos.  Enjoy the ride!

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