One commenter, roadman, raised some really good points. So first of all, most importantly. Thanks for reading. We appreciate it. Secondly, and nearly most importantly, thanks for taking the time to comment. I think its important to hear other perspectives, and be able to consider them. I thought his comments of sufficient validity and weight to want to take some time to discuss them, other than trying to use a cell phone to reply, an inadequate venue, at best.
His first comment went as follows:
But aren't you also selling a number of these young men a little short? Isn't the reason they have worked all these years, to make an NHL team? Some of these guys have already played in the show, as much as a year in the case of Ryan Johansen. Would you deny them their opportunity to earn an NHL level paycheck?
This is a really great comment, and gets to the down side of what I am asking and suggesting. Of all the people down at the AHL now, the one most affected is Curtis McElhinney. Here's a guy who has been an NHL goaltender, gotten injured, got traded, and sent to the AHL. He is a big part of Springfield's success to date, and of all the players down there, probably most deserves an NHL shot. But I leave him down there, for a couple of reasons.
First, as an organization, we want to see Mac put in a whole season in goal. He's coming back from an injury , sugery (I think), and we want to see if he's good for the long haul. Second, bring him up for a truncated NHL season, and we have 3 goalies we are trying out, Mac, Bobrovsky, and Mason. Mason, short of a 0.65 GAA and 0.96 save percentage in extensive work, won't be back. There is room for Mac to take a shot next year. If he gets dinged a little, misses some games at the AHL, he has the room to heal up and come back. He gets brought up into a 3 goalie situation, gets dinged, and his career could be done. Better to have a stable goal tending situation in Springfield, and have Mac ready and able to come up and compete for the number 1 job next year.
|Ryan Johansen at Development Camp|
Cam Atkinson, Matt Calvert, and Jonathan Audy-Marchessault (JAM) are all kind of cut from the same mold. The are relatively small, quick skill players. This is not to diminish in any way their toughness, desire, want, you name it. These guys are good hockey players. At the NHL level, you MIGHT be able to get away with two of them on the roster, but that's it. Don't get me wrong, as a fan I love these guys. Marty St.Louis isn't big, and look what he's done for the 'Bolts, but you also have to line up against the San Jose Sharks 4 to 6 times a year. Cam and Matt have done time at the NHL level in the past. Matt's problems at the NHL level are coming close to derailing his career. Having one of the largest guys in the game jump you in a pre-season game, resulting in an injury pretty much trashed his NHL hopes last year, along with the CBJ's miserable start, and he didn't exactly tear up the AHL last year. Another year in the AHL for both of these guys won't hurt them, and will add the maturity necessary to withstand the beating they are going to take in the NHL.
The CBJ have not exactly been stellar in player development. I would argue that to a certain extent that is a function of being an expansion franchise, and the dearth of talent the comes with the turf when you are in that situation. So pulling on our experience could be doubtful. The anecdote I would use to support my line of thought is from Ken Holland, the General Manager of the Detroit Redwings. In talking about the pre-2004-05 lockout maneuverings when the Red Wings loaded up on high priced veteran talent that all were left to walk in the cap era, Holland referred to the luxury they had of leaving Henrik Zetterburg in Sweden to win a scoring title in the Swedish Elite league. Obviously, that helped Zetterburg's confidence when he came to the NHL. My argument is that we, as an organization, have to make that luxury for ourselves, and this year, this time, is the time to do it. Anything these players might gain out of a short NHL season, they can gain in the AHL.
The second really good comment roadman made was this:
While there is something to be said about working together at the AHL level there are also a number of players on the "Big" club that they can be learning to play with as well. They are going to be around them a lot more years than they will most of the guys in Springfield.
I think this is a really good comment, although I would qualify it. In about 10 of our clubs 12 seasons (assuming a truncated season this year is one of them), I think this comment has a lot of value. In between the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons I'm not sure it would be true, due to the amount of turn over in the roster. Of course the other year that would be true is the 2012-13 team. There has been a complete overhaul of the CBJ roster. No one on this team knows each other, and they have to learn to play with each other on the fly this year. While its possible the youngsters could integrate well into this chaos, its definitely a risk.
On the other hand, taking a long term view, Ryan Johanson, Cam Atkinson (or JAM or Calvert), Tim Erixon, John Moore, David Savard are almost certain to form the CBJs core group going forward over the long term. With Springfield sitting atop the AHL in the standings, you have a unique opportunity to imbue your future core with experience with winning. To be frank, this isn't likely to happen with the big club this year. Keeping these guys together to forge a winning attitude for the future is a priceless opportunity.
Roadman's other really good comment concerns filling the roster and AHL players on other teams:
You have to fill out the roster, the CBJ will need at least 2 Forwards and 2 Defensemen. and to me you ice the best team you can, anything else is just pure and plain TANKING. Do you really think there are 2 forwards and 2 defensemen out there better than Atkinson, Johansen, JAM, Erixon, Savard and Moore? Should EDM leave Hall, RNH, Schultz, and the rest in OKC? Should Huberdeau stay for seasoning? Would you give Holtby another year to mature? The list is extensive.
Well, to answer your question, yes, we do have to fill out the roster. I do think our strategy should be to back fill the roster with veterans who will do as well as our young guys for 48 games. For instance, you could bring back Jody Shelley, a guy in the last year, of his last contract as a glue guy for the locker room. He is still immensely popular in Columbus, and you could make a place for him in the organization. Is he better than our young players over the long term? Of course not. Might he not fit well in a shortened season? Very possibly yes.
Secondly,no, I am not suggesting that it would be appropriate to keep Hall, RNH, and Shultz in OKC. They don't play for the Columbus Blue Jackets organization, and their situation is completely different. First of all, OKC is in about 4th place in its division. Second, you are talking about a bunch of number 1 overall picks. I'm talking about Blue Jackets players. What I am saying applies very uniquely to Columbus, and rests a lot on the good work that our prospects have already done this year. If Springfield was a middling team, or near the bottom of it division, I would agree completely with you. I am talking about a unique opportunity for these young players to pursue a championship. We should let them take that chance.
And, in keeping with your comments, I think it is important to communicate this goal to these players. "The big club is in transition. Your goal is to try to win the Calder Cup. We promise to support you in that, and minimize the disruption to your team. Don't worry, we'll be paying attention". I also personally think that John Davidson is uniquely qualified to deliver that type of message to these young men, and to inspire them to pursue that goal. That is a critical part of what I am saying.
Lastly, I'd like to express my deep appreciation to roadman for expressing your comments. You forced me to explain myself more fully. I certainly hope you do not perceive this commentary to be negative. Lastly, you may have noticed that we have this lockout on, and content is hard to come by. Thank you for the inspiration.
GO JACKETS!! GO FALCONS!! HATCHED AND HUNGRY!!