Monday, July 1, 2013

Filling the Cupboard, And Bob

Vezina Trophy Winner Sergei Bobrovsky inks a 2 year deal.
Last in the title of this post, but first in our hearts, is the news that Sergei Bobrovsky is confirmed to have signed a 2 year deal to remain the goal tender for the Columbus Blue Jackets.  Bob will be substantially richer, making just under $6 million per year, but he will also be a Restricted Free Agent (RFA) at the end of this deal.  So he has 2 years to establish a level of consistency on a par with other franchise goal tenders, and the hockey club is protected if that doesn't quite pan out.

This is a big day for the CBJ, because you don't want to let the winner of the second major piece of hardware in franchise history walk out the door in a contract dispute.  The Vezina Trophy is a major accomplishment for Bob (thus the money).  Yes I know Flyers goal tender Steve Mason won the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year, also a significant achievement.  But Mase only had to beat out the rest of the rookies, Bob had to beat out a whole league full of goal tenders.  The Vezina also looms large as he did not share it with anyone, while Nash's Rocket Richard Trophy was shared with two others.  So it was a significant moment in franchise history.  Well done Bob!

As we move into the East, and look to field a competitive team our first year in the conference, the goal tending is one less headache to worry about.  And, as I pointed out in this post its time to get Vinny Prospal back in the fold.  As I move into the rest of this post, Vinny's leadership will loom large.  The biggest mistake that CBJ management made after 2008-09 was letting Michael Peca walk.  The leadership void haunted the team for years.  (Peca's wheels were shot, no doubt, but we needed him more than anyone).  With an infusion of young talent available, having Vinny around to ease them into their pro careers is crucial.

And now, finally, I get to the draft.  Personally, I am quite pleased with how it turned out.  I felt the talent cupboard was a little bare, and Jarmo set about restocking it in a big way.  Forwards and a defensive defenseman actually fills the talent gaps in our development system very well.  My fear was that we would move one of the picks for 'immediate help' but that it would end up being for someone who wouldn't turn out to be an impact player.  My fear was unnecessary because every GM in this draft wanted the players on the board for the most part.

The biggest post-draft thing I am excited about is development camp.  Coming up soon, development camp looks like it will be very entertaining.  Lots of young players we haven't seen in the mix, and it will be the first time to see a lot of these picks skating together, and a chance to judge relative talent.  Pretty cool.

I will not be disappointed if none of these young players make the team this year.  These are mid to late first round picks, and it is an unrealistic expectation to see them make the big club.  We should see the first rounders in another year or two, when their off season workouts allow them to keep up with Jarmo.  Seriously dude.  I'm glad I can walk, much less do a hockey player fitness regime.  Wowza.

Young talent will also function to push existing talent over the next couple of years.  The guy this will put the most pressure on is Ryan Johansen, and it will help him to push his development to the next step.  So far it is going well, but he still needs to be pushed some.  Fortunately, that never happens to any other young players in the league Tyler *cough* Seguin.  It's too early to fret unduly about Joey.

Alexander Wennberg brings speed and skill, Kerby Rychel brings goal scoring ability and a truly awesome cat, Marko Dano has already played in the KHL, and we can look for the roars of 'Book 'em Dano' after he scores in Nationwide Arena in the future.  Keep in mind that for Rychel and Dano I'm usually trying to sell optimism about second and a third round pick in a typical year.  We have those too this year!  The cupboard is stocked once again, and it should be interesting to see how this plays out.

GO JACKETS!

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