Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January 23-29+AHL All Star Game Prospect Review

Back again folks like last year I decided to wait a day so I didnt have to spread the AHL All Star Game stuff between two posts. Starting off in the AHL regular season the Falcons won 3 in a row for the second time this year and much like back then it was a goalie out of nowhere that won all three. I kid sorta because we all saw what Paul Dainton could do in the preseason, Paul went 3-0 last week with a 1.67GAA and a .947 save percentage. Leading the way for the Falcons was Martin St. Pierre with 3 assists giving him 32 on the year which is fifth in the AHL. Alexandre Giroux had 2 goals to give him 15 this season. Other Falcons with multiple points were Matt Calvert with two assists and four players with a goal and a assist were Dane Byers, Maksim Mayorov, David Savard and Cam Atkinson. All right keeping the update on Chicago brief,(like i always claim to then dont)Steven Delisle played in one game for Chicago last week playing in the Express's overtime loss to Cincinnati.

Boone Jenner-Oshawa Generals(OHL)
Stats 35GP 18-22-40 +4 53PIM
Boone played in two of the Generals three games last week missing the team's last game as a precaution after a hit(according to Rob Mixer and Oshawa PR). Boone had a assist in the teams's loss to Brampton.

Dalton Smith-Ottawa 67s(OHL)
Stats 38GP 14-9-23 -3 59PIM
Dalton had no points in the 67s three games last week with the team going 2-1 last week.

Columbus Should Build With Jeff Carter

As the trade deadline approaches, it doesn't surprise me that Jeff Carter's name is quickly thrown around as a guy worth sending out of town via trade. So much speculation has been presented by media this year regarding his interest in the organization, yet for some reason, the conversation is rarely connected by something he has actually come out and said.  I can understand why a lot of people don't have a connection with him and assume the negative end of the story, but for a team riddled with inconsistency, why should so much be shouldered by him?  When looking to build on players, a potential forty goal scorer is a great start.

To begin this piece, I want to point out something relatively obvious.  Carter has been struggling this year.  Injuries, including a nagging foot, and a separated shoulder have kept him from gaining any form of competitive edge, and forced him out of the lineup for 19 regular season games (just shy of 40% of the regular season).  Despite all of his time injured, he still managed to score ten goals, which laughably remains second on the team.  I'll get more into this later on in the post.

To suggest he has had a fair look in Columbus is ridiculous; Injuries, very little time to build chemistry, and a depth of speculation that is quite embarrassing even for Columbus.  While I am far from personally faulting him for an off year, I thought it would be good to take some time to compare his pros and cons in order to gain a better representation of why I think he should be a part of this organization for years to come.

Friday, January 27, 2012

It Starts at the Top

There has been a lot of commotion in #CBJ-land the last few days over the protest to be held at Nationwide Arena this weekend. I've mostly stayed quiet on this topic, as the protest seems very absurd to me. Among the problems are the time and location (at a place void of any decision makers or fans on this particular date), as well as the targets of the protest. The protest is aimed at convincing Blue Jackets ownership to fire President Mike Priest and General Manager Scott Howson. The problem is that this will not solve the issues facing the Blue Jackets.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Building a Winner Through the Draft

There has been a lot of dissatisfaction about the Columbus Blue Jackets record this year.  They sit in 30th in the National Hockey League at 13-30-6, nine points off 29th ranked Edmonton, and are currently riding a four game losing streak.  It comes at no surprise that the fans are at their wits end with losing, and yet, all this losing could be the best thing Columbus has done since drafting Rick Nash.

What I have compiled below is a collection of teams who utilized the draft (more than likely unintentionally) to produce teams far stronger than their General Managers could trade for.  In fact, in every case, they provided the foundation of the team through drafting franchise players at extremely high picks.  What Columbus has failed to do, is play poorly enough to achieve a franchise level player. Drafting players like Voracek (7th) and Brassard (6th) certainly provide the opportunity for growth in the long term, but they don't do a great job of producing players the team can build around.

If you want a comparison to Jake and Brass, consider who was drafted prior to them in their draft years.  For Brassard, it was a collection of sturdy talent. Erik Johnson, Jordan Staal, Jonathan Toews, Niklas Backstrom, and Phil Kessel.  Up until Brassard's pick, I would probably be comfortable in replacing him with at least 3-4 of the top five picks that year.  When you consider the impact of a player like Toews or Backstrom vs a player like Brassard (or Okposo, Mueller, Frolik - who were drafted after him) you can quickly see the difference between a player with the potential to become a top line player, and a pick who immediately becomes a player of relevance on a team.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Time to Turn the Page in Columbus

At some point, after the bitter pill of another loss is swallowed, the patience deteriorates into extreme dissatisfaction.  For me, last night was simply that kind of night.  It was right around the point when the first period finished, with the Jackets surrendering twelve shots to the Predators in the first period while only mustering three of their own.  walking into the dressing room without a pulse, without a goal, and me without patience.

This has been written before.  The Jackets lost, and they never really had the on ice presentation of threatening to win at any point in the game. Sure, Nash made a tremendous play to tie the game at one apiece, but there would never be another scenario where I was on the edge of my seat in anticipation of a goal.  They lack confidence.  They lack resolve.  They lack a lot of things.

I'd call this a recap but there really isn't much point in recapping something that has been repeated over, and over, and over again this year.  Instead, I am going to offer this: I'm ready for the purge.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

January 16-22 Blue Jackets Prospect Week In Review

Well seeing as I didnt recieve a DM or a fax(BTTF2 reference anyone?) with YOURE FIRED!!! on it so I guess I better get going.
It was a ROUGH!!! weekend in Springfield not only did both goalies have GAAs a bit under 5 and save percentages in the low 80s. The Falcons went 0-3 last week getting outscored 15-10 allowing nine of those 15 in the first period. Leading the was Andrew Joudrey with 2 goals(6,7) and a assist, Ill admit even I forget about Joudrey being down there or at least I have to check if he's under contract with the CBJ which he is. Other Falcons with multiple points include every Jacket fans favorite Mogwai Cam Atkinson who scored goals 22 and 23 last week moving him into second in the AHL in goal scoring. Alexandre Giroux and Nicholas Drazenovic each had a goal and a assist while 4 Falcons had 2 assists including Dane Byers(gotta love the NHL-AHL justice system) Maksim Mayorov, Martin St. Pierre and Brett Regner. Now let's get negative the Falcons goalies were abysmal non Blue Jacket property Manny Legace went 0-2 with a 4.79GAA and a .811 save percentage playing in all three games, he started off allowing 5 goals in not even half a game a game in which ex Miami Redhawk Andy Miele had 3 assists on his bobblehead night no less(life size I hear). Legace then at least played the whole game on Sunday(the only Falcon goalie to do that this weekend) allowing 4 goals on 19 shots. Now to Mark Dekanich...Mark Dekanich the guy we thought might help the Jackets season. Dekanich after stopping 14 of 14 in the game in which Legace allowed 5 Mark got the start against Albany and made it through the first period(to quote Mork from Ork "heavy sigh") Legace closed out the game stopping 18 of 19. What had to make this game sting even more is that Scott Howson was watching this brutal outing for Dekanich.

Lets keep the ECHL update brief the Express went 1-1 last week with Steven Delisle being the only Jacket prospect to play in either game. Allen York served as AHL goalie Peter Mannino's backup. Delisle played in Saturday's loss to Cincinnati a game in which he was a -2 with no points after being sent down earlier in the day. I feel bad for Allen and Steven or as they should be called now the yo-yo boys after both have been piling up the frequent flyer miles. Im considering this season a wash for Allen since he cant seem to get settled in with a team either because of injuries a level higher or some AHL team in Canada sent down its third goalie.

Boone Jenner-Oshawa Generals(OHL)
Stats 33GP 18-21-39 +7 53PIM
It was a 3 in 3 weekend for Boone and the Generals starting off with a quick one game road trip to Ottawa for a game(highlights about 1:10 in) against fellow CBJ prospect Dalton Smith and the 67s. Boone had a assist his 20th on the game's opening goal Nicklas Jensen's 1st shorthanded goal of the season, the Generals lost that game 8-3. The General's next game was the Boone Jenner Show(needs a theme song) Jenner picked up his first career hat trick then adding a assist and was a +5 and of course was named first star. Oshawa finished the weekend with a 3-0 win over Barrie but Boone had no points in the win. So here's how Boone's weekend ended up a 2-1 record for the Generals and Boone had 3 goals and 2 assists and was a +6 with six penalty minutes.

Dalton Smith-Ottawa 67s(OHL)
Stats 35GP 14-9-23 -3 57PIM
In three games last week Dalton continued his strong play of late picking up a point in each of Ottawa's games last week. The 67s started the week in Peterborough and in the 9-4 romp Dalton scored his 13th of the season. Next it was back home to welcome the Generals in the 8-3 Ottawa win Dalton scored 14th of the season on the power play also adding his eigth assist on teammate Tyler Toffoli's 35th of the season. On Sunday Kitchener came to town and the 67s finished off the weekend with its closest win of the weekend taking a 4-3 descision from the Rangers, Dalton had a assist in the win. With points in all three games Dalton is now on a four game point streak and has five points in that span.

Brandon Archibald-Saginaw Spirit(OHL)
Stats 45GP 1-11-12 -6 52PIM
It was rough weekend for Brandon after missing the Spirit's shootout loss to Barrie with a injury, Brandon played in "one of the weirdest hockey games he's ever been part of". Which I can understand I mean how many 9-8 hockey games have you seen. The Spirit were trailing 5-2 the team exploded for five straight in the second. Brandon had a assist in the wacky Spirit win, I think it shows how rough of the years been in Saginaw is that Brandon's 12 points lead the Spirit D in scoring while the team's leading scorer has 56 points. Then in a game against Mississauga
Brandon suffered a injury when he took a slapshot of the calf and was seen on crutches after the game.

Lukas Sedlak-Chicoutimi Sagueneens(QMJHL)
Stats 33GP 14-19-33 +12 38PIM
Me and my big blog after raving about Sedlak's strong play of late he went pointless in the Sag's 2 games last week but won 59% of his faceoffs in the team's two games.

Petr Straka-Rimouski Oceanic(QMJHL)
Stats 35GP 10-13-23 -7 21PIM
Petr Straka went scoreless in the Oceanic's two games last week a win over Chicoutimi and a loss to Baie-Comeau.

Mathieu Corbiel-Saint John Sea Dogs(QMJHL)
Stats 35GP 26-9 .905SV% 2.05GAA 4 Shutouts
I was wrong last week when I said Corbeil would sit one game because of his backup earning a shutout in his last start but as usual I was wrong. Mathieu got the start against his old team the Halifax Mooseheads and Corbeil stopped 29 of 32 to pick up his 26th win of the season. When Rob Kunz asked me on twitter about the CBJ goalie prospects I told him Corbeil plays on a juggernaut and seeing as Corbeil has won 39 games in Saint John after winning only 18 in Halifax. Corbeil then didnt play in the Sea Dogs win over Acadie-Bathurst.

Michael Chaput-Shawnigan Cataractes(QMJHL)
Stats 39GP 12-31-43 +26 33PIM
In the Cat's win over Quebec Michael earned his 31st assist of the season in his 38th game of the season after having 34 in 62 games last year with the now deceased Lewiston MAINEiacs. Then in Shawingan's loss to Gatineau with only 37 seconds left in the game it got nasty when one of Chaput's team crashed the goalie a little to hard in the Olympiques eyes leading to a full on line brawl earning Michael the normal major and 2 game misconducts.(Chaput is number 62 in the video). Time for a quick plug at the start of the year all players on Shawinigan had to shutdown there twitter accounts but for some reason there all back until the playoffs, you can follow Michael at @MichaelChaput62.

Austin Madaisky-Kamloops Blazers(WHL)
Stats 47GP 9-27-36 +16 52PIM
Ok this weeks stats and last weeks arent gonna add up because the WHL decided to add a few assists to Austin's totals(not that he's complaining). Onto this week, in 3 wins last week part on a 9 game win streak. Austin had a assist last week and that came in the Blazer's biggest win of the season in a battle of the top two teams in the WHL.

Oliver Gabriel-Portland Winterhawks(WHL)
Stats 15GP 6-4-10 +2 24PIM
In three games last week Oliver had three goals all in a game against the top team in the WHL(at the time) the Tri-City Americans. Oliver had his first career hat trick(goals 1,2,3) and fourth 3 point game of his career in the Winterhawks franchise record 17th straight home win. After that it was off to Spokane for a two game road trip in which the Hawks lost both by a combined score of 11-3.

Thomas Larkin-Colgate Red Raiders(ECAC)
Stats 22GP 2-7-9 +6 30PIM
In the Raiders tie with Harvard and overtime loss to Dartmouth Larkin had no points and 2 penalty minutes in the tie with Harvard. Thomas hasnt had a point since late November.

Sean Collins-Cornell Big Red(ECAC)
Stats 19GP 6-8-14 +5 4PIM
Cornell added to the nation's longest unbeaten streak(4-0-3) with a win and a tie last weekend beating Dartmouth in OT and then tying with Harvard. In the win on Friday Collins added to the longest point streak of his career when he had a assist for the fourth straight game, the eight assists tie his career high from last year. The streak was snapped in the game against Harvard.

In a quick they didnt play update both Martin Ouelette or Mike Reilly didnt play last week. Ouelette hasnt had a start since November 11th and since starter Dan Sullivan is also a Sophomore I'm not sure what Ouelette should do. Mike Reilly is still out with the injury I talked about in last week's post. According to Vees broadcaster Fraser Rodgers Mike was re-evaluated today(1/23).

Trent Vogelhuber Will Weber-Miami Redhawks(CCHA)
Stats TV-24GP 2-7-9 E 43PIM WW-26GP 0-3-3 -4 26PIM
Miami swept Western Michigan last week outscoring the Broncos 7-1. Both Trent and Will went scoreless in Friday's overtime win. Trent picked up a assist on Saturday his first since January 6th. Will Weber had no points on the weekend but was a +2 as was Trent.

Kevin Lynch Michigan Wolverines(CCHA)
Stats 26GP 4-4-8 -2 26PIM
Kevin Lynch went scoreless for the third straight weekend in Michigan's split with Notre Dame. The Wolverines are done until February, Lynch had no points in January and was a +1 with 2 penalty minutes.
Seth Ambroz Jake Hansen-Minnesota Golden Gophers(WCHA)
Stats SA-26GP 4-3-7 +3 41PIM JH-27GP 9-15-24 +12 34PIM
The Gophers faced off with the Colorado College Tigers earning a split. Jake Hansen was the only Jackets prospect to earn a point when he had a assist on Nick Bjustad's team leading 20th goal of the season. Jake and Seth played on the same line on Friday with Eric Haula centering the duo.

Drew Olson-Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs(WCHA)
Stats 24GP 1-2-3 +4 41PIM
S.O.P for Olson no points couple of penalty minutes on the weekend, the only minor change of pace is he was a minus for the first time since November 5 Olson had been a +10 since then.

TJ Tynan-Notre Dame Fighting Irish(CCHA)
Stats 25GP 9-24-33 +2 22PIM
Tynan and the Irish welcomed Michigan to town earning a split the Wolverines. In the game Friday TJ Tynan had 2 assists his fifth straight game with a point(even though he missed one of the Irish's game because of the WJC). The game was Tynan's 10th multi point game of the season. The Irish lost the game on Saturday in which Tynan went pointless snapping his streak.

Anton Forsberg-MODO(Sweden)
Stats-Main Club 9GP 3-3 .899SV% 3.08GAA U20 Team 3GP 2-0-1 .904 2.59GAA
Anton played games at both levels for MODO last week winning both games. On Wednesday Forsberg started against HV71 winning his 3rd game of the year stopping 32 of 33 in a 4-1 win over the Chainsaws(HV stands for Husquavarna the chainsaw company, sounds cooler). Then on Saturday it was back with the junior MODians...MODOrs...nevermind, in the win Anton stopped 31 of 32 to win his second with the junior club.

There you have it folks another week in the lives of the Jackets prospects as for next week the highlights are the AHL all star game that Cam Atkinson will be taking part in plus we have a big series in the NCAA with Thomas Larkin and Colgate facing off with Sean Collins and Cornell in a home and home.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Looking Back at Day One of the 2011/2012 Season

This summer marked the first real time in Blue Jackets history where the fans really and truly got what they wanted.  A number one center to play with Rick Nash, which had been the talk of the 'needs' list for over half of a decade.  A top tier defenseman that could generate offense with the puck and quarterback the struggling powerplay.  Another top tier prospect that could electrify the fans and become a franchise player alongside Rick Nash.

We got Carter.
We got Wiz.
We got Johansen (in the lineup).

The excitement, at least for me, was palpable. I attended the last pre-season game against Minnesota and then went on to attend eight of the first ten home games.  If you folks missed it, I would like to share a couple of my experiences because they really engaged me in the team.

Game Recap :: Columbus vs. Nashville 1/19

On a snowy Thursday night in January, I was ready to forgive the small crowd at Nationwide.  I had an opportunity to make the 1.5 hour drive and backed out on account of the weather, but 17,233 other folks braved the storm and the team record in order to watch them play.  "Gotta See it Live" in full effect apparently, and if you're one of those who did attend, I commend you.  17k for a weekday game of the 30th place team (by seven points) is darn near unheard of.  The legitimacy of Columbus as a hockey market continues to grow.

Unfortunately the team didn't do the crowd any favours on the scoreboard, but they did manage to make a game of it, including a third period that saw them outshoot the Predators by a big margin (shots were 18-8).  Full marks to Rinne who played a tremendous game of hockey, but more on that later.  I did not like what I saw in the second period, as the Jackets were outshot and played a completely different game from the first.  Fortunately for those watching, it was short lived, and they found life again for the final frame, but it seems like the same old story for Columbus, where they simply can't put together a full sixty minute effort.

It was a shame to see all of those rebounds find their way back into Rinne.  Once again I will say his capacity to keep pucks out of the net was extremely high last night, but there were a couple of occasions where a raised puck or a puck shot in a better direction would have easily beat him.  In fact, Nash had two specifically exciting opportunities, but the reactionary decision was to hammer them on net low and hard, and unfortunately they were stopped.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Is There Still Value in Kristian Huselius?

If you scroll back through the last couple of years on CTF, I am sure you can find a handful of posts that reference Kristian Huselius in a negative light, and probably even more suggesting a potential deal that would remove him from the Jackets lineup as well as the payroll.  Having said that, I think it is time to really look at what Huselius is worth to the team moving forward, and whether the future Jackets roster can afford to employ him on any one of their four lines. So let's begin.

First, a quick look at his career stats.  "Juice" was drafted in the second round in 1997 by the Florida Panthers, but spent arguably his best years with Calgary, having been dealt for Steve Montador and Dustin Johner.  After his contract expired, he signed with the Blue Jackets in 2008 as an unrestricted free agent, for an annual cap hit of 4.75 million.  His career stats are as follows:

As noted earlier, his best numbers came in Calgary, but he also managed to provide Columbus with impressive offensive totals for the first two years of his contract.  In fact, with a career average shooting percentage of almost 12.5%, Juice is the ideal candidate for a team in direct need of additional scoring.  His time on ice has never topped twenty minutes per game on average which is realistic, and I went ahead and removed the short handed career statistics considering the unlikelihood of him spending too much time there for the rest of his career.  With that said, his injury plagued seasons with Columbus generate what should be an obvious red flag, and for a team like Columbus who shocked the fan base with spending almost exactly to the cap this year, 4.75 million on the cap for a big bandaid can cause some major dissatisfaction.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

January 8-14 CBJ Prospect Week In Review

Greetings Blue Jackets fans, yes you read it right on twitter(if your on twitter and follow me but details details) I'm back baby. First I wanna thank Craig at Firethecannon.com for letting me post my stuff there for the last 2 seasons. He was the first person to give me a shot and I really appreciated it. So without further ado lets go.

Starting off in Springfield it was your normal 3 in 3 weekend for the Falcons starting at home taking on Portland and in that game the Falcons pretty much pulled a Blue Jackets leading 4-1 going into the 3rd then allowing 3 straight Pirate goals finishing with a 5-4 shootout loss. I know he's not a prospect in the true sense of what I normally cover but Mark Dekanich started the game and made 27 saves then stopping 3 of 5 in the shootout, one of the goals he allowed was on a penalty shot. On Saturday it up to Maine to finish off the home and home with the Pirates, this time the Falcons pulled off a 4-2 victory with old man river Manny Legace making 26 saves in the win. On Sunday it was back to the nest and another episode of the Dexshow, and it was another rough one. Dekanich stopped 24 of 28 along with a empty net goal by Ohio State product Matt ("Chuck" at least that's what id nickname him) Bartowksi which was his second of the night. On the weekend it was Maksim Mayorov and Martin St. Pierre leading the way with a goal and 2 assists. The only other Falcons with multiple points were Cam Atkinson with 2 goals(20,21) and Andrew Joudrey, Matt Calvert and Alexandre Giroux with a goal and assist. Mark Dekanich's weekend went like this 0-1-1 with a 3.89 GAA and a .864 save percentage.

After a winter in Chicago a week long trip to Florida probably sounded great to the Express but you have to play the games, the Express went 0-2-1. Allen York only made it into 1 game trying to clean up Paul Dainton's mess entering the game when the score was 5-2 allowing 2 goals on 14 shots, York then served as Peter Mannino's back up in the team's loss and overtime loss to the Everblades. Steven Delisle played in all 3 games and I think Steven made a friend for life because in the first 2 games Steven fought the same opponent both nights taking on Scott Fletcher. Everything else pretty much went wrong on the trip for Steven including being a -4 in the Express's 7-2 loss on Friday then being a -1 on Saturday night, Sunday is when it got wild. On Sunday the Express battled to a 3-3 tie going all the way to a shootout and it was a quick one only took 15 rounds. Shooter 15 for the Express just happened to be the 6'6" 210lb defensemen all of 1 career point(a assist) Steven Delisle and he missed which gave Florida first place in the South Division.

New Look Jackets Behind Todd Richards

Sometimes the atmosphere around an arena can become stale.  I am not one who normally attends practice, and after experiencing an Arniel practice shortly after the new year had arrived, I was not really left with the need to attend another one.  The drills were reasonable, and the effort was somewhat there, but the atmosphere was heavily lacking.  With that said, I attended my first Todd Richards practice on Monday morning, and I must say, the difference was clear.

Players were upbeat and into the drills with quite a bit of effort.  When the time was appropriate, they enjoyed ribbing each other for scoring or not scoring, and were giving Mason (the goalie who happened to be on our side of the ice) all kinds of cheering when he made a big save.  Dorsett, Boll, Brassard, and Prospal were the most audible for me, and there were times when I was openly laughing at their antics.  I would never suggest that the team play to the fans during their practices, but I truly enjoyed watching some of the character bleed out.

The drills themselves were very satisfying to watch.  High compete level with specific parts of their game in mind, and I'll share a couple here.  The first drill is designed to have a forward head into the zone with the puck and take a shot on net.  Once that has been accomplished, two skaters take the puck the other way on a two on one, and the job of the original shot taker is to back check hard to try and get back into the play before the shot is taken on the opposite end.  It is a very creative way of getting the back checker a bit tired first, not unlike how he would feel in a game.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A New Addition to Carry the Flag

The long standing goal of Carry the Flag has always been to share a unique perspective with the fans of the Columbus Blue Jackets (or at least those willing to listen with a very open mind!).  That being said, it has been a goal to increase the depth of discussion, and one area that has been poorly covered is the Blue Jackets prospects throughout the course of the playing year.

With that in mind, and with our own eyes falling on the coverage provided via Twitter, we have welcomed @CBJProspects to Carry the Flag.  While his efforts on twitter are greatly beneficial for instant updates and various 'newsy' items at the prospect level, he also offers a weekly update for Columbus prospects, which we feel is of great value to those interested in getting a direct line into the success of the 'farm' without spending hours on google.

Tune in Monday for each update, and please join me in welcoming him into the fold.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

If I Were Scott Howson, I'd Be Asking One Question

Since the termination of Scott Arniel a lot of speculation has gone on regarding the job security of Scott Howson, what trades and re-signing he (or his replacement) should make, and the direction of the team in general moving forward. While I'm here to provide some more speculation and opinion, this post actually spawns from conversations with other Blue Jackets fans following the disappointing loss to the Washington Capitals on New Years Eve. One of the first steps of the Jackets new direction was hiring a coach who fit the direction and style of play that the roster necessitates. I had been leaning towards keeping Arniel for the remainder of the season, mostly because there is not an obvious replacement candidate and teams are unlikely to be willing to part with an assistant coach or AHL coach this time of year. However, this move was not the crux of the new direction. The primary problem I see when analyzing the Blue Jackets roster is players playing above their heads.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Arniel Removed as Blue Jackets Head Coach

After a half season of enormously underwhelming hockey, Blue Jackets General Manager Scott Howson has decided to remove Scott Arniel from the head coach position.  During his time behind the bench this year, Arniel amassed a record of 11-25-5, with the largest salary in franchise history on the books, and a team who many had high expectations for playing substantially below their capacity.  But that is really only how the books cover should read, as I think it's important to consider some variables:

1 - The Jackets have been short handed due to injury or suspension for most of the season.  As it stands, free agent signings Wisniewski (broken foot), Carter (separated shoulder), and Martinek (concussion) are all out due to injury.  Mark Dekanich is finally competing in full games after his injury, but only at the AHL level, leaving me to wonder how long it will take for him to regain form.  Huselius has found himself on the IR once again for multiple injures, and finally, early acquisition Letestu is out with a broken hand.  To Arniel's defense (and more so to Howson's defense), the team has not had a real stretch of games where they could compete as a full roster.

With this in mind, and what I think to be (at least by mid-season standards) a terrible suspension length to Wisniewski, I have to believe that Howson gave Arniel the benefit of the doubt early on due to the mess of players missing time, leaving large gaps with few ideal candidates to fill the holes.  When the team started showing signs of life in front of Sanford I have no doubt it bought him more time, but the huge slide following that momentum must have been the last straw.  Howson was quoted saying he believed Arniel was running out of potential solutions to the teams struggles, and I am personally under the impression that when something like that is admitted to, or blatantly visible (see line juggling galore) it is time to make a change.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Blue Jackets Offense: What Could Have Been

Like most Blue Jackets fans, I was very excited for this season. It finally looked like Scott Howson had assembled a group of offensive weapons that could score with the top teams in the league. Rick Nash finally had his All Star centre in Jeff Carter. The defense was still a little shallow, and no upgrade in net was brought in, but the common logic was that this team had the capability to outscore teams, and Steve Mason and company only had to give the Blue Jackets a chance to win. Nearing the halfway point of the season, this obviously has not been proven true. The offense sits at 27th place in the NHL, the defense also sits at 27th, and Columbus ranks 29th in goal differential. So what gives? Where did all the supposed offense go?

Carter or Nash?

With trade talks consistently atop the Blue Jackets discussion list, it came as no surprise to me yesterday when Nash and Carter became a heated debate among Blue Jackets fans on twitter.  Not necessarily where they would be traded to, but IF a trade were to occur (and it's obviously a big IF with Howson repeatedly suggesting Nash will not move), who would be the better option for Columbus to deal.  There are some obvious pros and cons to dealing both players, but I want to take a bit of time to consider the two being dealt and the overall impact to the team and the fan base.

First and most simplistic of the two, consider their contracts.  Nash is currently signed to an 8 year deal that averages his cap hit at 7.8 million per year. He will become a UFA at the age of 34.  Carter is signed to an 11 year deal that averages his cap hit at 5.25 million per year.  He will become a UFA at the age of 37.  The age difference is just under one year, with Nash born in June of 84, and Carter born in January of 85.  The cap hit difference in the two is 2,527,273 (or for the sake of discussion ease, 2.5 million).

Their current 2011/2012 statistics are the following:

As you can see, Nash has the points lead, but the gap is closed quite a bit in the points per game lead, with only 0.09 separating the two players.  Carter has a 0.05 advantage in goals per game and betters Nash in shooting percentage at a difference of 2.6%.  Nash has a clear edge in assists with 8 more than Carter, but is also -11 worse in plus/minus. To take their current output a bit further, check out this piece by the Coach breaking down their current goal output and whether they are meeting their projected goal totals based on previous years.