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CBJ roster shifts as team gets back on ice

March 2, 2006

Bluejackets to hit the ice with a new face tonight

With the Olympics fading in the rearview mirror, the Bluejackets are on the road again in Denver looking slightly different. There will be Rick Nash and Adam Foote walking slightly heavy despite the lack of a medal around their necks, David Vyborny returning as the bronze-clad captain of the Czech team, and Mike Rupp returning from injured reserve. But the real personnel story of the day in Columbus deals with Rupp’s new fourth-line mate, Cam Severson. Severson, a 28 year old left winger with 33 NHL games under his belt was acquired March 1 from Calgary in a trade that saw defenseman Cale Hulse leave for the defending Western Conference champions.

This trade should tell CBJ fans a few things. First, it has been obvious since Rusty Klesla returned from injury that there was often an odd man out in the blueline rotation. Even with Bryan Berard out for two weeks with his bad back, there are still six quality defenseman currently up with the club. Tonight’s lines will likely be comprised of Foote/Klesla, Hainsey/Richardson, and Westcott/Suchy. When Berard returns in roughly two weeks, that would leave the Bluejackets with eight one-way defenseman contracts. The expendable piece would be Hulse. To fill his spot, Columbus recalled Aaron Johnson from Syracuse this morning. The second thing this says is that management is not ready to move Dan Fritsche, Mark Hartigan, or Stevie Goertzen up to the NHL for good. Fritsche could elevate to a second-line center someday, but in his injury-limited tenure with Columbus he has not played consistently enough to earn the ice-time a young center needs. Hartigan is currently tearing up the AHL (32G, 32A in 42 games) but has lacked that same scoring touch in his stints with the big club. Stevie Goertzen has tried to fill Tyler Wright’s shoes as a pest with an occasional goal, but has succeeded in being only a pest as he still looks for his first NHL goal. While Severson may be moved to Syracuse shortly for one of these players or another (Lindstrom, Motzko, etc.), I would look for this lineup to stick together if the CBJ can continue to play at their pre-Olympic level.

The last thing to look for regarding roster moves in the upcoming weeks is what will happen when Berard returns from the IR? EOB’s trusted sources (himself) say that Luke Richardson will be dangled as trade bait to a playoff bound team. Richardson is still a decent stay-at-home defenseman and could help a spotty defensive team (Vancouver?), but he is a big contract that the Bluejackets would probably like to get rid of while they can still get something for him. This would give playing time for Aaron Johnson and possibly OK Tollefson as well. Youth should be the main route traveled for Columbus. The organization has good young talent, and needs to take the right steps to properly develop these players.

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