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Spotlight on: Right Wings

May 18, 2006

In a continuation of the season-ending process, we will resume examining the various position players on the Blue Jackets. We’ll give our opinions on the pros and cons, a little bit of salary info (if we can find it) and any other tidbits we find interesting. Today, the right wingers get put under the microscope.Right WingsDavid Vyborny
– Age – 31
– Status – Signed through 2008
– Pros – A consistent 20-goal scorer with great hands and good ice vision. David is a great two-way player (the only one the CBJ had until Fedorov showed up). Perhaps the most underrated talent on the squad.
– Cons – In the past, Vyborny has been hesitant to shoot the puck. I think the biggest downside (as a Columbus fan) is that David will likely be gone in two years when his contract expires. He has expressed his desire to raise his children in the Czech culture, which I think is extremely admirable. I would still be sad to see him go.
– If I were GM/Coach – Vyborny is the most steady forward you have on your team. He can play in all game situations, and has terrific on-ice chemistry with budding superstar Rick Nash. Enjoy the years that #9 is willing to give.

Jaroslav Balastik
– Age – 26
– Status – Restricted Free Agent
– Pros – Balastik fits the textbook definition of a sniper. He works to find the open ice in the offensive zone and has a quick shot that can easily find the netting. In the new NHL, Balastik made a name for himself as a top shoot-out artist (6 for 9 on the season, including the game winner in Detroit on March 25).
– Cons – Not known for being a great skater or passer, Balastik is leaning towards being one-dimensional. Has to work very hard to maintain proper defensive positioning to make up for his lack of superior skating ability.
– If I were GM/Coach – Sign Jaroslav to a one or two year contract, and see what he can do as he continues to learn the new NHL. He has the potential to put up 30-40 goals a season, but first must get past the mark of 12 he set this season.

Trevor Letowski
– Age – 29
– Status – Unrestricted free agent
– Pros – A speedy winger on the smaller size, Letowski is a tireless defender who fills in ably on the penalty kill.
– Cons – His production has never been stellar in his NHL career, and his size will relegate him to third or fourth line play for his career.
– If I were GM/Coach – I would try to sign Letowski to a one year deal and keep him on a line with Chimera and Malhotra. These three could develop into one of the premier checking lines in the NHL. If Letowski’s production or value slips further, he could be trade bait at the deadline for someone looking for checking depth, or relased in the offseason.

Steven Goertzen
– Age – 21
– Status – Still in his rookie contract.
– Pros – Goertzen is a rough and tumble player who gives everything he has every game.
– Cons – Steven does not have big-time NHL offensive skills, so he will not be a scoring line winger (though his assets do fit him well as a checking forward).
– If I were GM/Coach – If Goertzen can chip in 4-8 goals per year while developing the ability to play defense and make life tough for the opposition, he could be worth maintaining. Every team needs fourth line wingers, why not give him a year in Jody Shelley’s spot?

In a flash
I haven’t seen enough of any right wingers in Syracuse to have any thoughts. Columbus has very few true right wingers I played left wing in an adult hockey league for two years, but I don’t know how important is this. Are wingers generally interchangeable? I know I never played right wing if I could avoid it, as I always seemed to drift to the “wrong” side of the ice. I know the pros are better than me at maintaining positional discipline, but I don’t know if a kid grows up to be a left or right winger.

Up next, the defense.

Thanks for reading.

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