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Blue Jackets at the trade deadline: The EOB take

February 15, 2007

One of the popular themes being bandied about the hockey blogosphere at the moment is the impending trade deadline and the players on the block. Generally, teams are broken down into two categories: Buyers (teams in or fighting for the playoffs) and Sellers (teams out of the playoffs).

The Columbus Blue Jackets, my friends, are sellers.

Many names have been tossed out there, and everyone has an opinion on these things. So I figured I’d do my part and go through the roster and give my thoughts on the possibility of each player being moved by February 27th. I’ll use a five step scale: High, Moderate, Low, Very Low, and Nil. Here goes nothing…

Forwards

  • Sergei Fedorov: He’s supremely overpriced and signed through next year. EOB likelihood of being moved: very low.
  • Rick Nash: Future of the franchise, signed for the next three. EOB likelihood of being moved: nil.
  • Anson Carter: A UFA at season’s end, a logical choice to leave town. EOB likelihood of being moved: high.
  • Fredrik Modin: Another UFA after the season, but contract extension talks are currently taking place with Modin’s agent and Columbus. EOB likelihood of being moved: moderate. I think CGMDM will overpay for Modin and get him here for two more years.
  • David Vyborny: Probably the most reliable forward on the roster at this time. With one year left on his contract, David has expressed his wish to head back to his home country to raise his children as they enter school (presumably after next season, which he’s hinted would be his last in the NHL). EOB likelihood of being moved: very low.
  • Nikolai Zherdev: Cliche alert!! An enigmatic skill forward who has a tremendous upside despite grossly underperforming this season. Signed a 3-year $7.5 million deal before this season. EOB likelihood of being moved: low. I think he’s priced too high for teams at this point in his contract.
  • Manny Malhotra: Decent third-line forward who can play hard minutes on the PK as well. Current season is not going as well as planned for him (statistically). EOB likelihood of being moved: very low.
  • Gilbert Brule: Despite not putting up any numbers you’d want to write home to Mom about, Brule remains a building block for the immediate future of this team. I also don’t think he would add anything tangible to a playoff bound team at this point in his career. EOB likelihood of being moved: nil.
  • Alexander Svitov: A former 3rd overall pick by Tampa Bay, Columbus fans are still waiting for this hulk of a forward to turn into the scoring threat we were promised. Currently playing on the second-line (most nights), Svitov would probably be a third or fourth line center on most top-tier teams. EOB likelihood of being moved: low.
  • Jason Chimera: Speedy checking line winger with one year left. I don’t see his value to other teams at this point. EOB likelihood of being moved: very low.
  • Jody Shelley: Enforcer with one year left on his contract. You don’t fight in the playoffs. EOB likelihood of being moved: nil. (Although if I’m CGMDM and somebody offers me a ream of paper and ink toner for Shelley, I sign the deal.)
  • Dan Fritsche: Energetic center who consistently gives 100%, and seems to have been one of few players to fully buy-in to (or maybe I should say routinely apply) coach Ken Hitchcock’s system. EOB likelihood of being moved: nil.

Defense

  • Adam Foote: Aging defensive defenseman who has one more year left on an overpaying contract. Takes bad penalties, lacks hustle, and has repeated trouble with the lead pass out of the zone. EOB likelihood of being moved: very low, but a guy can dream.
  • Bryan Berard: The third (pending) UFA on the Jackets roster, Berard has recently returned from back surgery that kept him out of the entire season until last week. There are a few teams out there looking for a puck moving defenseman, and as long as they don’t mind a defenseman who can’t actually play defense Berard could be a good fit if he stays healthy. EOB likelihood of being moved: high. Can’t happen soon enough.
  • Rostislav Klesla: Young blueliner finally filling out his frame, and promise. Rusty is developing into a big checker and responsible defender in his own zone who can make a play on offense if needed. I saw his name mentioned over at Japers’ Rink by one of the commenters, presumably as someone they’d like to see heading their way. I don’t blame them (I’m sure many teams would like that), but I really doubt if Doug MacLean is that dumb to trade away the best defenseman on the team (I said it, I believe it). EOB likelihood of being moved: nil.
  • Anders Eriksson: One of the few plus players on the team at +3, Eriksson is quietly effective on the blueline. I would think he would be a good (and relatively cheap at $600,000) pickup for a team that wanted a reliable defenseman for the stretch run and playoffs, but I haven’t heard his name mentioned. With Berard likely on the way out (*fingers crossed*), I think MacLean keeps Anders in the mix to maintain six defensemen on the big squad. EOB likelihood of being moved: low.
  • Ole-Kristian Tollefsen: A big defender who often tries (and misses) the big hit, but even so remains a plus player at +3. Not a point producer, OK is a defensive specialist who is okay mixing it up. EOB likelihood of being moved: very low.
  • Ron Hainsey: I know some folks (Herringbone over at Death Cab for Woody) think Ron Hainsey is Satan in a hockey uniform (okay, maybe I’m dressing that up a little bit), but I like Ron’s offensive abilities. He still needs a lot of work, but I like this project. EOB likelihood of being moved: very low.
  • Duvie Westcott: Out indefinitely with concussion related symptoms. Duvie has had health issues throughout his career, and even though I think he could easily be a top four talent if consistently healthy we’re not likely to see him progress if he can’t get back on the ice (I’m being nice, here.) EOB likelihood of being moved: nil.
  • Aaron Johnson: Another of the young defensive corps in Columbus, Aaron still has yet to look confident with the puck on a consistent basis. I’ve dubbed Johnson the lost puppy of the team, because he never looks like he knows quite what to do with the puck. Moments of brilliance are surrounded by stretches of frustrating ineffectiveness. EOB likelihood of being moved: nil.

Goaltending

  • Pascal Leclaire: Asked to be the #1 with Marc Denis’ departure, Leclaire has alternately looked superhuman and pedestrian. It’s worth remembering that he’s 24 years old. EOB likelihood of being moved: nil.
  • Fredrik Norrena: Just signed a two year extension last week. Capable backup, and can be a starter in a pinch. Has not proven the ability to play more than two games in a row since early December. EOB likelihood of being moved: nil.

So there you have it. My opinions on who will or won’t be moved, and maybe a little about why. What do you think? Leave a comment. Tell me I’m right, tell me I’m wrong, tell me something.

Thanks for stopping by the End of the Bench. Come back soon.

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