2007 Spotlight on: Left Wings

June 13, 2007

In a continuation of the season ending review process, here is my take on the left wings in the organization.

Left Wing

Rick Nash

– Age – 22

-Status – Signed through 2009-10

-Pros – Rick possesses proven scoring ability, and playing under Ken Hitchcock he has developed into a more responsible defensive player as well.  When Nash is on his game, he is one of the top players in the league.

– Cons – Rick has been known to press too hard, and sometimes refuses to let the game come to him.  When he gets in these stretches, he will constantly have you on the edge of your seat.  Unfortunately, you rarely stand up and cheer. 

– If I were GM/Coach – Give Rick the captaincy.  He’s become the complete player we all wanted, and I have to wonder how much the team can rally behind Adam Foote these days.  Rick is the face of the franchise, and the next weapon to add to his arsenal is leadership.  I’d stop spending so much money on guys over the age of 35, and start finding ways to get more players like Nash (in terms of skill, tenacity, etc.) in the organization.  I know it’s not that simple, but that has to be a management goal.

Fredrik Modin

– Age – 32

-Status – Signed through 2009-10

-Pros – A prototype player for Ken Hitchcock’s system.  Fredrik is sound defensively, and works hard in the offensive zone.  Despite performing a little below expectations, Modin has showed that he still has gas left in the tank.

– Cons – It’s hard for me to find something not to like about Freddy Modin.  I guess I’ll have to say I’d like to see his offensive production improved in the upcoming season.  To me, Modin is one of the two Blue Jackets that I simply don’t worry about.  David Vyborny is the other.

– If I were GM/Coach – I pat myself on the back for getting a three-year extension signed with Modin (thanks, Doug!).  Modin should anchor the second line this year, and continue to play in all situations.

Jason Chimera

– Age – 27

-Status – Signed through 2007-08

-Pros – A fleet grinder, Chimera occassionally displays scoring prowess.  You can count on Jason to kill penalties, throw his body around for fun, and put up 30-40 points in a year.

– Cons – Entering the offensive zone with the puck at blazing speed, Chimera is famous for not doing anything with the puck and skating around the perimeter of the boards.  A different “move” would enable the Jackets to convert his speed into more scoring chances.  Also, it sometimes seems like Jason closes his eyes before loosing a booming slapshot.  I’ve never seen anyone miss the net so regularly from 20-30 feet.  And not just by an inch or two, we’re talking multiple feet, here.

– If I were GM/Coach – I try to keep Jason around as long as possible.  I see Jason as a “heavier-hitting-if-slightly-less-skilled” version of Kris Draper.  A guy who can contribue a medium amount of skill with his willingness to bang around and help the team (in ways that don’t show up on the scoresheet) is someone worth rewarding.

Jody Shelley

– Age – 31

-Status – Signed through 2007-08

-Pros – Jody is a hard worker, a fan favorite, and is big.  Oh, and he throws a nice haymaker.

– Cons – A hard-working guy who can’t skate well, stickhandle, or score is still a guy who can’t skate, stickhandle, or score.

– If I were GM/Coach – I let Jody play out this final season of his contract, and do not re-sign him.  I said this a year ago, and Doug MacLean had him signed to a two-year extension shortly thereafter.  Please, Mr. GM-to-be-named, do not sign Jody Shelley to another extension.  I love the guy as much as the next fan, but we don’t need him.  Others who can contribute more to the team can throw fists around as well.  Thanks.

Alexandre Picard

– Age – 21

-Status – Restricted Free Agent

-Pros – This guy displays no fear (as long as he doesn’t have the puck).  I’m stretching right now to list this as a pro.

– Cons – Picard often looks like he’s not quite sure what to do offensively.  Defensively, he can skate fourth-line duty, I think, but on the “fun” side of the ice he is lost.  He seems to do decently in Syracuse (26-33-59 in 93 games played), but the NHL game still is above Alexandre’s head.  I have no idea if it’s a case (solely) of pushing him too fast to where he is, or if he is one of those guys who simply plateau’s at the AHL level, but he’s not contributing all that much right now.

– If I were GM/Coach – If I can re-sign him at a discount from his current $984,000 salary, I talk to Alexandre to set the expectation that unless there is a significant injury problem in Columbus that I will expect him to put a full season in at Syracuse.  Go from being a half-point a game guy in the AHL, to being (hopefully) a full-point per game guy, and then we’ll talk about putting you on the third or fourth line in Columbus.  If he’s going to demand any significant raise, I don’t know how you hold onto a property like this (yes, it’s a business, he’s a property).  He’s a guy you’d be afraid to let go too soon, because he does have a lot of room to grow.  But it’s difficult to justify paying $1,000,000 a year for a half of a point per.

Position overview

It’s far from being an embarrassment of riches, but with the presence of a guy like Rick Nash who is on the cusp of All-NHL status, a very solid second-liner in Fredrik Modin, and a serviceable grinder in Jason Chimera the left wingers may be the deepest position on the big club.  With Shelley and Picard, you’ve got one guy who’s very likely on the downslope of his career and one who desperately needs to experience an upslope.  I don’t see this group changing all that much, if at all, this year.  Unless something falls into the new GM’s lap, the left wingers are set.

In the system

TSN.ca notes the following players as left wings in the Blue Jacket organization: Philippe Dupuis, Curtis Glencross, and Jaroslav Balastik.  I’ve not seen Dupuis play (he had 11-11-22 in 51 games at Syracuse last season); Glencross, who came to Columbus with Zenon Konopka from Anaheim for Mark Hartigan and Joe Motzko, has showed he can score in the AHL (25-26-51 in 60 games last season) but has not done much in the NHL; and Jaroslav Balastik was assigned to HV71 of the Swedish Elite League after 8 games this past season so I doubt we’ll see him donning the CBJ crest anytime soon (unless they have an “old-timers” shoot-out competition).



  1. I’ve seen Picard play at all three levels, QMJL, AHL and NHL. The player you saw in junior has not progressed very much into the pros. For such a productive and useful junior player has often struggled at the NHL level. I think it is mostly confidence and a questionalbe skating style and you must add all of the injuries which in the end cramp his progress.

    The Jackets had to overpay because of his draft position not his ability. With his knee surgery that was caused by a brutal hip check this will further hamper his future. Is Picard a bust for the NHL? Yes and no. One point in 40 NHL games is laughable but pathetic (pitiable) at the same time. Picard should have never been drafted so high, in fact I have often surmised that Columbus picked the wrong Picard. The other Picard who plays defence for the Phillie Flyers is far more productive as a defenceman.

    Lindstrom and Glencross are much better depth players but will occasionally get a chance because that’s the way things work in the NHL. If Picard were drafted say in the third round instead of 8th overall then likely Lindstrom who has far more skill would be the fourth left winger with a higher upside. Glencross has benefited from the Anaheim trade and is a very productive and useful winger in the system.

  2. As much as I like to think that Picard is entertaining he really does need to start progressing…

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