Archive for the ‘Derick Brassard’ Category

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OK, I’ve calmed down.

July 4, 2008

I’ve caught my breath and had time to think about the Jacket roster moves over the past few days.  It’s not easy to take them in single servings, not knowing what else is going on or negotiated without all the servings on the dinner plate.  And as I write this, the team is working on other trades, so things could change even more.

First off, the team replaced David Vyborny’s numbers with Raffi Torres.  Torres is a tougher player who will certainly hit harder than Vyborny and will play adequate defense.

With the signing of Kristian Huselius, the team has picked up the numbers that Zherdev had and a little more.  Huselius won’t make me forget Nick and I admit that I think Z will get better, but he won’t have the mental lapses like Zherdev did, and will pass the puck a bit sooner and shoot quicker.

RJ Umberger will get his 20 goals and maybe (negative comment coming) get Jason Chimera to improve his game.  If Fredrik Modin can play a full season and get his 25 goals, things look bright.

On defense, the team certainly improved.  The team is now bigger, even if Kris Russell stays on the roster.  Ron Hainsey is gone, but it would have been interesting to see what kind of numbers he would have put up on this new 2008 team.  Tyutin is now the guy, unless Klesla can find more goals or someone like Clay Wilson can fill that role.  The team definitely is stronger at the blue line.  Can they score a few more goals?

Derick Brassard and Jakub Voracek have replaced Gilbert Brule and Dan Fritsche, even if they don’t make the team in October.   I liked Brule, but he needed a change of address and he too, will probably have better numbers in Edmonton.

Pascal Leclaire has to put up the same numbers and Fredrik Norrena has to improve his game.  Two or three more wins from Freddy would be great.

The team looks better now, but what about the other factors?  If the team can play as well as or better than last season, it needs to also play even against Nashville and win half those games.  It needs to continue to play well against Detroit.  It needs to win against Chicago and St. Louis and stay even with them in the standings.  Five more wins will go a long way, in the standings and at the bank.

The team is now different, but they are not out of the MacLean hole yet. They are on their way to fixing that with a few more roster subtractions and scouting changes. It will finally be Scott Howson’s team at that point, resembling a modern NHL franchise instead of a PEI social club.  That will be a nice way to show John McConnell our thanks and that we won’t forget him.

-Truth Serum

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Your 2008-2009 Columbus Blue Jackets

April 3, 2008

With the Blue Jacket season about to end, I start to think about next year. I did this a lot growing up a Red Wing fan. The Detroit team that I cheered on 25 years ago was pathetic, finding all sorts of ways to lose games, hiring bad coaches, playing to half-empty arenas, and working desperately to hold the fan base. Even after Mike Ilitch bought the team and hired Jim Devellano, there were some false starts that kept the team from becoming the juggernaut that it is today. But things worked out and you know the rest.

So when I think about next year, I examine this year’s roster and wonder who will be back. I hear all kinds of grumbling from disenchanted fans, but I haven’t heard much from the organization itself. I never heard Ken Hitchcock complain about the loss of Adam Foote or Sergei Fedorov. That tells me that Hitch is a coach who will work with what he has and not bug his GM to go out and get somebody else. Not everyone liked Hitch in Dallas, but he never played mind games with his players in the media. I can’t speak for what went on in private, but unlike Doug MacLean, he does not publicly ream his players.

It has been said frequently that we need a good center. Really? Who doesn’t need a good center? A Hitchcock team plays defense first, preferring to frustrate the opposition into turning over the puck. Detroit plays puck possession, believing that if you own the puck, the other team can’t score. It is easy do this when you have Nick Lidstrom playing defense for you. If a Detroit opponent gets the puck, they have to get by Lidstrom and the other capable defensemen before they can even get an offensive chance.

So with Columbus needing a certain type of center, can they either grow their own or obtain one? The first option is certainly the most cost-efficient, but who fits that description? A case can be made for Derick Brassard and Jakub Voracek to become that type of center, but I don’t see a member of the current roster fitting that description. Michael Peca and David Vyborny were that style of player, but they are finishing their careers. So signing a free agent or trading for one will have to be considered. So which fast, strong, free agent defensive centerman will want to play in Columbus? Before you give me an answer, think about this: All NHLer’s want to win and play for the Cup, so what will attract them to Columbus? If they can get the same money from Vancouver, Chicago, the Islanders, Toronto, or one of the other second tier clubs, why would they come here? For the streetcar system? There is only one thing to offer them, a bigger paycheck. I don’t question Mr. McConnell’s willingness to pay a premium, but I do wonder how much of a premium he is willing to pay, even with Howson and Hitchcock running things. Fedorov will look like a bargain compared to what the available talent will command.

There are other things that I am thinking about for next year and I will get into them in the near future. Obviously, the team needs to re-evaluate and take action with the defense. Who will be in goal next year, the same pair or do we roll the dice? Will there be any turnover in the coaching department? The team only offers one-year coaching contracts that all expire on July 1. Meanwhile, all of the other teams in the Western Conference are going to make some changes that directly affect Columbus. You know Chicago will be better next season and there is always Detroit. Nashville is stabilized and St. Louis is right behind us.

-Truth Serum

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Yawn… how ’bout a few meaningless lists?

January 19, 2008

So, is winter hibernation over yet? 

Heh, yeah, I’ve been quiet for a while.  You don’t want excuses, but here are a few reasons I haven’t written since last year:

  • Work finally got smart and blocked WordPress from our servers.
  • That little California trip where there was no TV.  This was good for my sleep schedule, but bad for my hockey fix.
  • I had an extended vacation from work, which should have meant more EOB time, but it ended up meaning more hours sitting around on the couch.
  • I simply got lazy.

Whatever has happened to date, I’m pleased to see that Truth Serum has kept things going with a series of good posts.

So we’re nearing the end of January, and the Blue Jackets are still very much in the playoff picture.  A lot of the reason the team is still up there has to be the current 4-game winning streak.  After getting waxed in St. Louis 6-1, the team has reeled off three home wins and a rare road victory.  The team is in the middle of a five-game road trip, and the excursion outside Nationwide will give a good picture of what we can look forward to for the rest of the season: hope, or a long slow slide out of it. 

Why do I say this?  Well, for all the things this team “is”, one thing it’s not is a good road team.  15 of their next 21 games are away from the friendly confines.  Their 7-12-2 record on the road is not going to get them to the playoffs, and they will need more efforts like they produced against Phoenix if they expect to still be smelling so sweet in March.

(Yeah, you missed me, didn’t you?)

What have I “missed”?  How about personnel moves?

  • Andrew Murray gets called up from Syracuse and reportedly looks good (I haven’t really seen him play) before suffering from a concussion. 
  • Gilbert Brule gets sent down to Syracuse to find himself.  Let’s hope the kid does well, gains confidence, and is able to return when he’s ready.  All accounts are that the guy is full of talent, but it cannot be said that we’ve seen it in Columbus.
  • Derick Brassard is currently playing in his fifth NHL game, having been called up from Syracuse a few games after making his return from sitting out over a month with a facial injury.
  • Duvie Westcott is sent down to Syracuse (pending no waiver claim), when Ole-Kristian Tollefsen made an unexpected comeback (at least, if you’ve been reading the Dispatch or Puck-rakers).  Marc Methot took Tollefsen’s place, and it appears the OKT’s return may be the end of Westcott in Columbus.  Even Ron Hainsey’s (hopefully minor) back injury couldn’t save Duvie.  I’m sure Mrs. EOB will be crushed.  I’ll break it to her gently.

And lastly, here are a few things I’ll remember about the last three or so weeks since we’ve talked:

  • I hate to complalin because it’s one of my favorite sports, but there are too many bowl games.  I simply lack the desire to watch BGSU get annihilated by Tulsa, or Purdue outlast Central Michigan.  Not fun.
  • While we’re at it, the BCS needs a reform.  No, the Buckeyes probably shouldn’t have been in the title game if we were to pick the two best teams at the time, but neither should LSU have been there.  I would have picked USC and Georgia.
  • Okay, one last college football note.  Kudos to Kansas for sticking up to the big boys when nobody (including myself) gave them a chance.
  • OSU basketball is being shown mostly on the Big Ten network, and I don’t care.  Moving on…
  • Nikolai Zherdev is a slick, sick SOB.  Whatever Scott Howson and Ken Hitchcock said to him and his agent over the summer, they should bottle that stuff and administer it regularly for as long as #13 is a member of the organization.  Zherdev is, as coach Hitchcock recently opined, one of the top players in the league.  He had the opportunity for a hat-trick before the end of 2007, and passed off to a teammate for the empty netter.  Some in the public panned the pass, saying that Nationwide needs a hat-trick.  I applauded Z for his unselfish play (yes, I physically applauded in my living room, you should expect this from me) and think that team play (especially in a win) is more important than a hat-trick.  He’s doing what’s necessary to help his team win: passing, scoring (that end-to-ender a week or two ago), and defending (the blocked shot last week in the final minute).
  • Rick Nash.  Earlier this year he had the between the legs madness, and two nights ago he pulled the dipsy-dangle-dip-deke-kick-score move to win the game that caused me to involuntarily yell, scaring my cat and waking my wife.  He’s produced two of the slickest goals in the NHL this year, and I’m sure he’s enjoying the attention that Zherdev is drawing as it takes a bit off of him.
  • The NHL Winter Classic.  This was a fun game to watch, as much for the falling snow and slow ice as the roar of the 70,000+ crowd and the child-like joy on so many of the player’s faces.  I wouldn’t mind seeing more of these.
  • A win streak.  Not just two games, it currently stands at four.  These are fun, and let you enjoy being a fan.  I really like it when the non-hockey fans come in to the office in the morning and feel the need to talk to me about how the team is doing.  You non-believers are welcome on the wagon whenever you please.

I’ll try to be a little more “present” as the days wear on.  I hope we all have something good to talk about.

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

– Drew

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Post Calgary

December 20, 2007

I was busier than I planned yesterday and couldn’t get this post finished. But I’m back at it today and Drew has given me some coupons for a McDonald’s breakfast treat and the local restaurant happens to have free WiFi, so here goes.

I made a remark about officiating and to expand on that: When I saw Dave Jackson skate out on the ice Tuesday night for the Calgary game, my first thought was that, OK, we won’t see many calls tonight. Jackson is a senior official who worked some of the big games in the recent past. Cup Finals, All Star games, Olympics, he has done them all, but he is no longer a rising “star” among NHL officials and after 18 years as an official, he is established and set in his ways. His partner, Chris Rooney has about half of Jackson’s experience and would be the one to make the calls.

And they made a lot of calls and although I did not keep good records that night, it looked to me like Rooney made the majority of calls. Believe it or not, the calls were even, but the Jackets took calls at the wrong time. The call against Adam Foote for cross-checking only 25 seconds into Derek MacKenzie’s penalty was an example of this. I watched Foote raise his arms and push them as far as he could into the back of Dion Phaneuf with Chris Rooney standing about 10 feet away. Did Foote think that he was going to get away with that? If they had a video camera present, they could have shot this sequence for instructional purposes to show what cross-checking is. Foote was hosed because to make things worse, Phaneuf was not standing just outside the Blue Jacket goal crease but was further out and away from the “privileged area” that goaltenders have. As bad as this was, it did establish how the game was going to be called.

Except that later on in the game, Zherdev was clearly tripped on an offensive rush, but no call. Jason Chimera was hit in the face with a stick and probably got stitched up after the game, but no call. On the Glencross goal, Kris Russell was hauled down as he made the pass, but no call was made. So why did the officiating crew decide to call things differently after the Foote penalty? I have no idea, but want to hear what that crew was thinking.

The reason I mention the call against Foote is not to berate Adam for his poor decision, because Foote learned from that and did not commit another penalty the rest of the game. I mention it because it showed that at least ONE player on the Blue Jackets figured the officials out and then adjusted. What was Rick Nash’s problem? He earned a Slaymaker award with three costly penalties on the night when the team badly needed him to do something offensively.

People have remarked that the team has recently resembled a Gerard Gallant-coached edition, with the undisciplined play and lack of planning that marked his teams. I will agree that there are some similarities and that would be the roster, which is almost the same one that Gallant had to work with. Maybe we should re-sign Anson Carter to fill in for some of the injured players we have and the similarity would be complete.

I understand that the team is not very deep and not matching up to Calgary and others very well. If you take this game and the Boston loss together, it showed that the NHL has figured out that the way to beat the Jackets is to keep them away from the crease area and not allow them to follow-up on their shots. For both games, the Blue Jackets took more shots than their opponent, but have one goal to show for it. Instead of calling up Derick Brassard to help with the scoring issues, maybe they should consider Tommy Sestito and his size. A lot of you are saying that Ken Hitchcock needs to send a message to the players, but he did that by benching the 6’3″ Kris Beech in the third period. The team has to compete better for offensive opportunities in the crease area and you do that by establishing position and taking the punishment that comes with it. Beech and the other forward have to play this way.

The team is competing better this year, but as the season goes along, I see a few guys who won’t go into no man’s land to get some chances. Calling guys up from Syracuse is not going to help because those guys aren’t ready yet. We’ve tried Alexandre Picard many times and he still is not ready. If you think Marc Methot is ready, do you honestly think he will put up better numbers than Kris Russell?

-Truth Serum

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Dose of Reality #74

October 2, 2007

The Jackets put Michael Peca, Fredrik Modin, and Adam Foote on the IR today in order to get the roster down to 23. Since none of the trio have suited up for any of the pre-season games, the move served to confirm what most of us have suspected. There were two other roster moves today: Sheldon Brookbank was placed on waivers and quickly picked up by the New Jersey Devils. Kris Beech is also on waivers.

If Adam Foote is not ready to play, the loss of Brookbank will hurt the team. Foote has not been able to have a complete Blue Jacket camp in a few years, but his recovery this year is taking longer than usual. With Brookbank gone, the call-up is most likely Marc Methot. That is not too much wiggle room for the team if Foote can’t answer the bell.

I never thought Kris Beech would stay with the team and when Peca was signed, the end was near for him. Making the odds even tougher for Beech, Jared Boll surprised the team with his strong showing and made the varsity. I also think that Derick Brassard will be back in Columbus this season. So Beech would have to beat out these three players to stay here in Columbus on the forth line.

We await the opener on Friday, but the real benchmark will be around the U.S. Thanksgiving. If the team is around .500, we can all sing the praises of Ken Hitchcock and Scott Howson. Heck, we can even think of the 2009 playoffs in a more substantial manner. This season will be a sober one, a time for the fans to quietly look for signs of progress, for the players to develop confidence in the Hitchcock plan, and for Scott Howson to start targeting the candidates to play here in the next few years. It appears to me that Jakub Voracek will be with us next season. Adam Pineault, Andrew Murray, Trevor Hendrix, and Tommy Sestito may join him.

-Truth Serum

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Draftees: Where did they come from?

June 29, 2007

Patrick’s comment yesterday on the Aaron Johnson post regarding the QMJHL interested me.  He mentioned that someone in the front office seems to really like players from the Q, but they tend not to pan out.  Patrick also noted that the Q is regarded as the weakest of the three Canadian junior leagues.  While the latter statement is not easily quantifiable by me, the first is pretty easy to view.

What I can say regarding the competitiveness of the three leagues is this: since the creation of the QMJHL (the youngest of the three) in 1969, here is the breakdown of Memorial Cup champions by league.

  • Western Hockey League: 17
  • Ontario Hockey League: 14
  • Quebec Major Junior Hockey League: 8

So on a very base level of judging competitiveness, Patrick is correct that the Q is the lesser of the three leagues.  (Stat freaks and fans of the Q, please note that this is a broad statement made for the purposes of moving on to the next point and not intended to indict the Q in any way.  Q fans especially may want to keep reading.)  Moving on…

In the last seven years (junior league information was not readily available on NHL.com for draftees in 2000 and I’m lazy to take the five minutes it would require to complete the results), the Columbus Blue Jackets have drafted 71 players.  Here is a breakdown of the top five leagues/countries and the average draft position of a player selected by the CBJ from that league.

  1. Ontario Hockey League: 13 players, average pick of 113
  2. Quebec Major Junior Hockey League: 11 players, average pick of 102
  3. Western Hockey League: 9 players, average pick of 129
  4. Russia: 7 players, average pick of 131
  5. Various high school leagues: 6 players, average pick of 155

This does give me a little insight.  Columbus drafts players from the Q at a higher average position than any other group.  But this also includes a slew of players who very likely were not expected to make the NHL (I’m just rambling so I sound smart, you can quit reading at any time), so I decided to only include picks in the first three rounds (1-90) and reevaluate.  I know that with the limited history of the Blue Jackets drafts this will not be a great statistical sample, but I don’t care.  The results?

  1. Ontario Hockey League: 7 players, average pick of 50
  2. Quebec Major Junior Hockey League: 5 players, average pick of 23
  3. Western Hockey League: 3 players, average pick of 42

The OHL had the most players selected in the first three rounds (led by Rick Nash at #1 overall in 2002), but the Q led in the more important area.  Players selected from the Q in the first three rounds have an average draft position of 23.  I have to say, this shocked me.  If you take Aaron Johnson out of the equation (he barely squeaked into the top 90 at #85 in 2001), the average draft position for QMJHL players is an astonishing 7.25!

With such a small data set, I’m required (by law!) to make very broad brush strokes to paint my picture.  So what’s the problem that Patrick’s indicating with the Jackets using so many high draft picks on Q players?  It probably has to do with the fact that none of them are stars, and only one (Pascal Leclaire) has shown that he might be a regular NHL’er. 

Immediate disclaimer: In the 2006 Entry Draft, the Jackets selected Derick Brassard (at #6) from the Q and in 2007 they selected Jakub Voracek (at #7) from the Q.  Both of these players are too young to pass judgement.

Still, that leaves Alexandre Picard (#8 in 2004), Pascal Leclaire (#8 in 2001), and Aaron Johnson (#85 in 2001) as Q alumni who have played with the big club.  Leclaire shows flashes of extreme promise, but has been unable to stay healthy long enough to know for sure.  Picard has done well in the AHL, but has struggled mightily at the NHL level.  And finally there is Johnson, who never quite found a permanent spot on the club and was not extended a qualifying offer.  He will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Many would argue rightfully that it takes at least five years to properly evaluate a draft.  I don’t disagree, I just dont have that much data to work with.  So some of you who have gotten this far may be asking yourself, “what the hell is Drew’s point?”

I’m glad you asked.  One line in particular in Patrick’s comment sparked this whole mini-research project for me, and it was probably the line that contributed the least to his point (correct me if I’m wrong, Patrick).  It was:

Someone in the organization likes this league above the others.  It worked for Sidney Crosby and not so well for Alex Picard.

I understand his point, but I wanted to make a rebuttal.  There are plenty of good NHL players who have come from the Q.  There have been eight players elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame, including Mario Lemieux, Ray Bourque, and Patrick Roy.  Plenty of current NHL’ers played junior hockey in the Q, including Sidney Crosby, Brad Richards, Vincent Lecavalier, Manny Fernandez, Ales Hemsky, Daniel Briere, and Roberto Luongo.

Sure, the Blue Jackets haven’t exactly mined the best there is out of the Q.  But they really haven’t cherry picked any of the other leagues, either.

So what did you learn from this post?  Probably to avoid any posts I make that started out with, “So and so said something the other day that made me think…”

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

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Crossing I’s: Looking back and forward at once

June 28, 2006

At the 2006 Entry Draft in Vancouver this past weekend, the latest class of potential NHL stars was selected by 30 franchises with the common goal of winning the Stanley Cup. For most of those chosen, we won’t know for years if the selections were good or not. And if you’re like me, you don’t have the time or opportunity to follow junior hockey closely so you’ve maybe heard of two or three guys who were drafted. This is not the place to come for in-depth analysis of the draft.

The Blue Jackets selected Derick Brassard with the sixth overall pick. He is reported to be a playmaking center in the Joe Sakic mold (Doug MacLean’s words, not mine). With Gilbert Brule likely to center the top line of Rick Nash and David Vyborny and Sergei Fedorov centering Nik Zherdev and a winger-to-be-named-later, I’d be surprised to see Brassard wearing the CBJ crest this fall. If he can play, by all means put him up with the team. But at this time, it looks like the center position is fairly full up with the big club (Brule, Fedorov, Manny Malhotra, and maybe Alexander Svitov?). A kid with this kind of potential needs to be playing good minutes on a consistent basis to continue to develop, and it seems to me that these could be earned on one of the top lines in Syracuse (or juniors for another year as MacLean has done with Klesla, Fritsche, and Brule in the past). I think it’s more likely that he’ll be up next year or two and fill Fedorov’s role when his contract expires. But again, I’m not the GM and I’m pretty sure that MacLean doesn’t visit the End of the Bench.

Or does he?

Not that it took a lot of brains or insider access to make the call but it should be noted that I suggested trading Denis in my season ending review of the goaltenders. And now, it’s been reported in the Dispatch (that I’ve seen) that Denis is (possibly) on the block. MacLean is supposedly having discussions with the Tampa Bay Lightning to ship Denis south for Fredrik Modin. This would be a winger that the Blue Jackets need (not to mention a blistering shot).

The concern (for me and apparently Doug as well) at this point is that Pascal Leclaire has not weathered an entire season as the #1, and while there are no durability concerns he simply hasn’t proven himself over 55-60 games. For this reason, I don’t see Denis going anywhere just yet unless a #2 goaltender is included in the return package. If MacLean can wait until February to make an assessment on Leclaire, he can likely still move Denis before the trade deadline.

My hope is that if/when this becomes the case that the Blue Jackets do not chase after an aging star that will only help the team for the short-term (if at all). Denis certainly will not fetch the return that Roberto Luongo or some others may, but it is important to make sure that fair deals are sought. We should not be looking to add older players and asking them to fill roles that are above their ability.

Looking ahead

The picture for next year is becoming clearer as time passes. It’s evident that Jan Hrdina, Trevor Letowski, and Radoslav Suchy will be allowed to seek employment from other teams. Of the three, I had hoped that the team would try to retain the services of Letowski but MacLean reports that he is asking for too large of a raise. Losing Hrdina will open a roster spot for Gilbert Brule. Suchy’s roster spot should be ably filled by one of the many young defensemen in the organization. The following is EOB’s projected lineup for opening night.

Forward 1: Nash, Brule, Vyborny
Forward 2: Zherdev, Fedorov, newly acquired winger
Forward 3: Chimera, Malhotra, Fritsche
Forward 4: Shelley, Svitov, Balastik
Defense 1: Foote, Klesla
Defense 2: Berard, Westcott
Defense 3: Hainsey, Johnson
Goaltender: Leclaire, Denis

I would feel fairly comfortable with these forward lines. Line 1 has the proven scoring ability of Nash and Vyborny, and the grit of Nash and Brule.

Line 2 has the flash of Zherdev and the reliability of Fedorov. The open wing spot could be filled by many types of player. A power forward type would be very effective here (Shanahan on a one or two year contract is me dreaming, but that’s what I do) to take the heat off of Zherdev. And Shanny has proven he can play with creative Russians in Detroit (I’ll wake up soon enough).

The third line is a checking line that has a nice combination of size, speed, and sound defensive ability. I see this as the energy line, as each of these guys is looking to go out and pound the other team and can use the physical play to create turnovers and scoring opportunities.

Looking at my projected fourth line, it looks a little like Saturday afternoon lunch. It’s the leftover hodgepodge. Shelley is a big winger who can hit and not much else, Svitov is a mostly unproven talent who has shown flashes of creativity, and Balastik is a shootout and power-play sniper who is not quick on the ice. This line will have to be carefully matched up against the opposition, as it is overly weighted towards the offensive side of the ice (and that’s not saying a whole lot right now). Mark Hartigan could crack this line as well.

I picked the defensive pairings based on 1) having an offensive D-man with a stay-at-home “responsible” player, and 2) mixing the left and right handed shots.

Foote and Klesla fit this mold, and if Klesla continues his growth this will definitely be the hardest hitting pairing on the blueline for the Jackets.

Berard and Westcott will provide a little more offense than the top pairing, but still have the ability (with Duvie in the mix) to clear the crease.

Hainsey and Johnson will be the pairing that could either be the sleeper surprise (Hainsey looks to be the first good CBJ offensive blueliner and Johnson loves to hit), or the weakest link. There may be a newly acquired defenseman who will step in here, or possibly Ole-Kristian Tollefson from Syracuse.

As noted above, I really don’t see the Jackets getting rid of Marc Denis or letting him remain the #1 netminder. Pascal Leclaire will be the goaltender that we ride for the next 5+ years, and his time is now. Denis will play 30-45% of the games, and I see him out by March. If a move happens soon, expect a quality #2 in return to back up Leclaire. Neither of the current goalies wants to share time, and both want to be (and probably could be) the #1 guy. In my opinion, this is a good problem to have. You’ll have Leclaire playing to prove he deserves the job, and Denis playing to prove to his future employer that he is worthy of being a #1 minder. Teams will be cautious about Denis because he has spent almost his entire career with the lowly Jackets, but I have a strong feeling that whoever takes a chance on him will be justly rewarded. If we didn’t have Leclaire at the point his is right now, I’d be happy to have Denis as the last line of defense. But I think this is a chance that the organization has to take.

The Good Old Summer Time

If any major trades occur, or any CBJ rumors pop up you can expect some thoughts here. I may post some thoughts on baseball (like why the Reds should hurry up and trade Adam Dunn), college football (are the Buckeyes worthy of at pre-season top 5 ranking?), pro football (can Romeo Crennel remake the love story he wrote in New England?), and basketball (yeah right).
Of course, I might just get the bug to keep writing about hockey every few days, who knows.

In any event, thanks for reading. I always look forward to the one or two of you who actually comment. If anyone has any ideas for a column or questions that you’re just dying to have answered by the EOB editorial team, fire them over. Comment on the site or leave me an email at aharris9@columbus.rr.com