Archive for the ‘Fredrik Modin’ 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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Another One

January 16, 2008

The Blue Jackets got a win last night and I am sure that at this point in the season, Ken Hitchcock is taking them one at a time.  The NHL and the Western Conference is so log-jammed that, with the exception of Detroit, the whole playoff standings may not be decided until the final week of the season.  The Jackets stormed out of the gate last night, but Vancouver caught up to them by the second period and then it was a fencing match until Jason Chimera skated hard to the net with his stick on the ice.

Everybody was happy after the game, with the Jackets winning and Kris Beech getting a goal.  I heard some criticism of Rick Nash after the game, but the team has Nikolai Zherdev picking up the slack to compensate.  If Fedrik Modin can play, it will be interesting to see how the other teams try to match.  As everyone saw last night, it was extremely difficult for Columbus to match up against the Sedins, but imagine if Vancouver had another line that was effective during the game.  It would not have been pretty.  So if the CBJ can throw Rick Nash out on one line and Zherdev on another, and then mix in the refreshed David Vyborny, Modin, and Sergei Fedorov and maybe get some numbers from the Fritsche-Chimera-Malhotra line, look out.  What if Gilbert Brule comes back from Syracuse with his confidence back?  What if Ron Hainsey and Rusty Klesla keep playing their recent games?

Five tough road games await the Jackets.  I’ll take five points, but seven is not unrealistic.

-Truth Serum

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Doom and Gloom

January 9, 2008

Things aren’t looking too good for local sports fans. The Blue Jackets seem to be in a funk (or perhaps merely playing to the best of their ability), the OSU Buckeyes received another pounding in the BCS Championship, and there is some squabbling that might delay building the new Huntington Park where the Clippers (hint; a baseball team) will play. I will limit this post to hockey, except to state that Jody Shelley had nothing to do with the loss in New Orleans, despite what some people think.

OK, the Jackets got beat pretty good last night by St. Louis, 6-1. The Blues are now three points ahead of Columbus in the standings, 47 to 44, and the Jackets’ record in the last ten games is 5-5-0, the same as first place Dallas. People are up in arms about Steve Mason being called up, but the reality is that Mason will not play a minute for the team and will be back in Junior. So now the fans can go back to worrying about Shelley getting too much ice time or Scott Howson not trading away one of our players for someone of greater value.

The Dispatch ran a story earlier this week and they mentioned the “P” word, or playoffs. I will admit that the playoffs have been in the back of my mind, but it is one of the things you keep quiet about until the right moment, like the latter part of the season when it matters. Nevertheless, it is out and some fans are demanding their playoff tickets now. By the way, for those of you who pay retail for your seats, do you have any idea what a playoff ticket costs? Standard pricing is double face value, and PSL holders will be required to buy the series, not just a single game. You’re welcome.

I have said in the past that I would like the Blue Jackets to be in the hunt after Christmas, preferably at the end of February. Since it is not February, the team is meeting my expectations. The Jackets have been lumped together with Chicago and St. Louis by a lot of (non Dispatch) hockey writers and if you look at the standings, they are still in that “lump”. As much as we anguish over the Jackets, the Blackhawks have been even more inconsistent, and they possess two of the most exciting rookies out there. Like Fredrik Modin, the Hawks have been missing one of their superstars, injury-plagued Martin Havlat, for most of the season. They have a dependable roster that some might argue is stronger than Columbus. The Blue Jackets have a better coach, but as we all know coaches do not lace them up.

St. Louis finally has stabilized, but it took most of the season. They did make a deal for Andy McDonald, but the deal itself was for the benefit of Anaheim. It was one-sided, with the Blues getting am immediate fix. Could Columbus have dealt away a low-cost aging forward for McDonald? Be honest! So a one-sided deal may help St. Louis get out of the lump and into the post season. Too bad we couldn’t have picked up the injured Petr Prucha for Vyborny.

I am counseling patience here and asking for you to wait another 45 days before you give up on the season. You could even say that I am waiting until next year, when the team is fully under the control of Scott Howson and Ken Hitchcock. For now, I just hope that the Blue Jackets break out of the lump in the midst of the franchise do-over.

-Truth Serum

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A few tidbits

November 27, 2007

James Mirtle has a few items up over at his site that may be of interest to those of us in Blue Jacket Land.

Apparently, things are not going well down south with the sale of the Tampa Bay Lightning.  Absolute Hockey Enterprises, of which former CBJ President/GM Doug MacLean is a partner, failed to come up with a required $5 million payment.  James links to Lightning Strikes, the St. Pete Times’ hockey blog.  From James Thorner and Jonathan Milton at LS:

…the investment group has splintered as Coral Springs real estate developer Jeff Sherrin and former Blue Jackets president Doug MacLean are suing Hollywood producer Oren Koules for allegedly failing to make a capital contribution of $4.17-million which was to be part of the $5-million payment.

The article states that Sherrin and MacLean are asking for $50 million in damages from their co-partner.  I’m guessing that’s not $50 million for each, as MacLean has reportedly not put in much money.  He was to be the brains of the operation.  Which makes sense since he’s asking for $50 million from a guy who couldn’t come up with $4.17 million.  Just sayin’.

CGMDM

Doug MacLean looks as happy to be here as we are to (still) have him.

Tampa hockey fans, you can breathe now.

And in other news, the media love for Jody Shelley and Jared Boll continues in Columbus.  Just now I’m watching the Jackets take on the Oilers, and there is a little segment on FSN where Shelley is interviewed to discuss what he and his linemates bring to the team.  Interestingly enough, James Mirtle put up a little article on Saturday discussing the contributions of “tough guys”.  So what do the goons/fighters/enforcers of the NHL provide for their teams?  I won’t butcher Mirtle’s work (go read it, will ya!), but I’ll summarize it by saying this… not much. 

The sample size of the data being used is a tad small (the most combined goals for and against any of the 20 players profiled so far this season is ten), but I’m not certain that the point won’t hold true as the season progresses.

Hockey fighting

Thankfully, they have the tie-down jerseys now so we don’t have to see this.

Now I’m no Shelley/Boll hater, and I’m not a Shelley/Boll apologist either.  I’ve seen Jody work hard in practice to improve his game, and I can understand why many people view him as a fan favorite.  I do think he’s the least skilled forward on the team (not a character indictment, just my opinion), and that he’s far from a favorite of mine.  Jared Boll I think has some promise, but my walls are echoing with the words, “why is he fighting again?”  I suppose it’s possible that he’s trying to make his mark and prove that he belongs, but I think he’s overdoing it just a little.  The energy, hard skating, and hitting I like.  The fighting (especially when Shelley is in the lineup), I don’t care for so much.  There have been a few I understood, but there are some I don’t.  His scrap on Saturday against Detroit’s Aaron Downey I didn’t understand.  Shelley was on the ice (and being corralled by the linesman) at the time, and I’m not sure that Boll’s bout helped the team. 

In any event, what I got from Mirtle’s post is that there may be better options for the fourth line than a guy who mostly fights.  What it made me remember is that we have Freddy Modin (avg 15:09 TOI/game) recuperating from injury while Jody Shelley (4:45 TOI/game) is “taking his place”.  Those nine and a half minutes have to be made up somewhere, don’t you think?

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

– Drew

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Did you miss me?

October 3, 2007

It’s been awhile, folks.  I’ve had something like eleven meaningful posts since the Stanley Cup was awarded to Anaheim.  Kudos to Truth Serum for keeping things rolling with thought provoking material during the slow months.

Hockey season is upon us once again, and every fan of every team is filled with hope and excitement.  Some fans mask their hope embarassingly in false bravado, others (like myself) in cynically guarded optimism (if this makes sense to you, please let me know exactly how I feel).  But as we work our way through the final hours prior the start of the NHL season, we all think there might be a chance.

I’ll have my predictions (by conference) up very soon, so you all can begin the mocking process because I didn’t pick your team to finish at the top.  Until then, it’s a reprisal of the quick hitter column.

Wednesday Quick Hitters

  • Kris Russell and Jared Boll have surprised more than a few people by making the roster.  Steve Mason will also serve as the third goalie for the time being.  With no evil GM overlord issuing edicts as to which junior player will be thrown to the wolves this year, it’s safe to assume that these young guys have proven themselves worthy of the opportunity.  And if you’ve seen any of them play (even if it is preseason), you know that this is true.  Russell may be smaller than most, but he makes Duvie Westcott look positively expendable (my wife is going to kill me for writing that).
  • Adam Foote, Fredrik Modin, and Michael Peca are all currently on Injured Reserve.  It’s been reported that Modin and Foote are merely there to assist in trimming the roster to 23 and should be on the ice when the season starts this Friday.  Peca is a different story, as he is not expected to suit up for the opener.  After missing the entire preseason due to a groin injury, and now having questionable status due to back spasms, Peca is a bit of a health concern going forward.  I’m doing my best to not be hasty in my judgement, and I’m not going to allow myself to issue any I-told-you-so’s at this time.  I’m sincerely hopeful that he can rejoin the team on the Nationwide ice soon and help us win some games.
  • Sheldon Brookbank was last year’s AHL Defenseman of the Year.  The Jackets signed him as a free agent, and there was some hope that he could help bolster the depth on the blueline.  I did not hear much about him from training camp or the preseason, so it’s hard for me to have an opinion about seeing him snagged off the waiver wire by the New Jersey Devils.  Does anybody else have any better insight here?
  • We’ve got a cannon this year.  Seriously, we do.  Be prepared.
  • Sergei Fedorov has won Survivor: CBJ Center and gets to play between David Vyborny and Rick Nash, at least for a few games.  It appears, however, that this will indefinitely be an open position.  Look for a few others to get their shot, maybe even Derick Brassard at some point in time.
  • There are two “Number One” goalies on the roster.  Head coach Ken Hitchcock says, “I told them both that we will reward really good play by either one of them. That’s just how it is. If a guy is on a roll or he’s getting shutouts, we will reward that.”  I’m okay with either.  I’ve been more of a Norrena man in the past, but honestly I’m going to support whomever gives the team the best chance to win.  Freddy has the stoic confidence of the old wise man, and Pascal has the sick flashy moves of the brash youngster.  Still, both have conducted themselves in a very professional manner through it all.  I hope this is a good battle, and not one of the lesser of two evils.

That’s all for today.  Thanks for stopping by the End of the Bench.  Come back soon.

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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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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).