Jackets Land Williams From Thrashers
While my wife and I were doing our best Canadian impersonations . . . shoveling our driveway (my wife for the second time today), the Jackets completed a trade with the Atlanta Thrashers, acquiring Center Jason Williams in return for Clay Wilson and a 6th round draft pick in the 2009 draft.
Williams, a 28 year old Ontario native, brings a right-handed shot and power play point experience to the Jackets. His NHL debut with the Detroit Red Wings came in the Jackets’ inaugural season of 2000-2001. He spent most of the next 3 seasons bouncing between the AHL and the big club, though stuck with Detroit through the 2002 Stanley Cup campaign. His breakout year came in 2005 – 2006, when he had 21 goals and 37 assists in 80 games for the Red Wings. He netted his first career hat trick against the Bluejackets on October 22 of that year in a 6 – 0 Wings victory. All 3 goals came in the first period. The following year, 2006 -2007, he was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks after he sustained a concussion in a hit delivered by then-Edmonton Oiler Raffi Torres. His contributions during the 2007 -2008 season were limited by a sports hernia injury. He became a free agent after that season, signing with the Atlanta Thrashers.
A power play specialist with a strong shot and good savvy, Williams is on the smallish side, at 5′ 11″ and 195 pounds. THN describes his skill set as follows:
ASSETS: Is gifted and savvy. Can put up solid numbers and works well with talented linemates. Is very useful on the power play and can even play the point.
FLAWS: Lacks size and supreme skating ability. Must play a grittier game in order to maximize his productivity on a scoring line.
CAREER POTENTIAL: Top six forward.
This seems like a nice pick-up by Howson on several levels. We simultaneously get a right handed shot, power play experience and depth at forward, while not giving up much. Wilson was clearly not in the long term plans for the Jackets, and the 6th round choice is a no-brainer. We are on the hook for about $1 million of his $2.2 million salary. He has only a 1 year deal, so some risk on being able to sign him. However, having spent most of his career in Chicago and Detroit, Columbus could not be viewed as a stretch for him. At 28, he is experienced, but still young enough to potentially be around for a long time.
This was a fine bit of sleight of hand — everyone was looking at potential PP help coming from a defenseman with a right handed shot, with most attention focusing on Pavel Kubina of Toronto. That could still happen, but I would still look now for a draft choice deal for Nik Antropov from Toronto. With Vancouver having put Curtis Sandford on waivers, we may take a shot at him, if he is around, to provide insurance for Le Claire.
Bottom line, the first piece of the puzzle is in place, with minimal investment on our part. Good start Scott!!!