Roster Holes And How To Fill Them
Going into this free agent period, the Blue Jackets have far more answers than they did this time last year. That being said, there are still some questions that will need to be answered. I will go line by line and then discuss possible answers for them.
Nash – Brassard – Huselius — No questions here other than can Brass stay healthy all year.
Filatov – Vermette – Umberger — Again, no questions here other than is Filatov ready?
Chimera – ??? – Voracek — With Manny Malhotra and Scott Howson unable to come to terms before the July 1st date, the 3rd line center is a question. I just finished an article at Hockeybuzz.com that discusses who I think might me good replacements. Marcel Goc was just sent packing by the Sharks. He is defensive minded, good in the face off circle and can be had on the cheap. Mike Zigomanis is another guy that is really good in the faceoff circle and can give a little more offensive pop than Goc. Both Goc and Ziggy have injury bug concerns. John Madden from the Devils was my other player to look at. Veteran but also a little long in the tooth at 36. Could add some veteran leadership to the team with the loss of Peca most likely. This team is going to be very young again and he could be a great example both on and off the ice. If they get this one right, this line could even kick in some goals with the speed of Chimmer and the play making ability of Vcek, a center that can half way finish (unlike Malhotra) could really help light the lamp.
Dorsett – ??? – Torres – Another question at center which has been a common problem with this club for awhile. Michael Peca probably won’t be back next year so the club could try to sign both Goc and Zigomanis and fill both lines. Also, bringing back Jason Williams could be the cure even though Willy is better at the wing but having him back to help on the power play would be a smart play. This also could be filled by Murray also but I don’t think the club wants that.
Extra Forwards – Modin (I still think that the club could buy him out but they have said no), Murray, Boll
As you can see, the only questions are at the center positions on the 3rd and 4th lines. A lot better situation than most seasons!
Commodore – Hejda — No questions here and mean no questions here except what will be the best quote of the year by Commodore or will it come from Hejda?
Tyutin – Klesla — No questions here.
Russell – Methot — Only question is who will become the “extra” defenseman after Howson signs a defenseman in the free agency period. Jaroslav Spacek could be a player that Howson would like to come back to Columbus. Also, Marc-Andre Burgeron is another player that needs to be targeted due to his big shot and the help he can give to the power play. Derek Morris could be a little more of a risk but might be an option if the bigger guns get swallowed up with bigger money than the CBJ want to spend.
Extra Defenseman – Aaron Rome
Steve Mason – ??? — Obviously no questions for who will be the starter in net. Just a repeat of last years performance would get the Jackets back in the playoffs. If he improves, look out. But this year, they have to give Mason more rest and they will need a dependable goalie to do that. The good thing for Howson is there are a ton of them out there and it is considered a buyers market for the backup goaltenders. Some former Blue Jackets could be making a return visit. Both Brian Boucher and Ty Conklin will be on Howson’s list of possiblilities. Other options could be Kevin Weekes, Mathieu Garon and Manny Legace. Another great option would be Craig Anderson but with his last 3 years, he is looking for a starting opportunity and he knows he won’t have one of those here.
As you can see, Howson won’t have to work half as hard as he did last year. A center, a power play QB defenseman and a backup goaltender. He should have that done by dinner time July 1st, right?
Fire The Cannon!