CBJ Fans, Prepare Yourself for a Different Defense Than You Expect

Seriously folks. I know I seem to come across like the biggest Dalton Prout hater that ever lived, but I swear this has nothing to do with anything I’ve previously said on the man (or kid). I’ve usually had good things to say about Tim Erixon and Ryan Murray (and think Murray is legit), but those three guys have a much bigger hill to climb than you probably expect. 

We know James Wisniewski, Jack Johnson, Fedor Tyutin, and Nikita Nikitin will definitely be in the NHL to start the season. They have relatively big money and are on one way contracts. So barring a trade, that leaves three open defense spots. Fighting for those three spots are five players, the aforementioned Prout, Murray and Erixon, along with David Savard and Cody Goloubef. Seems like it should be a pretty good competition, with Prout being close to a lock based on his play last season, and Murray probably earning a spot due to his potential, and then the rest of them fighting it out for the 7th man job. But I doubt it plays out that way.

If I were a betting man, I’d put money that it’s actually a three man fight for one of those spots with two of them already locked in. That fight is between Erixon, Murray, and Prout. As in, I think Goloubef and Savard are locks to make the team. This is all because of Article 13 of the NHL’s latest CBA. Because of this article, Goloubef and Savard would have to clear waivers if they are cut from the Jackets. Considering the relatively tiny amount of salary owed to them, their potential, and what they’ve already shown at the AHL and NHL level, I put the odds of one or both of them clearing waivers at “very unlikely”.

So there’s the monkey wrench in the battle. Is the difference between Prout and Goloubef large enough to risk losing Goloubef for nothing? What about with Savard and Erixon/Murray? Yeah, I think Prout is slightly better than Goloubef, but I’d rather have Goloubef in the NHL, and Prout as the first call up than Prout in the lineup, Goloubef playing for the Panthers (or someone), and relying on career AHLers to keep the team afloat when the inevitable injuries hit. Furthering this is Prout’s injury status. With him being hurt, I could very easily see the justification of sending Prout back to the AHL to get his legs back under him, and waiting for another injury to bring him back up again.

So with that being said, how do I think the Jackets defense shakes out? Murray and Wisniewski playing together so much seems like it’s a lock. Murray is just far too good already. He’s head and shoulders above the other four bubble defensemen. That’s really the only question, as you then can pretty easily figure that Tyutin will be paired with Johnson, and Nikitin play on the third pair with whichever one of Savard or Goloubef is in the lineup. Erixon and Prout can then dominate down in Springfield until Wiz gets hurt. That can be the plan for now at least. Once Prout plays another 36 NHL games, he has to clear waivers. Then this whole thing gets even more complicated. So prepare yourself Prout lovers. Prepare to live in a world with a Prout-less Jackets squad.

5 Responses to 'CBJ Fans, Prepare Yourself for a Different Defense Than You Expect'

  1. The Coach says:

    So there seems to be some confusion on Twitter regarding Article 13 of the CBA and how it applies to Savard and Goloubef. For those of you who don’t trust me, and want the minutiae, here it is:

    Article 13.4 goes over exempted players. Neither Savard nor Goloubef have played enough games to move beyond exempt status that way, but they have accrued enough time to be exposed to waivers. Savard signed at age 20, and Goloubef signed at age 21. This means they have three years of professional hockey or 160 games (for Savard) or 80 games (for Goloubef) before they are no longer waiver exempt. Both have now played three professional seasons.

    This is fairly straightforward for Goloubef, but Savard causes some confusion because of his birth date. For the purpose of this rule, Savard was 20 when he signed his deal, even though he was only 19. Accoarding to 13.4 Note 2, the “age 20″ year is the entire calendar year for the purpose of that section. So Savard was 20 when he signed, not 19. The September 15th age cut off only applies to the draft and players signed at age 18 (aka immediately after being drafted). Since Savard has a late birthday, he was drafted at age 18, turned 19 that same fall, then signed the next summer, which was his age 20 year.

    Any more questions related to this?

  2. Gallos says:

    To me at times I think you are saying that we should keep a player who is not as good because you would have to expose them to waivers. Do I interpret you correctly? I think they should hang on to Savard and Goloubef only if they are the best player. Are you saying you think they will be better than Prout at the beginning of the year (which might well be)? I personally think they would successfully pass waivers at the end of camp when everyone is trimming rosters. To claim them another team would have to keep them in the NHL, and as much as I like the players I don’t see it happening. A separate question is: would they have to pass through waivers if you brought them up from the AHL? Or is it only waivers going down to the A?

    • The Coach says:

      Reentry waivers were eliminated in the latest CBA, so they wouldn’t have to clear on return.

      Regarding the bulk of your point, yes I am advocating keeping worse players, provided the difference between them is negligible. But to me, this isn’t advocating the Jackets be worse.

      Wiz can’t stay healthy, Niki can’t stay healthy, Prout is recovering from a serious injury, Murray is just back after a major injury, etc. The Jackets dressed 11 different defensemen for NHL games last year. Say they need to dress ten different guys this year. Would they be better off dressing JJ, Wiz, Tyuts, Niki, Murray, Erixon, Prout, Goloubef, Savard, and Ilari Melart; or JJ, Wiz, Tyuts, Niki, Murray, Erixon, Prout, Melart, Patrick McNeill and Will Weber?

      To me, Goloubef/Savard in the 6/7 spot doesn’t mean they both play if guys go down or a deal is made. The dmen don’t need to be ranked in an order or anything. If Wiz goes down for a month, call up Prout immediately and put him in the lineup. If two guys go down, call up Erixon as well and put him in the lineup. Savard and Goloubef might “make the team”, be on the CBJ roster all season, and play less NHL games than Prout and Erixon.

  3. sportdoc says:

    I have been having the same thoughts, except I also think Ericson is in the same boat because of games played and has to clear waivers. Keep Ericson and Savard, and send down Prout and Goloubef taking a chance Cody won’t be claimed. Orrr smell a trade coming?

    • The Coach says:

      Erixon has a year of waiver exemption left, so he can be safely shuttled back and forth without worrying about losing him.

      I agree that we see a deal at some point. Nikitin is the common target, although not for his play but because he’ll be a UFA after the season. If you can move Nikitin for pick and turn his spot over to Prout/Erixon, you might as well do it, as I bet he walks after the season anyway.

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