Why I think the CBJ should focus on Defense at the NHL Entry Draft

Posted by CBJProspects on June 13, 2014
Draft, Prospects / No Comments

How do, all! As you know, I’ve been saying that the CBJ should focus on their defensive prospect depth in this year’s draft despite the fact that, from what I’ve gathered, the best player available in the first round will more than likely be a forward. As I pointed out in my preview, the CBJ have used 16 of their last 19 picks on forwards or goalies including six of last year’s seven picks (all six being forwards) with four of those picks being among the teams top prospects. But more importantly, I say this because of the organization’s overall lack of depth at the position.

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The Second Annual tUB Awards: The Hart Memorial Trophy

Posted by Staff on June 12, 2014
tUB Awards / No Comments

Well here we are. The 2014 Stanley Cup is going to be awarded pretty darn soon – a former Jacket (or 2..or 3..or 4) will be raising it. Free agency talk is starting to buzz. Things are happening. But more important than all of that is the conclusion of The Union Blue Awards for 2014. We wrap everything up with the most important trophy of all, The Hart Memorial Trophy. It is given out to the player judged most valuable to his team. Last year’s winner was a clear cut decision for Sergei Bobrovsky, but with more and more success built on more and more guys stepping up – we have a wealth of votes to dole out. With that being said, the winner of the 2014 tUB Hart Memorial Trophy is….

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The Second Annual tUB Awards: The Mark Messier Leadership Award

Posted by Staff on June 10, 2014
tUB Awards / 1 Comment

As defined, the The Mark Messier Leadership Award goes to: “the player who exemplifies great leadership qualities to his team, on and off the ice, during the regular season.” With the second year without a captain, it’s easy to argue that “the leader” is yet to be identified, but that doesn’t mean that the team suffered from a lack of leadership based on the votes cast by the tUB team. Last year’s winner was Vinny, but now we have a new crop of contenders from which to pick. Who gets this year’s nod? Read on:

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The Second Annual tUB Awards: Frank J. Selke Trophy

Posted by Staff on June 07, 2014
tUB Awards / No Comments

The Selke goes out to the top defensive forward in the NHL. Usually this also carries with it the burden of being somewhat of an offensive player as well. Last year’s winner was Brandon Dubinsky with others up and down the line up receiving votes. Can 17 repeat? Read on to see who this year’s Union Blue Selke winner is…

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Second Annual tUB Awards: Jack Adams Award

Posted by Staff on June 04, 2014
Columbus Blue Jackets / 1 Comment

When it comes to naming the outstanding coach for the season, we here at tUB thought this might be an easy decision for everyone. But once again, our intrepid team of writers always looks at a lot of different angles when it comes to the impact that coaching can make on the Blue Jackets organization. Do you think this post is an ode to Head Coach (and recently extended) Todd Richards? Well click to read more. This year’s Jack Adams award winner is…

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2014 CBJ Prospect Awards

Posted by CBJProspects on June 02, 2014
Columbus Blue Jackets, Prospects / No Comments

Greeting all! Live from your phone or PC, the entertainment capital of your office, it’s time for my fourth annual edition of The Prospect Awards so put on your best tuxedo shirt and let’s get going. Continue reading…

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2014 tUB Awards: Ted Lindsay Award

Posted by Staff on May 29, 2014
tUB Awards / 2 Comments

The Lindsay is given out by the NHLPA, and awarded to the most outstanding player as decided by the players. Since we couldn’t do the whole player votes part (what sets it apart from the Hart) we went in a slightly different direction. The tUB Lindsay is going out to the BEST player, irregardless of value to the team. So with that said, the winner of the Lindsay is…

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CBJ Prospects at the Memorial Cup

Posted by CBJProspects on May 29, 2014
Prospects / No Comments

Well folks – the season for everyone with the Blue Jackets has come to an end when the Memorial Cup Final was played on Sunday. The CBJ had two prospects playing in the event – Josh Anderson played for the host London Knights and Kerby Rychel played for the OHL Champions Guelph Storm.

Josh Anderson-London Knights (Host)
Memorial Cup Stats 3GP 1-0-1 -2 6PIM
Josh and the Knights had been off since they were eliminated in the second round of the OHL playoffs by Guelph. Unfortunately, this section of the review is really one of those “if you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all” moments. The Knights were a disappointment including being named the “worst on-ice Memorial Cup host ever”. They were only the second host to not win a game – but at least they did better than the other team winning that honor. The 03 Quebec Remparts scored 8 and allowed 12 where the Knights scored only four goals allowing 13.

In their three games, the Knights were shutout in a 1-0 loss to Val-d’Or despite taking 51 shots; then they lost 5-2 to Edmonton setting up a win or go home game against Guelph. In the 7-2 Guelph win, Josh picked up his only point of the tournament. In the second period with London trailing 3-1 Josh drove to the net and shot. Justin Nichols stopped it and Max Domi missed the rebound allowing the puck going to Brady Austin. Austin’s shot seems to have been tipped by Mitchell Marner. Nichols stopped this shot as well but the rebound got to Josh allowing him to snap a backhand to make it 3-2. This game ended Josh’s OHL career as he is more than likely headed to Springfield, Massachusetts next year (even though I think the RJ Umberger trade would open a Josh sized hole in the CBJ lineup – just throwing it out there).

In his OHL career Josh scored 122 points in 191 games after walking on with the Knights. Josh is only the second Jackets draft pick ever to play in three Memorial Cups joining Phillipe Dupuis who played in 03,04 and 06.

Kerby Rychel-Guelph Storm (OHL Champions)
Memorial Cup Stats 4GP 3-4-7 +2 0PIM
Kerby and the Storm had the longest layoff of the three league champs and opened against Edmonton Saturday night in London. Kerby started the scoring with just five seconds remaining in the first period, when he picked up the rebound of a Zach Leslie point shot to make it 1-0. In the second, after the Oil Kings scored two goals in 27 seconds, Kerby scored a goofy one. On a dump in, Kings goalie Tristan Jarry played the puck and got it to a dman who cleared it…right into Kerby bouncing off him into the net to tie it at two (watch the highlights you see Kerby give kind of a “I don’t know what happened” gesture). Kerby would be named first star in the 5-2 win, here’s his post game comments.

Up next was a game against the 1-0 Foreurs. Just a minute in the Storm’s top line worked its magic when Zack Mitchell went to the corner and found Robby Fabbri (please Jarmo I don’t ask for much) in the slot who had the attention of every one in green – even the mascot and he wasn’t even in London – sliding a perfect pass to Kerby who had a wide open net to tap the puck in to. In the second, after the Foreurs score two in 56 seconds, the Storm’s top line was at it again with Mitchell, Fabbri and Rychel. The goal came with Fabbri finishing off a pretty passing sequence. The Storm won the game 6-3.

Up next was a game against the host London Knights with the Storm picking up a 7-2 win ending the Knights tournament and clinching the Storm a spot in Sunday’s Cup Final.  Kerby picked up an assist on Scott Kosmachuk’s hat trick goal when, on a three on two, Kerby got the puck from Fabbri and sent it to Kosmachuk (even though it looks like he didn’t even touch it) who slid it past Jake Patterson.

With some help from a twitter follower, I was able to attend the Championship game and make my first trip to London. Of the three OHL rinks I’ve been to it was the nicest. In the Final, a matchup between Guelph and the WHL Champ Edmonton Oil Kings, the outcome marked the first time since 2010 a non QMJHL team won the Cup. Kerby picked up another point in the first minute when Zack Mitchell stole a clearing attempt and started a three on two. He passed the puck to Kerby who passed to Fabbri who had a wide open net allowing him to make it 1-0 Storm. Early in the third, with Guelph trailing 4-2, Kerby came screaming off the bench and gathered a loose puck from a board battle. He then went behind the net and found Mitchell in front to make it 4-3. Sadly it wasn’t enough and the Storm would fall 6-3.

Kerby finished tied for second in tournament scoring and was named to the all star team. Kerby took the loss in his final junior game hard sitting on the bench (shown crying on the scoreboard way too long London or Sportsnet camera guy) with his linemates while his teammates waited for the Oil Kings to line up for the handshakes. Kerby, like Josh, is off to Springfield even though he’ll probably get a long look in training camp (again Umberger trade=Rychel size hole but that’s me). Kerby ends his junior career with 272 points in 256 games played including two 40 goal seasons.

There you have it folks, another season of my ramblings. I’ll be back soon with my CBJ prospect awards and we are a little less than a month away from the NHL draft so soon I’ll have a new batch of guys to keep track of.

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Jack Johnson, James Wisniewski, and the Roles of Defensemen

Posted by The Coach on May 28, 2014
Columbus Blue Jackets / 4 Comments

Jack Johnson. James Wisniewski. Two divisive players playing the same position. A quick Google search will bring up loads of examples of people saying how bad Jack Johnson is. A quick search of Twitter post-playoff elimination would have found numerous examples of people saying how bad James Wisniewski is. What all that super analysis tends to forget is the role of a defenseman. Which isn’t always easy to judge. It’s much easier to watch a forward play, look at his stats, and decide with reasonable accuracy how good (or bad) he is. For defensemen, it is MUCH more difficult. That stats aren’t quite as telling. Some of the most important aspects of playing defense have no stats, are barely perceptible to most viewers, and are significantly influenced by the role the defenseman plays on his team. Put a guy in his own end, against the best players, and make him the primary puckhandler on his pairing, and you’ll see a lot of goals against, a lot of turnovers, and not a lot of points. Put a guy in the offensive zone, against lesser competition, playing with scorers, and make him one of the focal points of the offense, and you’ll see less turnovers, lots of points and goals, and less goals against. Switch up either of those roles on the fly,  and you’re likely to see the results switch up. There are only six defensemen on a team, so unless they are just rolled over willy nilly, you can’t compare teammates (well unless they are partners). You need to look at how those defensemen compare to other defensemen playing similar roles. So that’s what I did for Johnson and Wisniewski to try and find out if they are good, average, terrible, or deserving of buyouts.
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The Second Annual tUB Awards: Executive of the Year

Posted by Staff on May 27, 2014
Columbus Blue Jackets / No Comments

Again we continue the trend of last year – we can’t really open this award to too many folks. Current Blue Jackets executives basically include John Davidson (JD) and Jarmo Kekalainen as both Craig Patrick and Scott Howson are no longer in the fold. But that doesn’t mean the team here at Union Blue can’t be creative. So without further ado, your Columbus Blue Jackets Executive of the year is….

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