It has been a while since I formally took some time to voice my opinion via blog specific, rather than just 140 twitter characters, but I thought it might be refreshing to put onto paper who I’d most like to see go, if Howson is looking to deal towards the deadline. Important things to note: This does NOT mean I want them to be sellers, specifically. I think the Blue Jackets can move about three of these players without even having to make a move to bring someone in, and while I want to see some of these guys gone, I expect that a move would be made to replace some of them before the deadline.
At short last, here we go:
1 – Kristian Huselius; Make no secret, I am 100% a Juice pessimist. I have been actively negative about him from around the halfway mark of his first season as a Blue Jacket to present, originally accepting his contract and playing style as ‘necessary’ for a team building a league-wide rep for quality places to play hockey. At this point, however, his lazy, unsuccessful on ice effort has me convinced that he is FINALLY taking up a roster spot in the top six that could be better utilized by another player. I would be completely satisfied if Howson could bring in a young forward or draft pick for the aging winger, who strongly relies on passes from his linemates to generate goals and rarely goes out of his way to make the play that his talent would permit him to with a sliver of effort.
2 – Jan Hejda; One piece of the shutdown pairing that lead Columbus to the playoffs two years ago, Hejda is a shadow of his former self, and is constantly making decisions that would make rookie defensemen shake their head with confusion. Terrible pinches, and blown assignments have burned the CBJ goaltenders thanks to Hejda, and offensively, horrible mistakes have caused injury to teammates because of point shots that should have been taken low, but instead were fired above waist level (see: Brassard injury). Again, a young foward or draft pick would more than suffice, as Clitsome has shown himself to be more than capable.
3 – Rusty Klesla; It would be interesting to see who would win in a career long bandaid competition, Rusty or Pazzy. While his potential has always been worth discussing, his inability to stay healthy has plagued the Blue Jacket defensive core for a handful of years. With the excellent collection of potential NHLers waiting in the prospect wing of the CBJ franchise, I would strongly insist that Howson take advantage of a team looking for potential defensive depth with a handful of picks in the upcoming draft.
4 – Anton Stralman; aka Mr. “WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT?!” Nothing more telling than last night, when he carried the puck behind his net while the Jackets clung to a small lead, only to turn it over to two Nashville players in the slot because he opted to cut to the middle. Stralman is simply one of those players who you can’t trust with the puck, and while his play has been slightly better in the recent weeks, it is not worth the defensive gaffs and turnovers to keep him in the lineup. Allow the Moore experiment continue by dealing him for a late round pick.
5 – Ethan Moreau; Brought to the Blue Jackets this year to provide quality depth with leadership capabilities, Moreau has been another who spends more time nursing injuries than he does leading the team from the third or fourth line. In a situation where the Jackets can bring in a player like Sestito to ruffle the oppositions feathers, Moreau would not be a terrible loss assuming the return was a decent draft pick or a young forward prospect.
6 – Chris Clark; Another situation where limited leadership and even more limited on ice production has plagued the Blue Jackets, Clark could easily be moved to a team looking for forward depth for a prospect or pick. Certainly his leadership potential would be missed in Columbus, but his spot on the roster could easily be replaced by a younger, harder working player considering how little the team seemed to have utilized his leadership ability.
7 – Andrew Murray; A player who has always frustrated me. He is what I like to consider a bubble player with no real ability to be more than that. Consistently being scratched, and when he is in the lineup, rarely takes a chance with the puck. While I can appreciate the value in a player who believe in sound hockey, the few times he does take a chance are usually when his inabilities as a player are magnified. Bring in a late pick for him and allow the depth to be replaced this year by a guy like Wilson.
8 – Mike Commodore; Admittedly low on the list, but mostly because I don’t personally have any optimism that he’ll be going anywhere, any time soon. From the minute his deal with the Blue Jackets was announced, I was a naysayer. I ate crow during the Blue Jackets playoff run, admitting that he and Hejda were without question our top defensive pairing, but from that point, could not have been any more painfully correct about how irrelevant, lazy, and incapable he is in the ice. If the Jackets could convince a team to take on his salary, even for a broom, bag of pucks, or free chili card, I would be impressed.
Eight players. Obviously I am not sitting here demanding they trade all of them, but I am trying to make a case as to why the Blue Jackets need to shuffle their depth a bit. Guys like Clitsome and Calvert have made it very clear that prospects are not that far out in Columbus, and that positive impact should open the door for Howson to make the necessary moves to recycle the irrelevance and replace it with futures or playoff hungry talent.
I maintain that a lack of killer instinct from a number of players (many of them mentioned above) are causing the Blue Jackets the ability to play a sixty minute game. When you watch a guy like Calvert come in, infiltrate the bottom end of the lineup, and make waves so loud that powerplay time and top six minutes are awarded, it’s a fairly clear indication that there is room for improvement in our depth.
Carry the Flag!