In just an hour or so, the Free Agent Frenzy begins in the NHL, perhaps made a bit more rational this year by allowing teams and players to chat for a few days before actual signings can occur. Indeed, some teams apparently took liberties with the whole concept of “discussions”, prompting the NHL to issue a memo directing that all “offers” made before noon EDT today had to be withdrawn. Such is modern life — stretch the rule to the limit…then one more step.
The Coach has already presented his wish list of players, so I’m going to take a bit narrower approach here, focusing on the few players I think are realistic targets in free agency, and how that translates into reality under the salary cap. Let’s dig in.
The Budget & the Needs
Relying on our good friends at www.capgeek.com, we know that the Blue Jackets have 21 of 23 available roster slots filled, with $7,991,191 available under the cap for the outstanding two slots. Those 21 signed players include 12 forwards, 7 defensemen and two net-minders. That also includes Ryan Murray on the NHL roster, with a cap hit of $3.494 million, but does not include a roster spot for Boone Jenner, with his far more modest cap hit of $895K. So, if Murray does not make the big club, the cap space would be just under $11.5 million, but there would then be three slots to fill.
Continue reading Blue Jackets Free Agency: Assembling the Pieces
Much of the twitter banter last night surrounding the Blue Jackets roster included the excitement of a Horton visit, and the question mark surrounding a Prospal extension. It was enough to get me into a couple of late night heated debates about the value of an aging Prospal not only to the team, but to the fan base. It caused me to pose a question to my fellow twitter’ers that served some intriguing results.
The question I asked (for a reason), was who the original culture change with Columbus began, whether it was Prospal or Davidson. The results were nearly unanimous, with Vinny getting somewhere in the realm of 15-20 responses, with honourable mentions to JJ, Nash’s departure, and Howson’s removal.
Continue reading A Hard Look at Vinny Prospal
At the halfway point of the season I wrote about the second half expectations for the Blue Jackets. I looked at my preseason goal predictions for each player, then predicted how I thought they would perform over the second half of the season. Before I got to that point, I briefly discussed the team results. At the outset of the season, I had predicted a total of 128 goals scored on the season. I was off by a bit here, as they came in at only 120. However, I was off by the same amount in their goals against, as I had predicted they would come in at 127 goals allowed over the full 48 game season. Instead, they finished with 119 goals against. Excuse me for a second while I pat myself on the bat for exactly nailing their goal differential. In my preseason predictions, I hit another point that I think probably raised some eyebrows at the time: that the Jackets offense would actually improve with Rick Nash off in New York. And believe it or not it did (barely). The Jackets scored 120 goals this season, or the equivalent pace of 205 goals over 82 games. Not a great number, but better than the 202 goals the Jackets scored in 2011-12. Continue reading Looking Back to Look Back: Reviewing Preseason and Second Half Predictions
Well here we are. The 2013 NHL regular season concluded a month ago. The dastardly Kings are creeping towards the Stanley Cup Finals again. Sergei Bobrovsky is in the running for the NHL14 cover. Things are happening. But more important than all of that is the conclusion of The Union Blue Awards for 2013. The series concludes with the most important trophy of all, The Hart Memorial Trophy. It is given out to the player judged most valuable to his team. I’m sure you all know the winner, but we had five different players receive at least one vote. With that being said, the winner of the 2013 tUB Hart Memorial Trophy is….
Continue reading 2013 tUB Awards: The Hart Memorial Trophy
The Mark Messier Leadership Award. As defined, the award goes to: “the player who exemplifies great leadership qualities to his team, on and off the ice, during the regular season.” there’s no question that the Blue Jackets had leadership appearing up and down the roster with the season they gave us. However when it came down to it, surprisingly there was hardly any variation in where we all cast our votes. Who did we pick? Read on.
Continue reading 2013 tUB Awards: Mark Messier Leadership Award
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 shocking winner of the Lindsay is…..
Continue reading 2013 tUB Awards: Ted Lindsay Award
Here it is folks, the day you’ve all been waiting for. I bet every single one of you has been waiting on pins and needles to find out who wins the Clancy. It is awarded to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community. Generally, this one goes to players who do extremely awesome philanthropy. As we aren’t exactly privy to that information it took on a little different flavor. And your winner is….. Continue reading 2013 tUB Awards: King Clancy Memorial Trophy
The tUB team was all over the place with the Masterton. We had eight players receiving a vote and only two players receiving multiple votes. This speaks to a few things, chief of which is no obvious Josh Harding-like candidate (the Wild netminder battling MS). But to me, it also shows that this is a team built around guys who are very dedicated to the game of hockey, with a number of players persevering through age, injury, doubt, or just losing. This is a resilient bunch, and there were a number of very worthy candidates who didn’t even get a vote (Jack Johnson, Adrian Aucoin, and Cam Atkinson come to mind). However, we did manage to choose a victor…. Continue reading 2013 tUB Awards: The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy
It was the second night of a back to back and the Jackets were on the road tonight, this time facing the Wild. Given this team’s history, many were anxious to see how the team would respond given the high energy game of last night and the loss of home ice advantage. Well, let’s just say the game did not disappoint.
Things got going early when Charlie Coyle blatantly took his elbow and drove it in to Artem Anisimov‘s head. Arty would fall and Brandon Dubinsky would immediately answer the bell coming to his teammate’s defense. Coyle got a match penalty which kept him off the ice for the rest of the night in addition to the Wild’s next game; but, given the post-game news that Arty is out “indefinitely” I will be severely disappointed if more games aren’t dolled out in response to Coyle’s actions. Completely unacceptable. The other party to the scrum, Dubi, would get 17 total minutes of penalties and sit for basically the entire first period.
Continue reading Recap: Columbus @ Minnesota 4/13
Tough loss for the Blue Jackets last night. Tough loss indeed. With Columbus and St. Louis both coming off hard fought victories the night before, and flying into St. Louis late Thursday, the usual excuses for a road back to back just don’t apply. Fortunately, the Blue Jackets continued their run of showing up to play. They pretty much out everything-ed the Blues, from shots on goal (27 to 19) to faceoffs (33 to 26). Unfortunately, it just wasn’t enough. Jake Allen came up huge and David Backes scored a ridiculous game winning goal to get the Blues the 4 point win. It’s going to be tough sledding for the Jackets to make the playoffs (especially considering Detroit’s win later last night), but they aren’t done yet. Now onto the review of all three goals (yes, three). Continue reading Goal Breakdowns @ St. Louis 4/5