Kukla's Korner Hockey
I’ve been told that the Blue Jackets will be in hot pursuit of “four or five” players as of 12:00:01 Tuesday. First is the phone calls, then out go the faxes with offers. My guess—Redden, Morrison, Brooks Orpik, Kristian Huselius, Radim Vrbata. Maybe Niklas Hagman. Maybe Mike Commodore. Wait, that’s seven.
NHL.com provides a a selection of articles rounding up all the latest happenings in the Central Division. Articles posted today include:
“Davidson Sees the Blues Making Strides” by Mike G. Morreale
“Blackhawks a Team on the Rise” by Brian Compton
“Jackets Still Seeking Elusive Playoff Berth” by Mike G. Morreale
“Wings Dominated en Route to Stanley Cup” by Brian Compton
“Despite Ouster, Reasons for Preds to be Proud” by Mike G. Morreale
from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch,
They’re willing to spend $12 million to $15 million on the following pursuits: at least two defensemen and one, maybe two, forwards.
“I would expect us to have four or five serious conversations shortly after noon,” general manager Scott Howson said. “I know in my mind what we’re doing. We have a plan we’re ready to execute.”
Howson’s biggest pursuit will be defensemen, an area of weakness for the Blue Jackets since day one.
“There’s going to be significant money spent on the blue line,” Howson said. “That’s our biggest issue right now.”
from Ben Kuzma of the Vancouver Province via the National Post,
The Columbus Blue Jackets are expected to make a play Tuesday for unrestricted free agent centre Brendan Morrison, The Vancouver Province has learned….
The Jackets are rumoured to be offering a three-year deal at about US$8-million and have only US$25-million committed to 2008-09 salaries under the new US$56.7-million cap ceiling.
“Brendan has been one of the more durable and consistent centres in the league and he’s only 32,” said his agent Kurt Overhardt.
Defenseman Duvie Westcott is on waivers, The Dispatch has learned. Once he clears waivers, the Blue Jackets will buy out the remainer of his contract.
Westcott has two years remaining on a contract that was to pay him $1.85 million per season. The Blue Jackets will be responsible for two thirds of the money owed, but they can spread it over the next four seasons at about $600,000 per.
from Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch,
We’ve come a long way in Columbus. The annual draft, a time of rebirth and promise, has turned into another opportunity to rip management. That is practically Canadian.
Fans understand that franchise sustenance depends largely on drafting well and stocking the farm system. But after eight spotty drafts and seven losing seasons, the Jackets remain a nondescript team, and nobody cares how many quality fifth-round picks and third-line forwards they have.
The Jackets need players.
No Patrick Marleau. No Olli Jokinen. No puck-moving defensemen. But Howson got a top-six forward in R.J. Umberger (maybe a top nine) and he kept the No. 6 pick, spending it on Russian winger Nikita Filatov….
The trade for Umberger was struck before the draft. There was lots of back-and-forth, with Howson making his way to the Flyers’ table to chat with GM Paul Holmgren on numerous occasions, and vice versa.
Umberger is not a prototypical scoring-line center. Hell, he might not even be a prototypical center. But look at the Blue Jackets’ roster. Suddenly, he’s a sure-fire, scoring-line center.
R.J. Umberger could be headed back to central Ohio.
Rumors are spreading in Ottawa that Umberger, who attended Ohio State, could be headed to the Blue Jackets at some point this weekend. No word on what the Blue Jackets would be trading to Philly.
Nick Kypreos was just on Fan590 in Toronto and stated Ryan Malone has been telling people that Columbus, along with Toronto is one of the teams he does not want to play for. Nick feels Columbus is just trying to show an effort to sign a player.
Take it as you wish….
added 9:29pm, As a KK reader pointed out in the comments,
Left wing Ryan Malone said Tuesday he plans to opt for free agency—a significant blow to the Penguins’ chances of trading him for a pick in this weekend’s NHL Entry Draft.
“We will not talk to anyone until July 1,” said Malone, who will become an unrestricted free agent on that date.
more at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review…
from Aaron Portzline of the Dispatch,
After months of planning and strategy, the Blue Jackets’ summer of significant change is nearing the launch pad.
A trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins for the negotiating rights to winger Ryan Malone could be struck today or, more likely, Wednesday, NHL sources told The Dispatch
more on the Blue Jackets…
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