by PuckStopsHere on 02/24/12 at 02:07 PM ET
With yesterday’s trade of Jeff Carter to the Los Angeles Kings for Jack Johnson and the 2012 Kings first round draft pick, the Columbus Blue Jackets have shown that they are going to sell off their assets. I do not want to call this process a rebuild because that implies the Columbus Blue Jackets were ever built. For a team that has never won a playoff game that is a claim I would not want to make. The most alarming thing is that Scott Howson is allowed to sell of the Blue Jacket assets. He has never shown the ability to be a competent NHL GM and he should be replaced this summer, if not earlier, yet he is given the chance to try to build a future for this franchise.
Columbus has never had a good general manager. Doug MacLean did not have the ability to make anything out of the expansion Blue Jackets. He was replaced by Howson in 2007. At the time I was sceptical. In the mainstream media Howson was portrayed as a GM in waiting, but how good could the number two guy be on a team that just missed the playoffs (the Edmonton Oilers where Howson was previously employed)?
Howson is in his fifth year as Columbus GM and I am yet to see him make a move that has paid off in a significant way for his team. The Blue jackets currently have 18 wins in 60 games played. This leaves them in last place. They are eleven points behind second last Edmonton (which was his previous gig). They have done so with a larger than average NHL payroll. The most damning thing Howson did this season was give Scott Arniel too long a run as coach and let his best potential replacement Ken Hitchcock get away to St Louis.
This particular trade does not impress me. Jeff Carter is clearly the best player in the deal. Jack Johnson is a puck moving defenceman on the worst offensive team in the NHL. How important can he be to a team’s attack? Jack Johnson’s +/- ratings show a defensive problems year after year. He is a former third pick in the 2006 entry draft and that pedigree has opened doors for him that he has likely not deserved. A mid-first round draft pick will have some value for the Blue Jackets but it is unlikely to make up the value being sent away. Jeff Carter is a solid hockey player is an excessively long contract, but there is a good chance he will have an All Star season or two in the near future.
Columbus is not done yet. More big name players will likely be moved. This includes Rick Nash, James Wisniewski, Fedor Tyutin and others. The Columbus team will be remade into a cheaper, less talented bunch then their current last place group. If it is done well they will have a strong future in front of them. If done poorly Columbus will remain an also ran well into the future. Given his track record, I wouldn’t trust Scott Howson with this process. Columbus needs a new GM. They need one now. Scott Howson doesn’t have the skills to do it well. Columbus will likely not get anywhere as they come through this process. They are stuck on the road to oblivion.
The Columbus Blue Jackets have never been a strong team. They have never won a playoff game. Scott Howson has failed as a GM. He has not been relieved of his duties and has been allowed to oversee the selloff of their current talent. If he fails in this process (which seems like the best bet given his track record), Columbus will get nowhere in this process. They will lose cheaper and have no future to show for it. There is a little to cheer about in Columbus right now.
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