by PuckStopsHere on 02/29/12 at 04:11 AM ET
Scott Howson has been general manager of the Columbus Blue Jackets for almost five complete seasons. At the end of the year he will have five full years. During that time Columbus had their only playoff appearance. This happened in Howson’s second year when Steve Mason won the Calder Trophy and provided strong goaltending. As most of the team was acquired before Howson’s tenure (including Mason and top scorer Rick Nash) it is hard to give him much credit.
Since that time the Blue Jackets have fallen into last place in the NHL. They are thirteen points behind any other team. It is hard to find any move that Howson made that turned out well for the Blue Jackets. He is fresh off of a trade deadline where Columbus was the biggest loser.
The Blue Jackets gave up talent in Jeff Carter, Antoine Vermette, Sami Pahlsson and Grant Clitsome. The most significant player coming their way is Jack Johnson. Johnson was a first round pick (third overall) and has represented his country in the Olympics, but he is not a very good defenceman. He has a perennially bad +/- rating and is consistently the worst player on his team by Corsi rating. When Johnson is on the ice, the opponents tend to have the puck and score regardless of who Johnson plays with.
In the future, Columbus picked up some draft picks. The Kings first rounder is the most significant one. It should be in the latter half of the first round when there is no guarantee that they will get a significant player in return.
Columbus likely paid more for Carter in Jakub Voracek and the draft pick that became Sean Couturier than they got in his recent return in Jack Johnson and a conditional first round draft pick (that will be far later in the draft than the pick that became Couturier). Columbus lost value in the partial season Carter spent there.
They are not good at asset management. Grant Clitsome was lost on waivers to the Winnipeg Jets. He is good enough to play a regular shift on a team still in the playoff race and a Columbus team mired in last place gave him up for nothing. That isn’t right.
To make matters worse, Rick Nash, the top player in Blue Jacket history, wants to be traded. Howson announced this on trade deadline day but did not actually trade him. This has only made it harder for the Jackets to trade him in the future and gives the team a distraction for the rest of the season. Scott Howson did not do that properly.
Perhaps, given his record, it is a good thing that Howson doesn’t make the franchise altering move of trading Nash. Odds are he will not make a move to help secure the future of the team. The problem is no other GM candidate is in place to make a move. That will be job one for Howson’s replacement (should Columbus find one).
Scott Howson has failed as Columbus Blue Jacket GM. He is making things worse for the team with the way he got a poor return for Jeff Carter and announced Rick Nash’s trade demands but did not trade him. Columbus needs to get rid of him and find a new GM to turn things around. It is a hard place for a new GM to be forced to trade the best player in franchise history as his first job, but it will be necessary. It is better that somebody without the failed record of Scott Howson make such a franchise altering move.
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