Archives For Columbus Blue Jackets

For trade’s sake

April 3, 2013 — Leave a comment

Gone and passed is another iteration of the NHL’s Trade Deadline, and what started as an absolute snore ended with a windfall of deals coming in the last hour leading up to the deadline.

Marian Gaborik moved from the New York Rangers to the Columbus Blue Jackets in one of the biggest deals of Deadline Day.

Big names — I’d reckon we can still call Marian Gaborik a big name — were on the move, while the minor deals will go largely unheralded as the future effect will be little more than a blip or a fun fact years down the road.

Fans in Minnesota lauded the move of Minnesota Wild GM landing former Buffalo Sabres captain Jason Pominville, albeit coming at quite the cost. Philadelphia Flyers fans screamed at their phones and televisions as Steve Mason moved from Columbus to the City of Brotherly Love. Completing the spectrum, armchair GMs are left scratching their head on what exactly went on to get Washington Capitals GM George McPhee to give up Filip Forsberg less than a year after he drafted the Swede in the first round of the entry draft.

While nearly every team added at the deadline — either in the way of future picks, prospects, or roster players — there are a few which stood pat. On deadline day, the Detroit Red Wings, New York Islanders, and Montreal Canadiens made nary a roster change.

Granted, pre-deadline the Wings added sought after defense prospect Danny DeKeyser, and the Canadiens sealed a deal with Los Angeles for Davis Drewiske. In addition, it’s not as if the Islanders didn’t try to improve as, come deadline day, they reportedly kicked the tires on Brandon Saad because apparently Garth Snow thinks Chicago Blackhawks’ GM Stan Bowman can’t tell his head from a hole in the ground.

But with the lack of moves, some fans threw their hands in the air in outrage. A large sampling of Twitter action would probably be quite profanity-laced, as fans derided their favourite team’s management for not doing anything. But what is the sake of trading for trading’s sake?

If GMs made deals at the behest of fans who cheer for the club they run, it’s safe to say that franchise’s would be run into the ground.

Red Wings fans wanted to see Johan Franzen on the outs.

A litany of Red Wings fans have cried for Johan Franzen to be moved or outright waived without a thought as to the implications for the team going forward. If the Wings could have found a suitor for Franzen — if he was on the block, he would have had several, of that you can be sure — the return they would have gotten could have been slim. Fair market value for a proven playoff performer is something these fans aren’t even taking into consideration.

Fans who are making snap decisions just want to see something happen. They want something to happen so they can be apart of the flurry without careful consideration as to the implications of a deal. Making a deal, just any old deal, doesn’t necessarily provide anything to the team.

When addressing the media as the buzzer sounded on deadline day, the aforementioned Bowman told the press the management team had, “to ask ourselves the question, does it make us better? And to make a move just to make a move, we don’t believe in that.”

And as should be the case.

Sometimes staying the course is better than making a decision you’ll later regret. The GMs are doing what they believe is best for the team they’re trying to build. Whether it’s the right move or not, that’s to be seen. But there’s a careful calculation to be made.

Sometimes doing nothing is the best move to be made.

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From the outside looking in, the deal that sent former Columbus Blue Jacket Rick Nash to the New York Rangers make Scott Howson look as if he’s been defeated.

While the return that Howson got for Nash — Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon, and a first round draft pick — will net Howson’s Jackets some depth, it will do very little in the way of netting goals. Losing a gifted scorer like Nash is no easy thing for the Blue Jackets to deal with, but what else could Howson have done?

In today’s age, where contract details are everything but secret and what goes on in a locker room doesn’t stay there, Howson was put in the precarious position of trying to maximize his return for a star that had publicly begged out. His hand was forced, GMs around the league knew it, and they could rake Howson over the coals.

Think of it this way: If Howson holds on to Nash, enters the season with the disgruntled forward, and attempts to play through it, the cloud hanging over his team will only aid in crippling an already struggling franchise.

Howson had to make a move. He had to make the move that made most sense for his team and its success.

For that reason, I believe Howson nixed the deal with Detroit.

The reported package from Detroit, from multiple outlets including MLive.com and Macomb Daily, would have seen the Jackets acquire a top-six talent like Johan Franzen or Valterri Filpulla and, in addition, a depth forward with good potential. Both Darren Helm and Gustav Nyquist were mentioned by Chuck Pleiness of Macomb Daily.

But if you’re Howson, in a division that is already arguably the most difficult in the NHL, do you want to send your superstar to a division rival only to see him six times a season?

While six games may not seem all that significant, the Red Wings already boast a 49-13-1-6 record over the Jackets since their inception in 2000-01. Adding a superstar to that equation — and maybe seeing that player paired with the likes of Pavel Datsyuk or Henrik Zetterberg — is enough to scare any GM off. With the Wings taking almost 70 per cent of the points when the two teams meet, adding Nash could have bumped that up to as high as 85 or 90. That’s 10 points a season, lost.

So when the news broke yesterday that Nash had been sent to the Rangers for a package that seemed second rate, it was hard for me to find Howson at fault.

Greg Wyshynski put it perfectly over at Yahoo!’s Puck Daddy:

Nash reportedly limited his list of trade destinations to the New York Rangers, Boston Bruins, San Jose Sharks, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings. Howson wasn’t trading him within the division, so goodbye Detroit. The Flyers just signed Shea Weber to a massive contract; as of Monday, they weren’t a viable destination (and one assumes they’d rather allocate their funds to defense anyway). The Bruins didn’t want to part with the types of assets the Rangers ended up parting with; ditto the San Jose Sharks. And who knows if the Penguins wanted to add $7.8 million to their salary structure. So, in the end … yeah, the Rangers.

The deal had to be made with the Rangers. And for all the guff Glen Sather gets, you had to expect he knew that, though he was the one pursuing the prized possession, he was the one operating from the better position.

That Sather was able to make this deal without surrendering NCAA standout and playoff revelation Chris Kreider, Carl Hagelin, Ryan McDonagh, or any of the other young assets the Rangers host is a sure sign that Howson felt backed into a corner.

What Howson got back is what he could have. What he did was what needed to be done.

Howson’s head may be on the chopping block, but Rick Nash is the one who put him there.