After Big Trades,
Jackets Not Feeling So Blue
General Manager Scott Howson has been like a mad scientist
since the start of free agency, mixing up a formula he hopes will be a cure for
the Blue Jackets losing ways.
By Eric Geier
So far, the Blue Jackets have
traded Gilbert Brule, Dan Fritsche and Nikolai Zherdev. In addition, the
Jackets are not planning on re-signing the last original Blue Jacket, David
Mike Commodore (D)
- Signed a 5-year deal with the Jackets. Commodore is your next Jody Shelley,
except he can also skate, score and hit people in the open ice. He stands at
6-foot-5 and weighs 225 pounds. In 67
games last year he only registered 11 points, mainly due to a lack of identity,
as he was shuffled between teams. He also registered 100 penalty minutes. Howson
explained his reasoning behind the signing, saying, "We are building a
team identity based on competitiveness and being hard to play against and Mike
fits that very well.” Also adding, "He is a physical presence on the
blueline, has won championships at various levels throughout his career and we
think he will be an excellent addition to our hockey club."
Kristian Huselius (F)
- Inked a four-year, $19 million dollar deal. The 29-year old becomes Nikolai
Zherdev’s replacement. In his career, Huselius has recorded two 20-goal seasons
and one 30-goal season. Over the past two seasons with Calgary he has recorded 144 points. Though
Howson added some offensive flair, they had to give up Zherdev, a proven
scorer. I would have liked to see them keep Zherdev, but I suppose this is all
part of Howson’s master plan.
Raffi Torres (LW)
- Acquired from Edmonton
in a trade for Gilbert Brule. Torres only had 11 points last season because he
missed 49 games with season ending knee surgery. The 26 year old will add
offense and the experience of a playoff veteran to the Blue Jackets.
Fedor Tyutin (D) -
Signed a 3-year deal that pays him $2.25 million next season with options for a
raise after the season. Tyutin is just what Scott Howson wanted, a sound
defensive player who has the skills on offense to create. When asked about playing with the Jackets
Tyutin said, “I’m excited for the chance. I talked to coach (Ken Hitchcock),
and it sounds like we’re of the same page for what we can expect next season.
The goal is the playoffs, right?”
- The Blue Jackets bought out the final year of Backman’s contract with the
Rangers. They will pay his $3.4 million salary next season, the last year of
his contract. Backman also has some offensive skills as a defensive player, but
according to the Columbus Dispatch he is “prone to making big mistakes.” Those
mistakes led to being benched last season during the Rangers playoff run.
Despite his mistakes, Backman is an excellent power play defender and will be
expected to contribute there.
What it Means
The Blue Jackets will not be the
same team we have seen the past few years. They have acquired proven
professionals with playoff and big game experience. For those that know hockey,
it is clear that the Jackets are no longer a team of no names. Mike Commodore
and Kristian Huselius are players you see in the highlights. The next step is
meshing these players with the current Blue Jackets, including young captain
Rick Nash. I believe that Ken Hitchcock has finally received the tools he needs
to start building a playoff hockey club. The West better beware.