Head-scratchers continue for Blue Jackets
June, 22, 2012
By Scott Burnside | ESPN.com
PITTSBURGH -- Still don’t quite get the plan for the Columbus Blue Jackets, unless it’s to ensure another season of mediocre hockey that will leave them far removed from a playoff berth yet again.
A team that has struggled mightily to draft and develop its own players on Friday gave up three draft picks -- two fourth-round picks and a second-round pick -- for a goaltender who has given little indication he can be an NHL starter in Sergei Bobrovsky.
The Blue Jackets, who finished 28th in goals-against average, will presumably need better from Bobrovsky than he showed in his sophomore season with the Philadelphia Flyers, when he turned in a 3.02 GAA and .898 save percentage on a team with a markedly better defense than the one he will play behind in Columbus.
GM Scott Howson told reporters after the deal Friday that the goaltending market was thin and he felt he needed to make a move to improve his club.
"The market became pretty scarce; that’s a factor in the price we paid," Howson said.
The problem for the Blue Jackets is that the price they paid comes with zero guarantee they have made their lot in life better.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia GM Paul Holmgren, whose moves dominated last year’s draft period, continues to add assets, although it will be interesting to see which direction he moves to replace Bobrovsky. Will he go for a lower-priced veteran or try to obtain a younger goalie with a positive upside?
Isle of mystery
Speaking of ill-defined plans, the New York Islanders have long been a team of mystery -- or is that mystification? -- but you have to like the addition of veteran defender Lubomir Visnovsky for a second-round pick in 2013. Although he had an off year last season, two years ago Visnovsky led all NHL defensemen with 68 points, had 18 goals and was plus-18 for a Ducks team that surged in the second half of the season to make the playoffs.
Visnovsky has one year left on his contract with a $5.6 million cap hit, which will help an Islander team that regularly struggles to get to the cap floor, while his actual dollar salary next season is $3 million.
He should help an Islander power play that was already a dynamic unit, tying for seventh in productivity in the NHL last season.
Red-flag move for Caps
Interesting move by the Washington Capitals to take on Mike Ribeiro from the Dallas Stars in exchange for prospect Cody Eakin and a second-round draft pick. No disputing that Ribeiro will bring skill to a Caps team that will almost certainly be without winger Alexander Semin, who can become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Ribeiro has topped the 70-point plateau three times in the last five seasons. But he has also had off-ice issues and the Stars were rumored to be shopping him at the trade deadline even though they were in the hunt for a playoff berth.
Red flag? For a team that is still without a head coach and will be looking to redefine itself again come training camp, you bet Ribeiro represents a red flag.
The good thing for the Caps is that they aren’t exposed long-term if this experiment doesn’t work out. Ribeiro has one more year left on a contract that will pay him $5 million.
"We've got some big, gritty forwards and we wanted to put another skill guy in the middle of it to see if it helps," Washington GM George McPhee told reporters. "I think it makes our team immediately better. He's got skill, he makes plays, 60-70 points a year. Pretty good shootout guy, too."
The Caps GM confirmed he tried to obtain Ribeiro last year.
"Been after this player for a while. We got it done. Gave up a real good kid in Cody. He's going to play a long time in this league," McPhee said.