Columbus scouts eyeing a pair of Leafs


    Here’s an interesting little excerpt from Eric Smith’s (Columbus Blue Jackets Blogger) blog over at Hockeybuzz, (props to TML35 for the heads up) that might spur a little armchair GM fantasizing:

    “With the 2-0 start to the season hinging road trip, Howson looks like he is sharpening his pencil and putting the wheels in motion for a trade. The Jackets have 2 scouts in Toronto tonight and is a place where Howson might be able to pull off a 2 for 1 trade. Needing a center in a bad way Nik Antropov‘s name comes up in conversation. He would be a fit for the short term and if he fits in maybe for longer. Antropov will be a UFA at the end of the year. Antropov makes slightly over $2 million a year and will be expecting a raise on his next contract. The other player that has been strongly mentioned is Pavel Kubina. He is a right handed shot from the blue line that certainly wouldn’t hurt the Jackets power play efforts. He currently has 8 goals and 19 points with 5 of the goals and 10 of the points coming on the power play. He does make $5 million a year until the end of next season. That is the one big part that would make this team reluctant to pull the trigger on Kubina.

    Who goes back in return? Would Pascal Leclaire be part of this trade? Would one of the young guns be part of the trade, say Jakub Voracek? The Maple Leafs are in the mode of rebuilding and under a youth movement. Especially with Brian Burke now at the wheel, he wants to put his stamp on this club sooner rather than later. Burke is always a guy that is known to be a bit of a wheeler and dealer. We will see.”

    Very interesting. From the picture at the top, the message if fairly loud and clear. The Jackets have done enough bottom feeding and want to pull out all stops in order to get into the postseason, satisfy the fanbase, and generate some much needed revenue. We saw a similar situation a few years back in Atlanta where they paid premium prices for the likes of Zhitnik and Tkachuk to get that 1st ever playoff appearance. So now might be a great time for Burke to cash in a few assets for big returns and load up for a very deep 2009 draft class.

    Let’s start with Nik Antropov. He’s a useful two-way, multi-purpose player who can pot you 30 goals and 60 points. He provides plenty of versatility, can play in all situations, and may mesh in nicely with superstar Rick Nash. In addition, his size, physicality and long reach would welcome in Hitchcock’s defensive system. How’d he do tonight? 15 minutes TOI, saw time on the PP and PK, recorded 4 shots, 1 hit, 2 giveaways and was a -1. With Stajan out due to injury, he was also given the opportunity to play center tonight and showed that he could handle it by winning 53% of the draws.

    And Pavel Kubina? He’s big, reliable two-way defenseman that can give you 20+ minutes a night. Of the 6 top minute loggers on the Jackets defense, the eldest is Jan Hejda who is only 30 years of age and has zero playoff experience. Kubina’s got leadership ability, playoff experience, a Stanley Cup ring, along with the ever-coveted booming right handed powerplay bomb from the point. In fact, it was pointed out earlier this evening that he’s now scored 15 goals over his last 58 regular season games. He carries a hefty $5M price tag, but the Jackets with over $6M in cap space are one of the few teams who can afford to take him on. Kubina played a decent game tonight, with nearly 26 minutes TOI, with time on the PP and PK, recording 3 shots, 1 hit and 2 giveaways.

    I’m just speculating here, but if I were one of the two Columbus scouts at the ACC tonight, I give Howson a call and ask him what he thinks about Ian White. White’s been quietly having an excellent season for the Toronto Maple Leafs, with 9 points in 26 games played and a team leading +7 rating. He’s averaged well over 20 minutes a night over his last 10 games played. Tonight, he was big-time stat stuffer on the gamesheet. Ian White led all Leafs with twenty six, yes TWENTY SIX minutes of ice time tonight. He had an assist, 3 shots, 1 takeaway, no giveaways, and 3 blocked shots. That’s one heckuva game. Another righthanded powerplay quarterback with a good point shot. Maybe that’s something to think about.

    And if I’m Burke, I’m drooling at the prospect of a potential deal with Columbus. The GM’s got a bit of added pressure to make the playoffs, and he’s got a ton of attractive chips to play with. Team Canada junior defenseman Cody Goloubef, bluechip forward prospects Nikita Filatov and Jakub Voracek, goaltender Pascal Leclaire, hulking defenseman Marc Methot and of course draft picks just to name a few.

    What are your thoughts? Let’s throw around a few trade proposals in anticpation of the trading season!

    Always a pleasure,

    Alex Tran

    [email protected]