Death Cab for Woody

Sunday, July 09, 2006

CBJ Summer Review – Part I

Well, another draft and summer skate at the Ice Haus been completed for the Columbus organization. Let’s take a look at where the Bluejackets stand with its lineups for the 2006 NHL Season

Potential Forward Lines

Modin – Brule – Zherdev
Nash – Fedorov – Vyborny
Chimera – Maholtra – Fritsche
Shelley – Hartigan – Picard


Top 2 Lines

"Fedorov being the Playoffs...this year...hopefully."

It is pretty much a given, barring any unforeseen injuries, that the top three lines are pretty much set with the top two lines being interchangeable parts. I am not sure if Brule is ready to handle the physical level of the NHL, but after getting watch a few of his games against the Everett Silvertips in the WHL Semis, he is a wrecking ball with a scoring touch in close similar to Dino Ciccarelli. He is not afraid to get his clocked clean and plays with a mean streak a mile wide. It will be interesting to see how he can do this upcoming season. The one thing we can all say about the first two lines is that there is now some defensive responsibility on both lines with the recent addition of Modin. Now that Dr. Hook is gone (Jan Hrdina) I wont wince when any forward (from Tie Domi to Brian Gionta) comes into the CBJ zone with anything resembling speed. Fedorov still has the wheels, but has taken more of an Yzerman approach to his game and is making sure that everything is order defensively before leaving the zone. The skill is still there and it makes an appearance from time to time, but the Fedorov we saw last year is most likely the Fedorov that will be playing for the CBJ this season. He is a bit overpriced, but the effect that he has had on Zherdev and his work ethic in the defensive zone has provided a level of leadership that past CBJ’ers Ray Whitney ( He still isn’t playing defense) and Andrew Cassels (Nice guy…terrible two-way hockey player) would never and will never be able to attain. If and when this team makes the playoffs, Fedorov will play a critical role in any success that occurs. In regards to Modin, he is a player that most people do not notice or appreciate unless he has played on or against your team in the past. A heavy shooter that will probably chip in about 25-30 goals this year, and provide even more leadership in the dressing room. Plays a great two-way game and should command a little more respect from other teams keying on the likes of Fedorov, Nash, and Zherdev.

3rd Line

"Is very bad to stand in Jason's way. Is very very bad."

The third line was pretty much set last week, as Trevor Letowski signed a free-agent contract with the Stanley Cup Champs (Carolina Hurricanes..if you have been living under a rock or prefer to watch poker on TV). This will definitely be the energy line for the team with three hard skaters possessing serviceable offensive punch in Fritsche, Chimera, and Manny Malhotra. This is the line that most Bluejackets fans will probably love this season. Chimera can put the puck in the net and skates ridiculously fast for a guy that is 200-215 lbs. He is pretty much a freight train on skates. Manny and Danny are both hard working skaters, and while Manny is really starting to blossom as a NHL player, Danny is still trying to gain the consistency needed to stay in the NHL. Getting Manny signed for another year and a providing him a decent amount of ice time, which he has not received in the past, should provide fantastic results for Manny and the franchise.
The fourth line will continue to be a “hodge-podge” of players. The players that end up on the ice will ultimately depend on the opponent for the evening. You know what you are going to get with Shelley. A blue-collar player that has worked very hard to improve his game, but let’s face it, fourth line ice time is going to be the best that Shelly will probably ever be able to get in this franchise going forward. The farm system has talent waiting to play, and the need for an enforcer is slowly going the way of the dodo. Mark Hartigan is an interesting story. Here is a career AHL’er with exceptional offensive skill, but, in the past, hasn’t been able to put it together at the NHL level. Mark did himself a great favor last season by finishing out the season on a terror, and guess what the CBJ did for him. That’s right…put him on waivers, so he could back down to Syracuse for the playoffs. Genius Doug…genius. I am still surprised he didn’t get picked up by Detroit. I know that the Detroit fans would say that he was not good enough to make its roster. Bullshit. He is a perfect Detroit-type puck possession player, who, in my opinion, is a much better player than “Bluejacket-Killer” Jason Williams. Hartigan is good enough to play on any of the top 3 lines, but will most likely play as the centre man for the 4th line to keep teams honest. Also looking to make a splash this season will be resident agitator Alexander Picard. CBJ fans love this guy already. Skates hard and will hit anyone in his path (Think of a motivated Blake Sloan with skating ability and talent…don’t think Blake Sloan after his first five minutes of ice time as a Bluejacket.). His only problem was that he turned into Robert Kron on the offensive end, and couldn’t buy a goal. Picard could also make a splash on the 3rd line, if Manny, Danny, or Chimera is struggling.

It is really nice to finally see some depth in the organization, so it is not required to bring up the first rounders to provide skill and excitement for the fans of the team. The scorig will go up this year, but I also believe that the forwards will take a little more responsibility in their own end, which should make the CBJ even more competitive for 2006.



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