howsonap

Is Scott Howson the right man for Blue Jackets’ rebuild?

9 Comments

If you’ve ever stayed awake long enough in a government class, you’ve probably heard about how the U.S. presidency changes hands in a “peaceful transfer of power.”

The NHL provides some rather interesting transitions between general managers, but not every new one has a particularly placid first year or so. (Example: as much as I disagree with Jay Feaster’s general philosophy in Calgary, it’s not like former Flames GM Darryl Sutter left him with a rich set of options.)

Blue Jackets hit the reset button (again)

For all the mistakes he’s made, Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson has made things a lot better in the last week than they were before. Antoine Vermette is a nice player, but it’s hard to argue with stockpiling picks because the two-way forward simply makes more sense on a mid-level contender such as Phoenix. Jack Johnson carries many of the same flaws as Jeff Carter – really, it only makes sense that he’ll wear No. 7 in Columbus too – but getting a quality young player like him and a solid first-rounder remains impressive.

Still, the question remains: whether Rick Nash stays or goes, does Scott Howson deserve to be the architect of the next rebuild?

My instinctive response is probably the same as most: “No.”

source: APPossible parallels

That being said, I cannot help but see some parallels between Howson’s situation and that of Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray. Both read the tea leaves and cleaned house. Each received a lot of heat for their teams’ failings.

Murray’s Senators are now on the verge of a surprise playoff run and play a captivating style to boot.

Naturally, there are some differences, too. Murray’s hockey resume is much larger – and more distinguished – than Howson’s comparatively limited experience. Being far-from-loyal to coaches is one of things that spawned a lot of mockery of Murray, but he wouldn’t have been able to hire likely Jack Adams finalist Paul MacLean if he didn’t have that itchy trigger finger.

(Some call it deflecting blame; others might say he was decisive. It’s probably both.)

The man in charge in Columbus will have some appealing assets to work with next summer, especially if Howson trades Nash.

***

Obviously it would help to know which GM candidates might be available this summer, but humor us with your thoughts: is Howson worthy of a chance to rebuild the Blue Jackets? Would it be wiser to clean the slate with a bountiful stash of draft picks in the next season or so?

Report: Bruins’ Khokhlachev to sign in KHL

Montreal Canadiens v Boston Bruins
Getty
1 Comment

Alexander Khokhlachev’s time with the Boston Bruins is up, according to a report out of Russia that has the 22-year-old forward signing with SKA Saint Petersburg of the KHL.

The deal reportedly won’t be announced until after June 30; Khokhlachev is under contract with the B’s until then. But the fact he’s apparently decided to depart for the KHL should come as no surprise.

A second-round draft pick in 2011, Khokhlachev has spent the last three seasons piling up points in the AHL; however, he’s only appeared in nine NHL games.

Earlier this month, his agent told CBS Boston, “Alexander did not really get a chance for all the years that he signed a deal, for four years, the deals he signed with Boston, didn’t really get a chance to play in the National Hockey League, so he won’t stay in the organization.”

SKA acquired Khokhlachev’s KHL rights last summer.

Related: Khokhlachev just wants a chance

Jackets not expected to sign Quebec league prospect Pelletier

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 28:  Julien Pelletier meets his team after being drafted #107 by the Columbus Blue Jackets on Day Two of the 2014 NHL Draft at the Wells Fargo Center on June 28, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Julien Pelletier, the QMJHL Sherbrooke forward taken in the fourth round of the ’14 draft, is unlikely to receive an entry-level contract from the Blue Jackets, per the Columbus Dispatch.

The move would mean Pelletier could re-enter this year’s draft. The Blue Jackets have until Wednesday to decide if they want to sign him, or trade his rights to another team.

Taken five spots ahead of Viktor Arvidsson — who’s become a nice young player for Nashville — Pelletier had a solid season in Sherbrooke, finishing second on the team in goals (with 27).

This year, he was in training camp with the Jackets but sent home early.

Per the Dispatch, the Jackets are also unlikely to sign another ’14 draftee — Olivier Leblanc, who was taken in the seventh round.

‘Invigorated’ Hitch signs for one final year in St. Louis

SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 21:  Ken Hitchcock of the St. Louis Blues walks on the ice in game four of the Western Conference Finals against the San Jose Sharks during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center on May 21, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Getty
1 Comment

Ken Hitchcock is taking one last shot at winning a Stanley Cup with the St. Louis Blues.

The club announced today a one-year contract extension for the 64-year-old head coach. Hitchcock then confirmed during a press conference that 2016-17 will be his final year. He plans to retire from coaching once it’s over.

“I just feel like I’ve got this really good year in me,” Hitchcock said. “This season has invigorated me like no season before.”

The Blues, of course, made it all the way to the Western Conference Final this year. The previous four postseasons under Hitchcock, they made it to the second round once, then lost three straight times in the first round.

“This group of players, their dynamic has changed, and it’s really exciting right now,” he said.

There will be at least one change to the coaching staff. GM Doug Armstrong said today that associate coach Brad Shaw will not be back. The rest of the staff has been offered one-year extensions to match Hitchcock’s.

Now that the decision has been made on the head coach, Armstrong can turn his full attention to the roster. Getting Jaden Schwartz, a pending restricted free agent, signed to a long-term deal will be his initial focus.

As for the captain, pending unrestricted free agent David Backes, there’s interest in bringing him back, but the numbers have to make sense. Forwards Troy Brouwer, Steve Ott, Kyle Brodziak and Scottie Upshall are also UFAs.

On the back end, Kevin Shattenkirk is probably the biggest wild card. He can become unrestricted next summer, and there has been speculation he could be traded this summer. But as of right now, Armstrong expects him to be back.

Armstrong also said there’s a chance Vladimir Sobotka could return to the Blues next season. Sobotka has spent the last two years in the KHL.

However the roster looks next season, it will be interesting to see what Hitchcock can get out of it. The Blues got over a big hump in 2016, but they only got halfway to winning it all.

One thing’s for sure, though, and that’s this:

Related: Parayko’s ‘memorable’ season has extended into the playoffs

NHL explains no suspension for Marleau, says he didn’t ‘pick’ Rust’s head

15 Comments

PITTSBURGH — Shortly after reports surfaced that San Jose’s Patrick Marleau wouldn’t face supplemental discipline for his hit on Pittsburgh’s Bryan Rust in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety issued a series of tweets explaining their decision.

Following last night’s game, Marleau said he didn’t think he’d be suspended for the hit, explaining that he “kind of let [Rust] skate into me.”

“I just tried to keep everything down,” Marleau added. “I didn’t want to get too high on him.”

Marleau’s assessment was in direct contrast with Pittsburgh head coach Mike Sullivan.

“It’s a blindside hit to the head,” he said. “[Marleau] gets a penalty and I’m sure the league will look at it.”

As for Rust, Sullivan listed him as day-to-day with an upper-body injury following the contest. The hit knocked Rust out of last night’s game, and the Penguins haven’t began their off-day practice yet.

More to follow…