Scott Howson’s Old Haunts

Jonathan Willis
May 02 2014 12:10PM

Howson, Scott

The Columbus Blue Jackets have just completed the best season in franchise history, and beat writer Aaron Portzline is reporting that there is reason to believe the team plans to be “very active” on the trade front as their offseason commences.

That could be good news for Edmonton, since few teams are better fits for the Oilers as a trading partner. Further, with former Jackets GM Scott Howson now Craig MacTavish’s top lieutenant, Edmonton is in a unique situation to evaluate the opposition club.

James Wisniewski

Porztline, in part:

[W]hen people ask if defenseman James Wisniewski … [is] going to be subject to compliance buyout this summer, I don't see it… The chances of Wisniewski getting traded are much higher than him getting bought out. Of his original deal -- six years, $33 million -- three years and $20 million have already been paid, meaning he's owed $13 million over the next three seasons. His AAV is $5.5 million.

Howson’s the guy who signed Wisniewski to his current contract, and in hindsight the criticism of it seems overblown.

Wisniewski isn’t a perfect player, but he’s a very good offensive defenceman and at age 30 he still has plenty of tread left on the tires. He logs heavy minutes in Columbus, and for most of his time with the team he’s logged those minutes without a lot of support. He’s not huge, but he does possess a considerable mean streak, and his underlying numbers are quite good.

The contract number is a little hefty for a guy who, ideally, slots into a No.2/No.3 role on an NHL depth chart, but this is a highly useful player. If the Blue Jackets are interested in moving him, there should be a spot for him in Edmonton.

R.J. Umberger

Portzline mentions R.J. Umberger in the same breath as James Wisniewski and compliance buyout, and while he makes it clear that he doesn’t believe a buyout is the way to go it is plain that Columbus would probably like it if someone came and took Umberger off their hands.

The 31-year-old still has some offensive game, has been playing tough minutes, and at 6’2”, 214 pounds adds some size to a lineup. In a perfect world, he’d be an above-average third-line winger who can also cover centre in a pinch, but his $4.6 million cap hit makes that difficult.

He gets a mention here because the Oilers need to be creative if they are to improve and Umberger, while overpriced, is a useful NHL player who would fill a very real need in Edmonton. For a team like the Blue Jackets, taking the financial commitment that goes with Umberger might be a way to sweeten a deal that otherwise wouldn’t get done.

Others!

Portzline again:

Phone calls will not be returned to any NHL GM who mentions either of the Ryans [Johansen, Murray], Boone Jenner or Sergei Bobrovsky. Defenseman Jack Johnson and center Brandon Dubinsky are seen as core players, too. But Kekalainen wants desperately to boost this club's pure skill level.

There are lots of interesting pieces outside that list of core players.

Nikita Nikitin, a pending unrestricted free agent, would be an awfully nice fit on the Oilers’ third pairing. He brings size (6’4”, 223 pounds), puck-moving ability (32 points in 61 games in 2011-12) and fell out of favour this year after playing top-four minutes the last two seasons.

Artem Anisimov, the 6’4” centre who came over with Dubinsky in the Rick Nash trade, doesn’t get a mention as a core player. At 25, he’s in the prime of his career and has played reasonably tough mintues with solid results the last few years.

Blake Comeau’s another interesting name. The 6’1”, 202 pound winger had 46 points as recently as 2010-11 and managed 16 this year despite being buried on the depth chart and recording a shooting percentage less than half his career average. The Oilers need better bottom-six forwards and the pending UFA could well fit the bill – and almost certainly wouldn’t break the bank.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
Avatar
#51 RexHolez
May 02 2014, 05:54PM
Trash it!
7
trashes
Cheers
24
cheers

It's really sad when you're team is so bad you have columnists suggest you trade for Wisniewski.

Avatar
#52 oil leak
May 02 2014, 08:05PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
5
cheers

When I read this I could not help but think a Lander for umberger deal.

Of course Landers potential is off the table nods to hb for the reference

Avatar
#53 spliff
May 02 2014, 08:44PM
Trash it!
6
trashes
Cheers
27
cheers

When I read these blogs on who we should trade for and possible trade scenarios etc, I quickly lose interest, because we hardly have anything any team wants, and what we do have won't be traded because MacT won't trade them.

I used to be optimistic with this team, especially at the start of the 2013-14 season, but now I am prepared and expecting to be let down. I'm sure we will end up with more Ference-type UFA signings and more of the same mediocre BS. If and when we do make the playoffs, it meaning fighting it out to get into 8th place, like all of the MacT-KLowe playoff teams of the past (long long ago). And when we do make the playoffs MacT and KLowe will feel redemption and justification and act like they have proven that they knew what they were doing the whole time.

Thats what I fear will happen.

Avatar
#54 OilDieHard
May 02 2014, 09:11PM
Trash it!
8
trashes
Cheers
4
cheers
lightsout wrote:

Hall-Nuge-E.Kane Yak-Anisimov- perron Setoguchi-cotourier-Bickell Gazdic/Hendricks-boyle/gordon-pilick horak

Klefbom-schultz marincin-orpik Nikitin-Ference Fraser

Scrivens Fasth

Eberle for Kane+...adds intensity and grit in top 6 that eberle doesn't provide Gagner+ for Anisimov...adds size and skill in top 6 . Also fellow Russian for yak to develop. Petry+ for cotourier.(adds depth and third line players who can move up with injuries) Trade picks or prospects for bickell. Chicago needs to dump cap to sign kane and toews next year(maybe go for Hjarlmarson or oduya)

Sign in FA Orpik 5 years @ 5 mil Nikitin (5 years @ 2.5-3 mil) Setoguchi (3 years 3 mil) Boyle (3 years 1.75 mil)

so adding bottom end d-men Orpik and Nikitin to Klefbom, Marincin, Ference, Schultz and Fraser will solve our defensive problems?

Avatar
#55 shinigami
May 03 2014, 02:04AM
Trash it!
10
trashes
Cheers
14
cheers
spliff wrote:

When I read these blogs on who we should trade for and possible trade scenarios etc, I quickly lose interest, because we hardly have anything any team wants, and what we do have won't be traded because MacT won't trade them.

I used to be optimistic with this team, especially at the start of the 2013-14 season, but now I am prepared and expecting to be let down. I'm sure we will end up with more Ference-type UFA signings and more of the same mediocre BS. If and when we do make the playoffs, it meaning fighting it out to get into 8th place, like all of the MacT-KLowe playoff teams of the past (long long ago). And when we do make the playoffs MacT and KLowe will feel redemption and justification and act like they have proven that they knew what they were doing the whole time.

Thats what I fear will happen.

So youre bashing craig mactavish for getting 2 goalies who each have the potential to be a satrter, 2nd line lw in perron who scored 28 goals goals for us, the dubnyk for hendricks deal and smid for 2 prospects. You clearly dont know what gms do. theres no who will trade a solid player at the trade deadline to a bottom feeder for picks,prospects or risky players.

Mac-t has been gm for a year and done more than than tambellini did the few years he was here.

"because we hardly have anything any team wants, and what we do have won't be traded because MacT won't trade them."

Yes we hardly have anything of value right now to land a top d-man or forward. It wouldnt make sense to trade eberle who is the only player we have that other teams are interested because then we would have a good d-man and no RWs. yakupov on the top line with joensuu on the second? thats dumb.

we will have valuable players in the future to trade if youve followed our prospects at all. This team needs depth and our scouts are finally beginning to draft well with guys like pitlick,klefbom,marincin,nurse,yakimov,fedun,gernat, and others.Our own AHL team actually helps with the development which we havent had for long. we also bought an echl team which will help develop our prospects even more. mac-t is bringing in some of the top overage prospects. we recently signed the leading scorer in the whl.

If you have no faith its because you dont really follow hockey that much. We will be good when we have depth like chi,pit and det so we can actually make trades and develop prospects properly instead of the rushing them route.

we still need a 3rd and 4th line. it will probably take 2-3 years to be a playoff team. mac-t has and will continue to build this team.

our fans dont even realise how young the team is and that we have the best or second best LW in the game right now producing without a real team to back him up. theyre all young. mac-ts gt this. have faith.

Avatar
#56 spliff
May 03 2014, 06:20AM
Trash it!
4
trashes
Cheers
18
cheers

@shinigami

Whatever dude. Justify all you want, but the bottom line is this organization sucks, and has for a long time. I've been a fan of this team for almost 40 years, "so I think I know a thing or two" about hockey.

MacT's end of year press conference was a disgrace and made apparent the cronyistic nature of this organization, which has created an acceptable level of mediocrity. Look at the teams that make the playoffs consistently - they don't f*ck around and are highly competitive well-run organizations. Look at the teams that don't make the playoffs consistently - and they are all sub-par. The funny thing is at least the non-playoff teams aren't spending huge coin like the Oilers, which makes our current management group even more of a disgrace. Winning organizations don't keep un-qualifed assistant coaches around because they are "links to the past" or whatever BS MacT said. Its a joke.

Denial ain't a river in Egypt.

Avatar
#57 oil leak
May 03 2014, 09:20AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
5
cheers
ColourMeImpressed wrote:

C'mon, Willis.

30 is when defencemen start hitting the wall. Don't claim "plenty of tread" left on that tire.

Maybe some tread and some belt, but not tread.

So its too risky to draft a damn in top 5 cause they take to long to develop and we shouldn't get one that's 30 cause they are done at 30.

Didn't realize dmen had such a short life span

Avatar
#58 oil leak
May 03 2014, 09:40AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
ColourMeImpressed wrote:

C'mon, Willis.

30 is when defencemen start hitting the wall. Don't claim "plenty of tread" left on that tire.

Maybe some tread and some belt, but not tread.

So its too risky to draft a damn in top 5 cause they take to long to develop and we shouldn't get one that's 30 cause they are done at 30.

Didn't realize dmen had such a short life span

Avatar
#59 Sorensenator
May 03 2014, 11:12AM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Cheers
2
cheers

D men are at their peak at 30. Most start to hit a wall around 33-34 and go down from there.

Orpik is not a bottom end d man, that is utter ridiculousness to suggest that. Nor is Nikitin.

Both are top four on most teams with Orpik being a defense specialist.

Avatar
#60 TigerUnderGlass
May 03 2014, 11:35AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

Ahem, adding Ryan Whitney to that list changes the ambiance considerably.

Keep up the good work Jonathan. Always enjoyable to see your passion for the game on display. Can we do the Flyers next, please. There;s some curb appeal there.

Whitney came here during his 26 year old season and left after his 29 year old season.

Am I missing something? You think age is the problem with Ryan Whitney?

Avatar
#61 TigerUnderGlass
May 03 2014, 11:36AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers
oil leak wrote:

So its too risky to draft a damn in top 5 cause they take to long to develop and we shouldn't get one that's 30 cause they are done at 30.

Didn't realize dmen had such a short life span

Like north-south running backs I guess.

Avatar
#62 shinigami
May 03 2014, 01:01PM
Trash it!
6
trashes
Cheers
5
cheers
spliff wrote:

Whatever dude. Justify all you want, but the bottom line is this organization sucks, and has for a long time. I've been a fan of this team for almost 40 years, "so I think I know a thing or two" about hockey.

MacT's end of year press conference was a disgrace and made apparent the cronyistic nature of this organization, which has created an acceptable level of mediocrity. Look at the teams that make the playoffs consistently - they don't f*ck around and are highly competitive well-run organizations. Look at the teams that don't make the playoffs consistently - and they are all sub-par. The funny thing is at least the non-playoff teams aren't spending huge coin like the Oilers, which makes our current management group even more of a disgrace. Winning organizations don't keep un-qualifed assistant coaches around because they are "links to the past" or whatever BS MacT said. Its a joke.

Denial ain't a river in Egypt.

"Whatever dude. Justify all you want, but the bottom line is this organization sucks, and has for a long time. I've been a fan of this team for almost 40 years, "so I think I know a thing or two" about hockey."

Yes it does suck at the moment but we havent had this kind of potential in a long time. i wasnt justifying it. im stating obvious facts. of course we're not gonna win with a a top 4 defence core with less than 500 games experience. thyre going to be good but theyre young. i dont know why fans expect to win with this team.

you sound like kevin lowe. you bash him but say youve been a fan for 40 years so you know more. by that logic kevin lowe must be a genius.

You said you expected to win last year and expectations were high... if you knew anything about hockey you wouldve know that we had no chance. mac-t made this team better and we went close to .500 after the olympic break. you clearly dont know as much as you think you do. youre just an average fan who doesnt follow prospects or anything in the organization.

comments like "old boys club","assistant coaches" and trivial BS like that is retarded. Its the team on the ice. firing assistant coaches doesnt turn any of our d-men into #1s.

Avatar
#63 spliff
May 03 2014, 06:06PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
2
cheers
shinigami wrote:

"Whatever dude. Justify all you want, but the bottom line is this organization sucks, and has for a long time. I've been a fan of this team for almost 40 years, "so I think I know a thing or two" about hockey."

Yes it does suck at the moment but we havent had this kind of potential in a long time. i wasnt justifying it. im stating obvious facts. of course we're not gonna win with a a top 4 defence core with less than 500 games experience. thyre going to be good but theyre young. i dont know why fans expect to win with this team.

you sound like kevin lowe. you bash him but say youve been a fan for 40 years so you know more. by that logic kevin lowe must be a genius.

You said you expected to win last year and expectations were high... if you knew anything about hockey you wouldve know that we had no chance. mac-t made this team better and we went close to .500 after the olympic break. you clearly dont know as much as you think you do. youre just an average fan who doesnt follow prospects or anything in the organization.

comments like "old boys club","assistant coaches" and trivial BS like that is retarded. Its the team on the ice. firing assistant coaches doesnt turn any of our d-men into #1s.

When you have not made the playoffs in 8 years, and have the worst winning percentage of any NHL team since the lockout, and were recently ranked 121st out of 122 on a study ranking the managerial competence of professional sports teams - then nothing in trivial.

Every little detail matters in the super competitive NHL, and having the most competent coach and assistant coach you can possibly get does matter - big time. The Oilers have a horrible record in player development, and this is directly linked to player development.

When MacT made is comments at the end of year press conference about justifying Bucky's job on the Oilers, I instantly lost a ton of respect for him. It was a BS disgrace of a news conference, and highlighted all that is wrong with this organization. The patience has run out - they need to start delivering NOW. If Bucky and KLowe and Dallas and the whole gang suddenly lead the Oilers into the playoff this year then I take it all back. I want playoff hockey, and soon, because its been too long and when 16 teams in a 30 team league make the playoffs, a teams managerial group should be able to ice a playoff team more then once every 9 years. Think about this - if these guys were in any other market (except the NYI) they would be out of a job, and justifiably so.

Comments are closed for this article.