TRADE WINDS….

Yesterday Scott Howson joined a long list of GMs who were forced to trade away a star player and then be criticized because they didn’t get enough in return. Make no mistake Howson was dealing from a position of weakness. The minute a star player’s trade demands go public his value goes down.

Some were comparing the Mike Richards trade to Nash, but  they aren’t the same. Richards didn’t ask to be dealt and that’s why Paul Holmgren was able to get Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn, but the Kings still won that deal.

When you trade the best player it is hard not to lose the trade, and even though Nash isn’t a superstar, the Rangers won the deal. The only way the deal will even out is if Tim Erixon turns into a top-two defender, or the late first rounder develops into someone similar to Jordan Eberle.

But is Howson done dealing?

With the addition of Erixon, Howson now has eight D-men, and considering his lack of offence, it isn’t hard to assume he’s open to offers that include a scoring forward.

JACKETS BLUELINE

James Wisniewski: $5.5 million cap hit, with a NMC that becomes a modified NTC in 2013. The 28-year-old has five years left on his deal and at that price he’ll be hard to move.

Fedor Tyutin: He has a NMC clause that switches to a modified NTC in 2015 and his new six-year, $27 million deal starts this year. He’s 29 and a solid 2nd pairing defender.

Jack Johnson: Was acquired late last year for Jeff Carter and he has six years left as a $4.35 million cap hit. He’s rumoured to be the next Captain of the Jackets, and it’s doubtful Howson would move him.

Adrian Aucoin: The 39-year-old signed a one-year, $2 million deal this summer that includes a NMC. At his age, he’ll likely only be attractive as a deadline rental.

Nikita Nikitin: Has a new two-year deal with a $2.15 million cap hit. He’ll be a #4 with the Jackets. He quietly racked up 32 points for the Jackets last season and at 26 the Jackets feel he is just starting to get comfortable. He’d be attractive to some teams.

Tim Erixon: He is entering the 2nd year of his ECL at a $1.75 million cap hit, but his base salary is only $900,000. At 21 he’s already with his 3rd organization. He shunned the Flames after they drafted him 23rd overall in 2009 and was dealt to the Rangers last year. Some think he was the key "future" piece of the Nash deal, so I wonder if Howson will want to keep him for a few years.

John Moore: He was taken two spots ahead of Erixon in the 2009 draft, and is entering his 2nd full season with the Jackets with a low $965,000 cap hit. He struggled in his own end at times last year, but they like his size. He was a puck-mover in the USHL and OHL, and they hope once he gets more comfortable in the NHL he’ll be a solid prospect. He shoots left, and isn’t very physical. I wonder if there is room for him and Erixon long-term.

David Savard: Another 2009 draft pick. He was the 94th pick that year, and while he doesn’t have the first round status of Erixon and Moore, he’s progressed nicely. He’s a solid all-around D-man who moves the puck well. He’s developed quicker than expected and many scouts around the league are high on him. He shoots right, which makes him even more intriguing.

Ryan Murray: He hasn’t signed with the Jackets yet, but rumblings are that he is close. He’s ready for the NHL, but considering how bad the Jackets handled Ryan Johansen last year I’m not sure it is a guarantee he’ll play in Columbus this year. Murray would have huge trade value, but I don’t see Howson moving a potential franchise D-man.

BEST BETS

I think Murray and Johnson are untouchable at this moment. Wisniewski’s contract is unattractive to most teams, and it sounds like Howson is leery of dealing a solid defender like Tyutin, unless he gets a legit top-six forward in return.

Nikitin, Erixon, Moore and Savard are all young with varying degrees of upside. Would the Oilers move Magnus Paajarvi or Ales Hemsky for one of them? Would you?

RANDOM THOUGHTS

  • Rick Nash is a star, but he isn’t a superstar. He never made anyone better in Columbus and with only one 70-point season in his career it is a stretch to suggest he’ll be a consistent top-ten scorer in New York. He’s a goal scorer, not a playmaker so I won’t be surprised to see him score 40-45 goals with Brad Richards, but he is not someone you build your team around.
     
  •  18 players were scheduled to go to arbitration and so far 16 of them signed prior to their arbitration hearing. Only Anton Stralman (July 31st, Rangers) and Dale Weise (July 27th, Vancouver) have yet to agree to a new deal. I’m assuming those two will agree before their dates as well, and the arbitrators will have a free summer.  With no one going to arbitration, does that mean the players and owners are closer than we think? Probably not, but like all of you I’m hoping for a season and I’m looking for any positive sign that the season will start on time.
     
  • The Preds have until tomorrow to match the Flyers 14-year, $110 million offer sheet to Shea Weber. David Poile has two options. Negotiate another deal with the Flyers that will give him something better than four 1st rounders, or match the offer. After a phone call this morning to a source in Nashville I’m leaning towards them matching the offer because it sounds like there hasn’t been any trade talk between the Preds and Flyers. Lots can change in the final 24 hours, but I’ll be shocked if they don’t match. Unless the Preds get two players who can play this year, I’d match the offer. If they let him walk, the Preds will be stuck in hockey purgatory. Not good enough to compete, but not bad enough to be a lottery team.
     
  • One of my new favourite segments on my show is our Elite Sportswear Coach of the week. Parents or kids can nominate their coach via email, gregor@theteam1260.com. Tell me what makes him or her a great coach, and they can win a great prize package from Elite and be interviewed on the show. If you know a coach who goes above and beyond let me know. Individual or team sport.

SPEC’S DECK II

**Latvian Fire Jumping from last year’s party.***

One of the best deck parties of the summer will go down August 17th. Last year I came up with an idea to raise money for charity, while including a great night out. We hatched the idea Spec’s Deck, where my good buddy from Sportsnet, Mark Spector, would a party on his deck.

It was a great succes, so we are doing it again.

Here’s the details…

On Friday August 17th, we will be doing my show from Spec’s deck, and we’ll have five lucky winners, along with three of their friends, join us for a hell of a party.

The contest works like this. You donate $100 to help end MS and you get in the draw. We will have FIVE winners and we cap it at 100 entries. You can enter as many times as you wish. $100 gets you one entry, $200 gets you two and so one. Last year we sold out in less than three weeks, so if you want to win, get on it.

Here is what you get:

Prestige Limos will pick you up, (Each group of four has one pick up spot) and take you to Spec’s deck in style.

Vons Steak House and Oyster Bar will be catering the event. BBQ steak, chicken, potatoes, veggies, etc…And Oysters.

Big Rock will supply beer all night long and in the Limo.

Andrew Peller will supply the wine, because us sports guys are a dignified group.

Yellow Cab will ensure everyone gets home safe and sound. They, like me, don’t want anyone drinking and driving.

The party will start around 4 p.m. and last for as long as we like. Robin Brownlee, Ryan Rishaug, Jason Strudwick and maybe even Wanye will be there. I’ve also secured two SPECIAL GUESTS. Two NHL players will spend the evening sharing stories and probably listening to "how you were this close to making the show."

We will also have musician, Brett Kissel, playing on Spec’s deck. The Deck is currently being renovated by the fine folks at The Deck Store so it will be even bigger and better than last year.

This will be a great evening of fun, laughs and good times.

 A huge thank you to all the sponsors and good luck.

You can enter by clicking Gregorridesforms.ca