The Blue Jackets are in a state of turmoil. Nobody knows what the next few weeks or months will bring in terms of personnel changes. One thing is certain...if I was in charge I would have this ship righted in no time.
Here are the players I would trade (or at least try to) before the deadline:
1. Pahlsson - No brainer. UFA at season's end. I have been unimpressed with him since day 1. Easily replaceable in my opinion.
2. Vermette - Yes, he's having a down year but maybe we could get something halfway decent for him if other teams recognize his faceoff prowess (and perhaps the idea that he would be a better player on a better team).
3. Prospal - Love the guy, but other teams will too. Get something for him and then, if he fits into our longterm plan as a veteran, sign him back in the offseason.
4. Tyutin - Decent defenseman, but not irreplaceable. If we can unload his contract, we could sign someone of equal ability this summer for a lower price.
5. Clitsome - I like Clitsome. But he has not progressed the way we had hoped. Get something for him.
6. Boll - I would take a lot of heat for this one. However, we have similar players who could step in to his role. If we are truly looking at a major shakeup, some major players (including fan favorites) need to go to alter the chemistry.
7. Carter - Sorry, but it just hasn't worked. Granted he has been injured, but I was not impressed with his style of play, chemistry with Nash, or his work ethic/attitude. He might bring a very nice return. In fact, for what we gave up, he better.
8. Huselius - Forgot he was on this team. Get what you can for him. Waste of cap space right now.
9. Martinek - Same as Huselius.
Here are the players I would definitely keep as part of our rebuilding (I hate that word) project:
1. Nash - He is our franchise, like it or not. No one can honestly say they wouldn't want a Rick Nash on their team. I'm convinced he's part of the solution. We just need to surround him with better parts.
2. Brassard - I'm just not ready to give up on this guy. He has shown flashes of brilliance. If we trade him, he'd become an all star for another team and we'd regret moving him.
3. Dorsett - Never thought I'd say this. Before this season, he was my least favorite Jacket (congrats Pahlsson, that's now you!). But his work ethic, heart, and toughness are invaluable.
4. MacKenzie - The dude brings it every night. I think he is a perfect 4th line player.
5. Wiz - He'll be all right once he's recovered and we upgrade our blueline with a more defensive defenseman.
6. Moore - I like this kid's potential. He's played well.
7. Johan - Hopefully this kid will be as scary good as I think he could be.
8. Nikitin - I like him. I think he's solid. Let's see if he continues to improve and impress. But change his first name to simply Nik.
8. Prospects like Atkinson, Kubalik, Savard, Calvert. Let's see how they develop.
Here are the players I wouldn't mind keeping but if the right deal came along, I'd send him away.
1. Methot. Solid d-man. Wouldn't mind keeping him, but there are plenty of defensemen in the world who could step into his shoes as a #5 or #6 blueliner.
2. Umberger. Thought he was the heart and soul of the team. Haven't seen it this year. Would like to keep him and hope he regains his old form...but if there was an offer I couldn't refuse, so be it.
3. Mason - Let's give him another year or two. If there's any way to get him to the minors, do it. But if at all possible, keep him in the organization. I'm afraid if we lose him, in a few years it will come back to bite us.
4. Johnson - Decent spare part as a #7 defenseman. Makes a lot of mistakes but so do a lot of #7 defensemen.
5. Letestu - Has shown that he is serviceable. But we have had way too many "serviceable" types. If we can package him for something, do it.
Other things I'd do:
Fire Howson. He's had his shot. Time for someone else, with more experience, to take over. Make Patrick the interim GM. If he wants to stay on as permanent GM, so be it. If not, allow him to actively guide management's decision for a replacement. I would do this soon so Howson would not be in control at the trade deadline.
Allow Richards to finish the year as interim coach then have the new GM, be it Patrick or someone else, hire his choice for a replacement. I would try to make sure Dave King got an interview.
Hire a team of researchers to visit other NHL arenas and attend their home games. I'd find a model that I like and use it to change our game operations. I'm not saying our game operations is flat out bad, but if we're trying to change the culture, we might as well change the atmosphere of Nationwide Arena.
As for Priest...I'm not sure. Gun to my head, had to make a decision, I'd say let him go and find a replacement. I'm really unsure about the the amount of blame that falls on him for the disaster that is the Columbus Blue Jackets (I'd say it is more GM than president), but if we're trying to make sweeping changes, he should go too.
Bring back a former Jacket. Let's pay a little homage to some of the first Jackets' teams when there was so much hope and enthusiasm. Let's return a little piece from the good ol' days. How about Jody Shelley? If not as a player, how about as an assistant coach, TV analyst, or scout? As I mentioned earlier, how about King as coach? What about Jan Hrdina as senior director of scouting? Kidding about that one. But in all seriousness, one of the things that made the early years of the Blue Jackets existence so awesome was the connection the fans felt with the players. I can't describe it. It's hard to put it into words, but it was there. I would bring back a small part of that.
Fire Rimer. I'm sorry, but he makes the games so darn hard to watch on TV. He's way past his prime. Davidge has one choice: move back to the radio booth or be gone.
I would also sit down with Natalie Taylor and get a feel...for whether or not she should stay or go.