It’s no secret that to really compete for a playoff spot, the CBJ need at least a #1 center and a #1 d-man. And although some of the prospects in the system may one day fill those roles, there’s honestly nothing in the cupboard for 2007-08. So do they try to fill those holes now or not? And if so, how?
With the UFA route presumably more or less closed off because of budgetary concerns and a poor track record of free agent signings, a trade or trades are really the only option. And if Doug were still in charge, I’d pretty much guarantee a trade involving at the very least the first round pick in this draft. His neck would be on the line, and of course it would just be Doug’s style to make a big splash in front of the home fans by making a big trade.
With Doug gone, I’ve been assuming that the Jackets will not make a major deal involving their first round pick, that Howson will essentially have a mulligan on this season. This would be the year to see what the Jackets can do with a full year of Hitch behind the bench and some minor changes around the edges. Maybe enough to sneak into the postseason, but if not, hey, it’s still mostly the team Doug built. There will be way more room to maneuver going into 2008-09, when the Foote and Fedorov contracts come off the books.
Michael Arace thinks a deal may still be forthcoming at the draft, however. This’ll be interesting to see.