Tue 15 Jan 2008
The Columbus Blue Jackets might not have any big name players available via trade, but that is not stopping the New York Rangers from heavily scouting the Jackets. Even if they did have big name players who might be available, Rangers president/GM Glen Sather needs to pull off another Ã¢â‚¬Å“under-the-radarÃ¢â‚¬Â type deal Ã¢â‚¬â€œ like he did last year when he acquired Sean Avery from the Los Angeles Kings.
Aaron Portzline of The Columbus Dispatch has been writing about Rangers scouts who have been scouting the Blue Jackets rather religiously. On January 15 Portzline said sources told him that Columbus had three scouts at the Rangers-Penguins game, including their Bob Strumm, their head of professional scouting. Portzline also offered that the Jackets had scouted the Penguins-Nashville Predators game over the weekend.
While there have been rumors about the Rangers interest in David Vyborny, Portzline shifted focus to thee other forwards: Jason Chimera, Dan Fritsche and Manny Malhotra. While I have long been a fan and a mark for Malhotra, I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t see Sather bringing Malhotra back to New York. Fritsche is still only 22, and while has been slow to develop, I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t see Columbus being that interested in trading him.
That leaves Chimera and he would fit the mold of an Avery type acquisition. Even more telling, he fits the mold of Sather type acquisition. Slats drafted the Edmonton native in the fifth round (#121) of the 1997 NHL Draft. The 6-foot-2 and 206 pound Chimera is only 28-years-old and is the final year of a reasonable $1 million contract.
Chimera is an extremely fast skater who uses his speed and size to power his strong forechecking game. He is good at both ends of the ice and is a good penalty killer. While he wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t score a lot of goals, he is like Avery in the respect that they tend to come in bunches. His lack of offensive is the one thing that has kept him from elevating his game to that next level. However, he is a solid fit for the Rangers based on his skating, forechecking and penalty killing abilities.
The question becomes who do the Rangers trade? Portzline mentioned Brandon DubinskyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s name. If that is the type of player Columbus GM Scott Howson is looking for Ã¢â‚¬â€œ then he neednÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t bother returning SatherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s calls. If the Blue Jackets were willing to settle for Greg Moore then I think the Rangers would be willing to listen.
While Moore is a nice player, the Rangers do have other players in their system who can replace him. If the Rangers were to acquire Chimera, they would have some insurance in case Avery leaves as an UFA. While Chimera doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t bring the physical aspect that Avery does, he does have intangibles that would help the Rangers replace Avery.
The Rangers could expand the deal by looking into acquiring Adam Foote in the deal. The veteran blue liner is in the final year of a deal that pays him $4.6 million. While the Rangers salary cap space is limited, remember that FooteÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s deal would be prorated. Of course, Columbus would have to take Marek Malik or Paul Mara back in the deal in order to create a salary slot for Foote. The Rangers could use a veteran defensive presence on the back line to help youngsters Dan Girardi, Marc Staal and Fedor Tyutin.
UPDATE (Wednesday-1/16/08): Tom Reed of the Columbus Dispatch writes on the paper’s blog that the Blue Jackets are interested in Fedor Tyutin. He writes that the Rangers are not interested in moving him, but have made similar moves with young defensemen in the past (e.g. Mark Tinordi and Mattias Norstrom). Reed also writes that the Jackets are interested in Penguins forward Erik Christenson.
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