In the past few days, I've been kind of thinking about how the Jackets are going to fare this season. Sure, they haven't signed all that much, and that angers me as much as the next guy. However, if you stop and smell the roses, you would be amazed at how Columbus might be better off by just waiting one more year. Because the Jackets didn't spend millions to get big names in Columbus, doesn't mean this off-season is a waste, but more an economic gain.
With the arms race out in the Atlantic Division, the Rangers, Devils, and Flyers won't have a lot of cap room to work with next offseason. In the Northeast division, the Bruins and Senators will not have a lot to spend either. That eliminates 5 perennial major players in the Free Agency market. All 5 teams have made deals that have put them close to the cap. Also I should mention that the UFA market next year will be a much stronger one than this year's. Let me showcase a few of these UFAs: Ilya Bryzgalov (ANA), Joe Sakic (COL), Jason Williams (CHI), David Legwand (NSH), Cory Stillman (CAR), and Cristobal Huet (MTL).
So what does this mean for the Jackets? Next off-season, Jackets will lose the following to UFA, given no player re-signs: Adam Foote, Sergei Fedorov, David Vyborny, Jody Shelley, Jason Chimera, Ron Hainsey, and Zenon Konopka. Let's say they at least re-sign David Vyborny. With that being said, the Jackets eliminate $10 million of cap room after next season if Fedorov and Foote do not return. Furthermore, you can assume that the Jackets will have at least $15-20 million to work with, given they do not sign each of their own UFAs (who can sign them all anymore?). With that money the Jackets can go out and get a big name player, or even have some money to play at with at the trade deadline if the Jackets look like they can make a playoff run this year.
Being frugal here is really a great idea. I want to see a good Jackets team as much as the next guy, but I ultimately think Hitchcock and Howson know what they are doing. By not jumping the gun and signing big names, Howson has left him self a lot of opportunities to fix problems during this seaon and next off-season. I guess Howson must be a fan of <i>Rounders</i> adhering to Matt Damon's advice: "Always leave yourself outs".
P.S. I'm still taking requests for this week's Retro-Buzz article.