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"Mike's Random Musings about hockey"
West Lafayette, IN • United States • 21 Years Old • Male
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Yesterday I blogged about how Columbus' waiting game, may help them economically. Today I'd like to take a look at who Eklund is reporting to be interested in playing for Columbus. I will look at his recent list of top 35 UFAs from July 25th.

<i>Note: I have removed Jussi Markkanen since he has signed in Europe</i>

<h3>#5. Andy Sutton</h3>
<b>Position:</b> Defense
<b>2007 Team:</b> Atlanta Thrashers
<b>Quick Bio and Analysis: </b>Andy Sutton is a 32 year old veteran from Kingston, Ontario and a Michigan Tech alumnus. He has played 432 games with 105 points in the NHL. He made $2 million last season. Sutton missed 27 games with an ankle injury last season. He has a very hard shot, but isn't the most mobile of players.
<b>Is he a good fit?</b> I think Sutton would have the potential to be a good fit. With his shot he could help create some more offense. The only downside I could see is that he may need to become a stay-at-home defenseman in Hitchcock's system.

<h3>#10 Josef Melichar</h3>
<b>Position:</b> Defense
<b>2007 Team:</b> Pittsburgh Penguins
<b>Bio and Analysis:</b> Josef Melichar is a 28 year old Defenseman from the Czech Republic. Last season he made $750k. In his NHL career, Melichar, has played 310 games, scored 7 goals, 33 assists, as well as a -26. The negative factor for these stats, could be attributed to the fact that Melichar has played for the Penguins his entire career. Last season Melichar played 70 games scored 1 goal, 11 assists, with a +1.
<b>Is he a good fit?</b> This will be a new start for Josef Melichar. A stay-at-home defenseman will be a good fit for the Blue Jackets' system. However, I do hope that Melichar can be more productive if he does end up signing with Columbus.

<h3>#12 Jason Allison</h3>
<b>Position:</b> Center
<b>2007 Team:</b> Did not play (played with Toronto in 2006)
<b>Bio and Analysis:</b> Jason Allison is a 32 year old veteran from North York, Ontario. He has played in 552 games in his NHL career, totalling 154 goals, 334 assists, 485 points with a +17. He is a great face-off center, and has the ability to see the ice well, but he does not skate well.
<b>Is he a good fit?</b> He would definately make a good addition, however he may come with a hefty price tag. Also, Allison has only played 4 of the last 7 seasons, making him somewhat of an injury-prone problem. Overall, the Jackets are hurting for some good offense, and Allison could be a spark plug.

<h3>#19 Ossi Vaananen</h3>
<b>Position:</b> Defense
<b>2007 Team:</b> Colorado Avalanche
<b>Bio and Analysis:</b> Ossi Vaananen is a 26 year-old defenseman from Finland. Last season, Vaananen made $997,500, and put up 2 goals, 6 assists and +8 in 74 games. In his NHL career, Vaananen has played 430 games, scoring 12 goals, 45 assists, 57 points, and a career +18.
<b>Is he a good fit?</b> He is a stay at home defenseman who can play well physically. However, he is very limited in the offensive front. If he could score a few more goals he may be a better asset. I don't know if I would take this risk, since he doesn't seem to be producing much in his first 6 seasons. However, his defensive style would not be a bad addition.

<h3>#20 Janne Niinimaa</h3>
<b>Position:</b> Defense
<b>2007 Team:</b> Montreal Canadiens
<b>Bio and Analysis:</b> Janne Niinimaa is a 32 year old veteran from Finland. Niinimaa made $2,508,000 last season. In his NHL career Niinimaa has played 741 games scoring 54 goals, 265 assists, 319 points, with a +43. Last season Niinimaa played 41 games, scoring 0 goals, and 3 assists, with a -13. He is a quick skater, and a great shot.
<b>Is he a good fit?</b> Niinimaa has always been a culprit of underachieving. He has had the potential to be a great power defenseman in the NHL. However, he never really has posted the numbers to back that claim. I think he would fit well, and may get better motivation from Ken Hitchcock than he has had in previous years.

<h3>#21 Jan Bulis</h3>
<b>Position:</b> Left Wing
<b>2007 Team</b> Vancouver Canucks
<b>Bio and Analysis:</b> Jan Bulis is a 29-year old left wing from the Czech Republic. Last season Bulis made $1.3 Million playing in 79 games scoring 12 goals and 11 assists. In his career Bulis has played 552 games, scored 96 goals, 149 assists, 245 points with a -3. He is a responsible defensive forward, and is skilled all-around.
<b>Is he a good fit?</b> Being a defensive forward, I don't know if I would spend the money for him. The Jackets already have a few defensive forwards already. Not to say he'd be a bad fit, because he wouldn't be, but for the plain and simple fact that the Jackets need scoring.

<b><i>Final thoughts</i></b>
Personally, I think I would go after Niinima, and/or Jason Allison. I like the aspect that Niinima adds another solid defenseman to the lineup, and Allison would add another dimension to the very uncomplicated offensive scheme. As much as I would like to see a power-forward sign with Columbus, that will have to wait until next year. The Jackets are going to succeed, but for now it is all a matter of time.

P.S. I'm still taking suggestions for this week's Retro-buzz entry
Filed Under:   blue jackets   Free Agency  
August 1, 2007 1:55 PM ET | Delete
Allison and Niinima would be cheap. I wouldn't go for them, but columbus can do whatever they want. I mean Allison can still score.
August 1, 2007 2:56 PM ET | Delete
I think most Canucks fans would take issue with your "responsible defensive forward" comment on Bulis. If this was the case, I think he would have been re-signed in a heartbeat. Bulis is in no mans land. He's not scoring enough to be a scorer, he's not forechecking hard enough to be an energy guy, he's not defensively smart enough to be a safe positional player... what is it? What is his contribution... for that kind of salary?
August 1, 2007 9:58 PM ET | Delete
Janne Niinimaa is finished. You take him, it's your funeral.
August 2, 2007 3:05 AM ET | Delete
Allsion would be a great move...Look how Nash does with Joe...Jason is a poor man's Joe (and I mean poor, don;t get me wrong). But Allison has excellent hands and vision, a setup man for Nash is needed. Sutton would be a solid addition, playing in Atlanta doesn't help his name but he is a good D-man. Would suit the West well.
August 2, 2007 7:16 AM ET | Delete
I'd say go after Vaananen or Sutton. The additional back end help is needed and gettting either the hard shot or the additional 'back up' for Leclaire/Norenna would probably be the lesser of the evils seeing as that is where the 'Jackets have struggled the past few years when the injury bug hits. It always seem to hit the D the hardest so getting a little more depth would be beneficial. Allison would be a PP specialist on this team, not a 1st line guy. Unless things have changed in the past year, he's too slow. Couple with the fact he's injury prone I think for his asking price it's not worth the risk.
August 2, 2007 7:48 PM ET | Delete
As a Thrashers fan, I would tell you that Sutton is a BIG gamble. He isn't going to be what you guys are expecting him to be, plain and simple. His upside is that he blocks a massive amounts of shots, has a pretty hard (albeit not overly accurate) shot, and is capable of throwing big hits (though he tends to try a more possitional game). As for his downsides, my Dad and I call him The Doof for a reason. He gets caught in no man's land too often and looks completely lost for games at a time. He has come a long way since we first got him and under Hitchy he may well become a high end D-man. If you could get him kinda cheap I would take it, but this is a player nobody wants to overpay.
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