It's hot, over 100 degrees in Columbus. Free agency has since wound down from the July 1st frenzy and second-tier players are evaluating the market.
As my days are consumed with rounds of golf, working and following the Blue Jackets' quest to complete their roster, I can't help but think of reasons why Scott Howson may have passed on Andy Sutton.
Thrasher fans have negative comments, but what fans wouldn't be pessimistic of a tenured player opting to leave their city? I have to think some Blue Jackets fans would have less than kind words to say about Dan Fritsche if he opted for free agency sometime down the road.
What Andy Sutton brings is something that many Columbus defenseman lack: intensity, size and heart. Aside from Ole-Kristian Tollefsen and Adam Foote, the CBJ blueline looks disengaged more often than not. He is an excellent shutdown guy, and at 6'6 and 245 pounds carries an unheard of frame. Columbus has enough "offensive defenseman" in the system to convert some of them to forwards.
Speculation will take many routes, but the most likely scenario is that Sutton was looking for a longer term than Scott Howson was willing to offer. The GM has gone on record saying that he would sign players to a reasonable term, and for a reasonable amount. Based on previous contracts offered by Howson this offseason, Sutton was probably offered a one or two-year deal. Reports suggest he wanted three or four, something Howson just isn't ready to committ to.
The focus should now shift to arguably the most solid defenseman left on the market, and one who is young enough to develop even further: Ossi Vaananen. He made under $800,000 last season, and is young enough to negotiate a bargain deal with. Give him 2 years, $4 million and solidify the blueline.
It's been an interesting summer, and it isn't over yet.