Yesterday the Columbus Blue Jackets beat writer Aaron Portzline took a page out of Elliotte Friedman’s book and posted a version of “30 Thoughts,” called “61 Thoughts,” entirely on Rick Nash and his departure. It’s fantastic.
Later in the day I’ll be doing a “Thoughts on Thoughts” piece that sifts through it, but for now, I wanted to start with something he mentioned that’s been on my mind ever since I heard that Nash wanted out of Dodge: who in blue hell is going to represent Columbus at the 2013 All-Star Game that’s…in Columbus? (Fittingly, players refer to playing in Columbus as “Blue Hell.”)
Their roster actually isn’t all that bad, they’re just devoid of a first line (not a small problem, I suppose). I mean, beyond not having any true top-end talent, I’d go as far as to say I think it’s a pretty decent group. But the All-Star Game is solely about top-end talent, and they have none. And when the game is in your barn, you gotta have someone.
Here’s what Portzline had to say on the Rick Nash factor:
No. 21 = If the Blue Jackets have one or two players in the All-Star Game this year – there will be a hyooooodge push by the organization to get fans to stuff the ballot box, so get ready – the return of Nash will be a mildly awkward celebration of him coming back to his NHL birthplace. The local peeps could probably deal with that. If the Blue Jackets struggle out of the gate, get no ballot-box stuffing from their fans, and don’t have an All-Star, Nash’s return will be terribly uncomfortable – not for Nash, but for the organization. Nash will have been confirmed in his decision to ask for the trade. To be clear, it’s highly unlikely the NHL would allow the host city to not have an All-Star. But the whole world with be watching, with strong opinions as to whether it’s truly deserved or not.
Okay, so let’s say the hyoodge push works, and Blue Jackets get someone in the game. Realistically, here are your only conceivable options:
Vinny Prospal: I know, I know, if I have to lead with “Vinny Prospal,” you’re already aware this is going to be awkward or hilarious, depending on how cruel you are. The 37 year old played every game last year, and scored 55 points, only scoring 16 times.
Sergei Bobrovsky/Steve Mason: People love goalies, I guess? Neither goalie cracked the prestigious .900 save percentage barrier last year (kidding, league average was .914), but they’re both young, so maybe one of them will fulfill their potential. (They have that, right? I mean Mason won a Calder…)
James Wisniewski: The Wiz had 27 points in 48 games as a defenseman last year – that could potentially put him near a 50-point pace if he could get out to that kind of start. Combine that with some solid D and a lot of minutes….boom. NHL All-Star.
Jack Johnson: Johnson is pretty universally regarded by the advanced stat community as terrible, but he’s got name recognition, youth, and will likely play a bigger role with CBJ next season. Is being a career minus-85 good?
Derek Brassard: Reaching a little bit now, but the guy is only 24 and could break out from his 41 point campaign last year.
Anyway, you get the point. Unless Columbus trades for a big name sometime before next season, seeing who they decide to be the guy worth stuffing the ballot box for is going to be hilarious. And if Rick Nash makes it…awkward. But hey, there’s one upside – this is RJ Umberger’s best shot yet!