It's time for all CBJ fans to be honest about this season. The play-offs are only possible in a drug induced hallucination. It's time to begin looking towards next season. With that in mind, I have a few suggestions for how to increase the Jackets' chances to make the play-offs in next year's realigned league.
1) Fire Scot Arniel ASAP. It is obvious that Arniel is an excellent AHL coach, just as Giroux is an excellent AHL forward. Meaning that neither of them belongs in the NHL. While I agree with Jeff, over at TMM, that hiring the right coach is more important than hiring any coach, I would also argue that the Jackets already have an excellent candidate under contract in Todd Richards. Whether Richards, or someone else, getting rid of Arniel before he does irreparable harm to such developing players as Johanson, Moore, Savard, etc. is imperative.
2) Get a goalie. While Sanford is a top flight back up goalie, that's exactly what he is. A back up. Mase may, eventually, fulfill his promise, but it won't be in Union Blue. And Dex is, at this time, untried at the NHL level. We don't need a star quality goalie, just one who can do the job until Dex or York is ready to take over.
3) Release/trade two of the following: Dorse, Boll, Bass. No team needs 3 "energy" players. One is enough. Bass has done nothing to help the team and Boll and Dorse are, essentially, the same player. Thankfully, Bass is in Springfield (for now), but removing two of these players creates openings for the skill players required to win in the NHL.
4) Trade, release or send down Johnson. Johnson is nothing more than another Kris Russell with less talent. Enough said.
5) Trade Pahlsson and Ice. Nice guys, contributed nicely to the team, but no longer required. Get whatever is possible for them and move on.
6) Bring up Mayorov, Atkinson and Savard. These guys are the future of the team. Yes, they're going to make rookie mistakes. Yes, some of those mistakes are going to cost goals and games. But since the season is already a wash, giving them plenty of ice time is only going to improve their play for next year.
7) Get Vinnie P signed for next year. Is there much doubt that, through the first third of the season, Prospal has been the team MVP? Yes, I know his habit of following a good year with a so-so year. He would still be valuable as a mentor for younger players and will contribute on ice.
8) Extend Scott Howson's contract. Give credit where credit is due. SH has made very few mistakes since being brought on board. No GM is ever perfect and Howson's successes far outweigh his failures. Time to reward him and provide a certain amount of stability. While even a contract extension does not provide a guarantee against being fired, it will offer SH assurance that ownership believes he's guiding the team in the right direction which, in turn, will make him more likely to keep making the moves which will improve this team (Like handing Arniel his walking papers.).