Danny Briere of the Philadelphia Flyers is the third leading scorer in the history of the Springfield Falcons. Yes, that Danny Briere. Yes, those Springfield Falcons. Briere played in Springfield for parts of four seasons from 1997-2001. Yet to find the scoring touch he now exhibits, he paid his dues here in Springfield. Back in 2003, the Coyotes were sellers at the deadline, sending Briere to Buffalo where he really became a breakout star in the National Hockey League. Let's talk about some top level prospects of the Blue Jackets that could enhance a deal.
Let's take a look at the New York Rangers in the summer of 2009. Looking to unload a huge contract to Scott Gomez, the Rangers were able to make a deal with the Montreal Canadiens that saw Christopher Higgins come to the Rangers as the NHL name in the deal. A perceived "throw in" was Ryan McDonagh. McDonagh had been heralded as a Montreal defenseman of the future. The Canadiens had used their first round pick on him in the 2007 draft. He was called up by the Rangers in early January and has become a steady defender for the Blueshirts ever since.
Falcons that could sweeten a deal:
Here are five members of the Falcons who might see a change of scenery before the deadline:
Dane Byers - Byers came to Springfield in the trade that sent Chad Kolarik to the New York Rangers. Byers was AHL Hartford's captain at the time. In his 46 games with the Falcons, Dane has 9 goals and 15 assists. His physical style of play, his maturity and his leadership could make him a candidate to move.
Jonathan Sigalet - Since Grant Clitsome's callup to the Jackets, Sigalet has stepped up and become a solid blueliner for the Falcons. The 25 year old is at a crossroads in his career. He's logged over 330 AHL games and just 1 in the NHL (2007 with Boston). At this point, I have to believe if the Jackets' master plan included Jonathan, he would have at least been called up once since 2008.
Kyle Wilson - Kyle joined Columbus as a free agent this season, signing a one year deal after leaving the Washington Capitals organization. In 31 games with the Jackets, he had 4 goals and 7 assists while averaging over 10 minutes of ice time a game. The odd man out after Matt Calvert's callup, Wilson has returned to the AHL and has flourished for the Falcons. In 16 games, Wilson has 11 goals and 7 assists.
Nick Holden - An early season call up by Columbus, Nick's defense has shown steady improvement all season. Clitsome and Moore have been the defenders of choice on recent recalls. Holden could find himself going elsewhere, if his game meshes with another club's needs.
Nikita Filatov - Expectations have always been high for Filly. Unfortunately, he has yet to live up to those expectations. One thing to keep in mind is that he is still only 20 years old. My personal comparison is in having seen the similarly aged Jordan Eberle and Matt Calvert both play here. Comparing those three and their level of play, Filatov neither in Columbus, nor Springfield has exhibited the skill set that earned him his contract with the Jackets. Case in point of the Jekyll and Hyde that is Nik Filatov. In Tuesday's loss to Manchester, Filly made a no-look pass that nobody in the building expected. Even the players on both teams, as the behind the back feed dribbled slowly from the top of the face off circle in the Manchester zone all the way to center ice. The puck was completely untouched for at least three seconds. A definite "did he really do that?" moment. Then the next night in Worcester, Filly buried a sweet one timer on a 2 on 1 break that was one of the best goals I've seen all season. Will he ever find his game? Only time will tell.
I would like to think that Scott Howson is committed to the future of the Blue Jackets in such a way that none of these guys would be available:
Tom Sestito - Columbus fans got a good look at the physical play of the 6'5" Sestito a couple of months ago. Tom brings to the ice a nice scoring touch in addition to being able to defend himself and his teammates.
John Moore - The first pick of the Blue Jackets in 2009. Moore has had a steady first pro season. He continues to improve his game and given his brief time with Columbus earlier this month, his increased confidence on D for the Falcons is obvious.
Tomas Kubalik - Currently leading the Falcons and is the second leading rookie scorer in the AHL. Kubalik is a 20 year old with tremendous upside potential. He may see another season in the AHL, but it wouldn't be out of the question to see him in Columbus next season.
There are three guys on the current roster who are under contract with the Falcons, not the Jackets. The way AHL contracts are constructed, if an NHL offer comes to a player who is on an AHL deal, the NHL contract takes priority and that man can depart immediately.
Nick Tarnasky - Tarnasky is a proven NHL player. When he first came back to Springfield under a PTO, I expected him to be scooped up by an NHL club in short order. However, that was 46 games ago and he's no longer on a PTO, but a full AHL contract. Nick has 11 points and 101 PIM and could easily fit in somewhere as a 3rd or 4th line center.
Steven Goertzen - A versatile winger who adds stability. He's got 68 NHL games under his belt along with over 350 AHL games, his experience could help a team down the stretch.
Chris D'Alvise - The third year pro has been a steady addition to the Falcons. He joined the Falcons on a PTO in November, after scoring 10 goals and 7 assists in just 12 games with the Stockton Thunder of the ECHL.
Beyond the players mentioned here, the remaining Falcons seem to be where they need to be as far as career development. I wouldn't envision any of them as a focal point in a trade package. On the other hand, clubs that are on the outside of the playoff race looking in, might just find the next Danny Briere waiting for them.