COLUMBUS OH - NOVEMBER 6: Jared Boll #40 of the Columbus Blue Jackets fights with Matt Kassian #28 of the Minnesota Wild during the first period on November 6 2010 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus Ohio. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
Welcome to the first edition of Dan P.'s Mailbag here at The Cannon! Thanks to everyone who sent in a message. As always, you can send me an e-mail with your question. Be sure to include your Cannon commenting name, so that everyone knows who's writing in if your mail message gets chosen for the week.
Alright, this week we have three excellent questions that came in from the Internets. On with it!
What's the real reason we still have Jared Boll? He can't score, he can't win a fight, he can't skate with the puck. Heck, he's lucky if he can even hit someone when he bangs into the wall. --Mark2112
Boll has certainly become a polarizing figure over the past year or so. You certainly bring up some valid points, but it must be noted also that Boll is a popular guy in the dressing room. There aren't too many guys that work harder, and Boll gets by on pure grit alone. I think a couple of things factor into the decision to keep him around: 1) He's cheap. Boll is signed for two years, and his cap hit is essentially $1 million. That's a drop in the bucket for an NHL team in this day and age. 2) His teammates like him. Boll is a pretty quiet, unassuming guy off the ice, but once he's on it he's a guy that will drop the gloves to defend a teammate. Whether he wins those fights or not, his teammates will always love the fact that he's willing to mix it up on behalf of his team. I've seen his hands after games he's fought in, and he goes through a lot to stick up for his guys. That matters in the dressing room. 3) Most fans like him. Maybe not the nuts-and-bolts fans, but the casual hockey fans really like Boll. 4) He's more capable than he showed last season. I'm not going to sit here and sell you a bill of goods about Boll's skill level, but he's shown flashes of offensive competency at times. As a 19- and 20-year-old in the OHL, Boller put up 96 points in 131 games. In the four seasons prior to this past season, he averaged five goals a year. In 2010-11, he scored seven goals (12 points) in 73 games while shooting at 10.6%. Obviously, he's probably never going to breakout like Derek Dorsett did this past year, but Boll does have the ability to drop in some offense from time to time; he's better offensively that someone like Colton Gillies.
This past season was a bit of a washout for Boll, because he suffered through injuries and never really got a chance to get into any kind of rhythm. All of this having been said, this Jackets team is going to have to get to a place where they expect more from fourth liners. They also need to get to a place where more guys stick up for each other, and someone like Boll whose main asset is the willingness to lay it on the line wouldn't be so important to the culture of the team.
What if both the Jackets goalies (Mason and Bobrovsky) bomb before we even hit the halfway mark of the season? Will the Jackets call up York and send Mase or Bob to Springy? Or will they do a trade to bring in a true #1 goalie? Who could that possibly be? Bernier? --Doktor Z
Well, you've touched on what is probably the biggest thing that keeps both the Jackets' FO and Jackets fans up at night. Sergei Bobrovsky brings a new look to the goalie corps, but comes with faults of his own. They are still thin in the AHL, with Allen York and Curtis McElhinney and really nothing else. They have finally addressed the pipeline with Anton Forsberg, Oscar Dansk, and Joonas Korpisalo. But, those guys are probably 3-4 years away, at best.
I suspect that there aren't too many people that feel like this is a playoff team if the goaltending is good, so it they both bomb out this year it won't derail a season of expectations. That said, it can't be a good thing to have sent some assets to Philadelphia to be right back in the same boat again next summer.
If they both struggle, Allen York would probably get a chance to come up. I can't see both Mason and Bobrovsky going to Springfield due to being exposed to waivers; Mason would be the most likely candidate, because the odds that someone would claim him this close to his free-agency are slim. At the end of the day, though, if this is the roster the team breaks camp with, they will most likely ride-or-die with Bobrovsky and Mason. There just isn't much else there, and given the expectations for this team I can't see the team panicking and mortgaging the future to bring in a goaltender this season.
That said, I think Scott Howson and Craig Patrick are still leaving no stone unturned to try to get better in goal. The thing about a trade is that there's no way--short of bringing in Roberto Luongo--to trade for a "true #1". It's no secret that I like Jonathan Bernier, but I freely concede that there's now way to know whether he will be a true #1 or not. I think he could be, but he's unproven.
One of the other things that was hard about the Rick Nash trade was "the list". Ottawa seemed to be making a push for Nash, and they had both Robin Lehner and Ben Bishop as trade chips. Of course, Columbus could never get serious with Ottawa because they weren't on Nash's list. At the end of the day, I can't imagine a scenario in which Howson is content with his current NHL goaltending roster, but I don't see him making a "panic" move to trade for another goalie. That said, if the deal is right for a guy he really wants, a move is certainly possible.
Did the Blue Jackets officially kill/retire Boomer? Or do you think he's lurking beneath the surface of Nationwide Arena, ready to re-appear at the most opportune time? --ducktrance
Ahh, Boomer. Honestly, I didn't know the answer to this question, so I reached out to Todd Sharrock, who is the VP of Communications and Team Services for the club. Todd told me that Boomer hasn't been "killed" or officially retired, but that the team has no current plans for him at this time. In a conversation I had with Todd a couple of years ago, he noted that Boomer was originally created as a fun character for kids, and that kids had responded very positively to him.
Unfortunately for the Jackets, kids don't write blogs on the Internet; smarmy adults (such as myself) do.
In my own opinion, I can't see the team bringing him back anytime soon. This past year was about as tough on the ice--and by extension, off the ice--as any season in the team's history. Given the fact that most people would probably immediately pile on Boomer--AND the team--were he to return, I just don't see this as a good time for him to come back without some modifications.
Thanks to everyone who sent in questions! See you next week!