Yes, we've just finished the, arguably, most exciting season in Jackets' history. But I'm already thinking about next season. What I'm thinking about is how to improve the team incrementally. So, what follows is my opinion on who the Jackets should keep, let go (i.e. trade or let walk) and who, in my opinion, is on the bubble. Let me make this clear, I am ignoring contracts and simply stating which players are expendable, are useful but not essential and are essential. I welcome comments and thoughts.
GOALIES: This one is easy. Keep Bob and let Leighton go. Solid back-up goalies are, relatively speaking, easy to acquire and we have C-Mac in Springy.
On the bubble - Nikita Nikitin and Tim Erixson (May need some more time @ Springy)
Gone - Adrian Aucoin
FORWARDS: (For me, these are the most difficult choices trying to balance chemistry with the need for more scoring)
On the bubble - Umby, D-Mac, Comaeu
Gone - Boll, Gillies
Now, my reasons for those I'd let go/trade. Leighton is obvious. All he's been doing is filling a roster space and C-Mac can fill the back-up goalie slot better. While Aucoin has been solid, the Jackets' defensive depth requires one (or more) players to go and Aucoin is the most obvious. As far as forwards are concerned, the Jackets have a wealth of grinder/4th line types making Boll and Gillies expendable.
My reasoning for those on the bubble is thus: Erixson seems to need a bit more seasoning. Another season of swinging between C-bus and Springy would benefit him and the team. And while Niki-6 has been a solid player, with the wealth of defensive talent in Springy, it seems to me that the CBJ could get a fairly decent forward for him in a trade, which would clear another roster slot for a young d-man. On the other hand, returning Niki-6 for another year would not hurt the team. At forward, D-Mac and Comeau are in the same position. Both are highly useful players, both provide a certain amount of scoring, energy and grit and I have no problem bringing both, or either one back. Especially as Comeau can also be something of an enforcer. On the other hand, the Jackets do have a wealth of such players and trading either one (probably as part of a package with Niki-6) could bring a decent scorer. As for Umby, I'm on the fence with him. He's been doing a lot of the little things that win games, but he's being paid to score goals, which he hasn't been doing. I can see bringing him back for another try next year (There's always trade deadline deals if he doesn't return to the second line scorer her should be.), but I can also see making him an amnesty buy-out or trading him this off-season.
So, there you go. My thoughts on the current roster.