In what may very well be a case of setting the table for the trade deadline, the Jackets made moves up and down the organization today, including a surprise waiver claim.
Defenseman David Savard was assigned to Springfield early this morning, and will play for the Falcons later tonight. The move makes some sense with the acquisition of Jack Johnson - the team has more than enough bodies on the blue line, particularly with both Wisniewski and Nikitin healthy.
What was a bit more of a surprise was the assignment of both Ryan Russell and Grant Clitsome to waivers, likely with the intention of sending both down to Springfield if they are not claimed. While Clitsome has been on an extended tour of the press box, I would have expected Aaron Johnson or Brett Lebda to be designated for assignment before the offensive d-man, though I can certainly see the argument that his skillset has been effectively replaced by the Johnson deal. Don't be shocked if we see Clitsome claimed by another team that can absorb the relatively light cap hit and hope for him to rebound after a sophomore slump.
Meanwhile, Russell had been a solid presence on the third line, and his demotion takes speed away from a checking unit that had been reasonably effective since his callup. Perhaps this is freeing up a forward slot for potential trade deadline returns? Little else makes much sense.
(Speaking of the Johnson / Carter deal, both teams have confirmed that each player has passed their required physical exams. The trade is now complete.)
In other news, the team pulled centre Darryl Boyce off of waivers from Toronto this morning. Generally regarded as a high energy, physical, strong character player, he's a good faceoff guy and worked hard as a PKer for the Leafs, but has heard some concerns about his size. You may remember him from a nasty collision earlier in the season that shredded his nose. (Link not particularly safe for the squeamish).
If, as predicted, both Samuel Pahlsson and Derek Mackenzie could be trade assets, Boyce makes sense to step into a 3rd or 4th line C role. A pending UFA, it's a chance for him to audition for his new team and perhaps earn himself a new deal going forward. You can hear Boyce's being interviewed by Toronto's Fan590 radio station about the trade here.
Last but not least, TSN's Bob MacKenzie is reporting that Rick Nash's agent, Joe Resnick, is hopeful a deal can get done prior to the trade deadline that sends the power forward out of town. It seems that Nash's list of acceptable trade destinations will not change in the offseason, so the question now is simply who blinks first - Scott Howson or his suitors. Glen Sather, please pick up the white courtesy phone...
With the Rangers already sending Wojtek Wolski to Florida in a move to clear salary, it seems quite likely that they're the front runner, and if the Jackets are looking to pick up multiple assets in exchange for Nash (and they damned well should be), the team will need the roster flexibility to bring the pieces together as quickly as possible.
Nash is reported as travelling with the team to Pittsburgh for Sunday's game, while the Rangers play at home tonight. Should a deal go down before the deadline, it seems likely that Nash could be heading on one plane while the rest of the team takes another home.
Someone comes to town, someone leaves town...