If the words of Nikita Filatov are not enough to describe how much of an effect Ken Hitchcock has on his young players, then you will definitely want to read this.
The young Russian said in a recent interview, when questioned on his decision to return to the NHL, “I highly doubt it. But [moving] Ken Hitchcock can really help it.”
There is a pattern and we will show you it.
On January 8, 1996, the Dallas Stars appointed Hitchcock’ as their head coach. This team displayed a nice mix of veterans and youth with promising players like Mike Modano, Jere Lehtinen, Jamie Langenbrunner, Richard Matvichuck (acquired via trade), Trent Klatt and Darryl Sydor. This same team found chemistry together eventually leading them to a Stanley Cup Championship just three short years later.
However, in his first season, the kids barely saw the ice. Outside of Modano and Matvichuck, forwards Lehtinen, Langenbrunner and Klatt played a defensive checking role. Lehtinen was not drafted to be a defensive type player. Yes, he developed into a very good two-way player but a lot of his offensive potential lied to rot with Hitchcock not using him in a more offensive role or in a more offensive system.
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TSN’s Darren Dreger wrote that the Blue Jackets were looking to move a wing for a defenseman if there is a “right fit”. Clearly the injury to Rostislav Klesla (right) appears scary as the defender ranks third on the team in TOI, averaging a little over 20 minutes a game. This injury comes with Marc Methot already out, a 24-year-old defenseman who averages over 19 minutes a game. Needless to say, GM Scott Howson needs to make a move soon or his team could fall out of the race. Although they appear to want to improve from within, I think they will be forced to trade a younger asset.
The options at wing are: Jared Boll, Michael Blunden, Alexandre Picard, Jacub Voracek, Rick Nash, Kristian Huselius and/or Antoine Vermette and RJ Umberger. Looking at this list, I am pretty sure Nash, Voracek, Huselius, Vermette and Umberger are not getting moved while Blunden and Picard probably would not fetch much. If Derek Dorsett is healthy, he could make Boll expendable. Another option is Nikita Filatov.
Quick to rebut, Aaron Portzline of The Columbus Dispatch says Howson has not talked to a single GM and is not actively pursuing a trade. Portzline makes it abundantly clear that a trade is not brewing right now. Most trade talk starts around February but with the Olympics who knows how things will play out.
What are your thoughts? Who do you see being moved?
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