46 days and counting until training camp opens for rookies on September 12th. Does Howson have anything left up his sleeve?
The biggest move left to make is getting Pascal Leclaire locked down. Reading into some of Don Meehan's (Leclaire's agent) comments in the Dipsatch on Saturday I really think that may happen sometime over the next week or two. The Jackets made a counter and both sides are expected to get together tomorrow to discuss it.
The other big story will be Nikita Filatov. According to his latest blog he is still expecting to be in the North America sometime in August. Right now its all about getting his US work visa.
Other than that though I would expect things to remain relatively quiet until camp ramps up in September.
Never say never though as the Mike York signing last week would attest. If there is a deal out there that makes sense then Howson will pounce. I don't think he's actively pursuing a trade right now though. I really think he wants to see what he's got in camp and then move on from there.
Hard to fault him as even though he hasn't necessarily grabbed that big #1 center headline grabber most hoped he would he has still drastically altered the shape of this roster with big young close-to or in-their-prime players who will compete night and night out.
He's also built up some reliable depth so when the injury bug does strike (and we know it will) Hitch will have some reliable NHLers to fall back on to get them over the hump. Jason Chimera or Manny Malhotra should not see consistent time on the top two lines this season for example. That's not a knock on those two players as they are solid in their checking line and PK roles but instead its a sign of the depth Howson has built.
There are some risks - and every NHL lineup has them sans those damn Wings - with ours being Derick Brassard as a top 6 center. Should he get injured or show he's not ready Howson may have to act. He's got Peca/York/Malhotra/Novonty/Murray/MacKenzie/Kelly/MacDonald as depth down the middle but while that may be good enough to get us through a short term injury it may not be enough should Brassard not show he's able to produce at this level.
Not to worry though as I'm sure I'll come up with plenty of stuff to blab on about until the real fun starts.