By Professor ggrib
Back with more “D”. First lets kinda discuss the old pro the Jackets obtained to both play on the “D” and to mentor the younger “D” players. That would be Adrian Aucoin. Adrian will be 40 in July. His purpose in 2013 was to play some and mentor the youngsters in the Jackets defensive corpse. The way it worked out, he was mostly paired with Tim Erixon. Dalton Prout came up and was not paired much with Adrian. Prout was kinda a surprise to the NHL. He arrived while the game against Chicago was in progress. After sitting on the bench to get his head in the game, he stepped onto the ice and stayed there the remainder of the season. So much so, that John Moore was traded as part of the Gaborik trade.
While the first 4 defensemen we discussed are more offensive “D” men, the 3 I just mentioned are more the “stay at home” and do what it takes to defend. That’s Aucoin’s forte and that’s what he did. I thought that when Tim Erixion was paired with Aucoin he was just a bit more confident and aggressive in his play.
If you are counting that’s 4 + 3 and 7 defensemen are what is usually on the roster. So what about Ryan Murray? And are we going to re-sign Aucoin? Well, first of all if history is any indication, the Jacket defensemen seem to have quite a bit of IR time. So it’s pretty likely that at least 2 Springfield Falcons will be playing part of the season in Columbus. Nick Holden and David Sevard immediately come to mind as well as Cody Goloubef. All 3 will be free agents this summer. There has been some talk that Sevard has not shown NHL speed, so we’ll see how that works out. And before we get into the Springfield list of FAs which is extensive, let’s stop it there.
A key question is will we re-sign Aucoin. He’s turning 40 in July. He is a pro with over 1100 games under his belt. I like him, but I think with 3 experienced “D” men in Tyutin, JMFJ, and the Wiz and assistant coach Craig Hartsburg an ex “D” man, that we will not. This will open up a roster spot for a young “D” man. Although a number of Springfield’s defensemen are upcoming FAs there are a large number there, as well as some signed players in Junior Hockey. Note that the Jackets got 24 year old defenseman Blake Parlett [6'1"/205 and averaging almost 1/2 a point per game this year] from the Rangers in the trade deadline deal. He could be interesting. This is a Jermo touch, a throw in within the NHL deal.
So in summary, the Jackets defense is a strong point, both from the offensive side and from the actual defensive side. The pipeline has some good prospects as well as some old standbys. Could we trade a “D” man as part of a deal for another scoring player or a top draft choice? The answer is a resounding yes. There are several NHL teams that need defensive help and the Blue Jackets can provide it. [an example is John Moore going to the Rangers--they love him]
Here’s my take on what will happen barring any trade. Aucoin will not be resigned. The 7th slot will initially be a rotation by committee spot with Springfield. Ryan Murray will open the season in Springfield to get his focus and hockey senses back after his injury. If Erixon or Prout become lost in the NHL they will join the Springfield shuttle. There are at least 3 defensive players who have shown they can play at the NHL level abet still as newbies. There are several more “D” men who are on the cusp of NHL experience with more coming out of the Juniors.
Note that I’ve liberally used the Springfield proving grounds. There are several reasons for this.  The 2012-2013 season has shown that coach Brad Larson [a first year coach] can coach, can prepare players for the NHL and can win.  There is a commitment to provide Springfield with a competitive team. Sharing players who are close to NHL talent helps provide this.  A competitive team in Springfield develops a winning attitude in the players.
So with that lead in, next time we’ll think a bit more about Springfield.