I make it a rule NOT to visit Eklund's site. Ever. I haven't read anything from him in probably a year.
A few days ago, I got an e-mail inquiry from a reader concerning a resurrected rumor that the Canes would be trading the rights to defenseman Jack Johnson to the Penguins in exchange for Jordan Staal. The e-mail started with the question "Did you see this one on Eklund's site today?". Of course I snickered and started to imagine in my head what his "expert" "insider" information on this was.
"Eklund" wrote a piece, essentially saying that it's a no-brainer for both sides because Carolina has an overabundance of defense and Pittsburgh only needs two forwards (Crosby and Malkin). He went on to say that according to his insider information, the deal was already in the works and they were just "waiting out the holiday" to make it happen. Now we all (at least the ones of us who are at all savvy) know that the "insiders" that
- his dog
- his deranged uncle who lives in the attic and writes love poems to Mamie Eisenhower
- a life-size cardboard cutout of those Bartles & James guys
- the best friend of his eight-year-old nephew's classmate's next door neighbor
- his co-worker Pete, who played intramural hockey in college
Still, though, this rumor has managed to gain some momentum and has all the message board types drooling. They're looking at this prospect of a trade in terms of how it would work in the here and now. They're mistaking Johnson's quest for an NCAA championship for Eli Manning-esque petulance. They look at our current roster and say "We don't need another defenseman. Ever. Especially if he refuses to play for us"
While Carolina is in good shape defense-wise this season, they need to retain the rights to Johnson. By the time he leaves Ann Arbor (whether it's the spring of '07 or the spring of '09), the 87 year old Glen Wesley will have retired, and Bret Hedican will probably do the same. Honestly, I'm quite surprised that Wesley didn't already retire after winning the Cup. Hedican, who is held together with duct tape and Bondo, will be lucky to make it through this upcoming season. I half expected him to retire as well. After the 06-07 season, the timing will be just right for Jack Johnson to make the jump and fill Carolina's defensive needs.
A defenseman of his calibre doesn't come around very often. Good defensemen, by anybody's account, are much harder to come across than forwards. Eklund seems to be suggesting that since the Canes signed David Tanabe to a one year deal, they no longer need the best defensive prospect this franchise has ever seen. The mouth breathing masses are gobbling it up.
Would I like to see Jordan Staal play for Carolina? Sure. Does this trade talk make sense? Maybe it did back in June, but I guess I've changed my mind.
Please note that I'm aware of the fact that I once was of the camp that favored the idea of a draft day trade involving the same thing. I'm also aware of the fact that I once (with tongue planted in cheek) ridiculed Johnson's decision to go to school. I've changed though. I've gone 180 on that, and I think it's cool that he's serious about going to school and playing college hockey. It was his boyhood dream to play hockey for the Wolverines and to win an NCAA championship doing it. He's living part of that dream. And as far as the Canes are concerned, they'll still have his rights while he's in college. He'll be developing and the Canes won't have to pay him a dime while he's doing it. It's kind of a good deal.
Oh, and just for good measure, here's a Jack Johnson clip you might not have seen:
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