Columbus Blue Jackets General Manager Scott Howson sat down with television color analyst Bill Davidge for a one-on-one interview to discuss the end of the playoffs, the draft, free agency and more.
Below is a transcript of some of the interview...
Davidge: How's the summer going, hopefully you've had some time off to regroup a little bit?
Howson: We did our exit meetings (with players) and got some information there. Formulated some plans about how we want to retool the organization. Now we are focused on the draft and free agency, so it's an exciting time.
Davidge: What do you take away from this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs?
Howson: First, that we participated in them. That was a good step for our team, our players. I think we learned a lot from seeing a team like detroit playing at that committment level, the way they checked, the way they played, the skill level we know we have.
The playoffs were outstanding, generally speaking. Great hockey and a wonderful final, I really enjoyed it from a fans perspective. myself. I think the NHL has a lot to be proud of with what's gone on here in the last several months.
Davidge: What's it going to take for the Blue Jackets to get past ther first round and maybe sneak into the finals?
Howson: There's going to have to be some improvement, our young players are going to have to mature and get better. That's really when we will become good; Brassard, Mason (had a great year) , Russell, Voracek, Filatov coming in; when they become really good NHL players we will be able to compete with these teams. Generally, we'd still like to improve our defense and our puck moving ability from our back end.
Davidge: How do you approach the Entry Draft?
Howson: It's always a game day decision. We're not tied to anything, but there is certainly more uncertainty having the 16th pick as oppose to having the sixth, seventh or eighth pick. It is a deep draft and I can tell you right now that if we do walk to the podium at 16, we're going to be excited about the player were getting. We think it's an important pick for us. We think this is another young hockey player that could be part of our core group over the next five or six years when we can be Stanley Cup contenders.
Davidge: How are phones going now (in regards to the draft and trades)?
Howson: Pretty good really... You try to keep in touch with everybody, just to see what they're doing and exchanging some information about what your needs are and what they might be looking for... we don't have anything on the front burner, but once you get (to the draft) things can heat up.
Davidge: Approach to free agency at this point?
Howson: We've been negotiating with Manny and that's been ongoing. I'm not sure where it's going to go... we've talked quite a bit and we're taking a little break for the draft and then after we can talk again. So, he's our first priority right now. After that, we are going to get to July 1 and then we need a back up goalie, probably need another defenseman, and if Manny doesn't come back, then a center. We have more specific needs (this year) and probably not on as large a scale as last year.
Davidge: Talk about who people will see/hear about at this year's development camp?
Howson: This is an important time for us. It's for the players that we've drafted... really all it is, is just trying get the players use to Columbus, seeing the city, the benefits of the city and hopefully providing them with some information and motivation to get to the NHL a little quicker.
For the entire interview, check out Blue Jackets TV