Sealing the Deal
Howson closed three deals this week that should show fans that he means business: re-signing veteran center Michael Peca, inking the expected deal with R.J. Umberger and extending Coach Hitchcock through the 2012 season.
After trading for Umberger, it was apparent that a deal would get done with the possible restricted free agent. Howson would have been ridden out of town if he had not signed Umberger after trading away players for his rights. The Canadian Press reported that Umberger received a 4 year, $15 million contract. A hard-nosed player who can provide some scoring, Umberger will be a fun player to watch assuming he stays out of the path of Brian Campbell. Go to YouTube and search for Umberger if you don't know what I mean. Yikes...
Last season Peca provided leadership, good faceoff skills and steady defensive play. Despite the decline in his offensive numbers, Peca was a valuable signing as he often had tough defensive assignments.
Hitchcock had the team playing well for much of the season and, despite a late season swoon, the team ended the year with its best record to date: 80 points and 34-36-12. Hopefully he can push them into the playoffs so we can finally never again read "Columbus: the only NHL team to never make the playoffs."