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Numbers Game: Blue Jackets get Torres

Scott Cullen
7/1/2008 4:44:36 PM
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In their second trade of the off-season, the Edmonton Oilers cleared out some salary and brought in a prospect.

Numbers Game takes a look at the deal that sent Raffi Torres to Columbus.

The Blue Jackets Get: LW Raffi Torres.

One of the league's most dangerous and punishing hitters, Torres missed the final 49 games of the regular season with a knee injury and it wasn't like the season was going all that well for him anyway, with 11 points in 32 games.

A couple of years ago, Torres tallied career-highs with 27 goals and 41 points, but he hasn't been able to get back to that level of production, making the two years and $5.15-million left on his contract seem out of whack by comparison.

What Torres, 26, does have going for him is that he should have an opportunity to get some power play time in Columbus, where Nikolai Zherdev and Rick Nash were the only Blue Jackets forwards to manage more than three power play goals, which gives him some potential to increase his scoring output.  Given his price tag, it also figures that the Jackets might want him to at least return to 20-goal form.

On the other hand, if Torres doesn't drastically improve his consistency he'll have a hard time earning bonus ice time under Ken Hitchcock.

When Torres was injured last season, the Oilers had ample opportunity to try out their younger forwards and, upon finding that they have more than enough guys capable of exceeding Torres' production at a fraction of the cost, well, he was easily expendable.

The Oilers Get: C Gilbert Brule.

It's been a rough start to Brule's pro career after he was drafted, with so much promise, sixth overall to the Blue Jackets in 2005.

He's still just 21 years of age, so there is time for Brule's career to get on the right track, but rare is the player who plays more than a full season in the NHL before getting demoted to the AHL by the time he is 21 then rebounds to have a productive career. 

A fresh start may be just the ticket for the Edmonton native, who may be able to earn his keep playing a gritty two-way game while the Oilers wait for his offence to come around.

Brule is due to make $765,000 next season, the final year of his entry-level contract.

From Edmonton's perspective, if Brule doesn't pan out, it's not a huge loss because the real value in the deal is the increased financial freedom created by shedding Torres' contract.  If Brule does turn into a bona fide NHLer, even in a limited role, it's a bonus.
 
Scott Cullen can be reached at scullen@tsn.ca




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