The Columbus Blue Jackets have rung in the New Year by dealing two of their star players in a blockbuster deal with the Phoenix Coyotes. D Pavel Kubina and RW Petr Sykora are heading to the desert in exchange for D Wade Redden, prospect RW Micheal Grabner, and the PHO 1st Round Pick in 2009.

(Read more...)
The consequences of this trade are significantly different for the two teams involved: Phoenix has now been made a legitimate cup contender, and Columbus will now be hard-pressed to even make the playoffs, let alone win a series.

To dissect the deal, here are GM-Eric's thoughts: "It's no secret that I had been shopping around Petr Sykora for the past few weeks, but there was only limited interest in his services. Two teams from the Eastern Conference inquired, but nothing concrete ever came of the discussions. Phoenix's GM then contacted me and expressed interest in both Sykora and Kubina, but made it clear that Redden had to be coming back my way. Now those that follow the NEFHL know very well that I despise Redden, and sure enough the thought of having him on my team makes me gag, but the deal in its entirety made sense for me. Redden, who is signed for 1 more year, will bring much needed PA to next year's defensive core and will lead the power play.

Grabner, for his part, is a former 14th overall pick and has been making good strides in the AHL. I firmly believe that the Canucks will be calling him up either this season or early next season. He also becomes my top prospect in terms of pure scoring potential. I was also fortunate enough to get an NHL scout's opinion of Grabner, which can be summarized as follows: 'an extremely fast skater who has an outstanding ability to score... has average playmaking skills and often shy's away from physical play... can be compared to Pavol Demitra'. Sounds good to me!

Finally, I acquire a 1st Round Pick, which is obviously a huge benefit to any organization. With all the good young players emerging from this year's World Juniors tournament, we're confident that between the CLB and PHO 1st rounders, we can draft some key pieces for the future.

With regards to Kubina and Sykora, it obviously hurts to see them go because they were key components of our squad for several years. However, both players are on the last year of their contracts and are set to hit the free agent market this summer. With Olli Jokinen being our loyalty, we were bound to lose both guys anyways."

So how did the players react to the trade? Well, for starters, Kubina is treating it like a bitter divorce. At first, he was refusing to believe what had happened and became very aggressive. In a written statement to the media, Kubina let his emotions run wild by saying the following: "F*** that! I'm the highest OV player on this ******* team, they can't trade me! I'm third in points and second in assists, not to mention a respectable -5 in +/-. Oh ya, and I'm a f***ing defenseman. If GM-Eric wanted to send a message, he should have dealt Thomas "the *****" Pock, who is -10 and hardly gets any ice-time! But you know what, fine. I'm outta here. But I'm taking the Cup with me."

But which Cup is he talking about? Everyone knows that the Blue Jackets have never won a title and that the Stanley Cup is in Florida. Well, as it turns out, the Cup that Kubina is referring to is a replica Stanley Cup that he carries around with him at all times. "No one cares if he takes that silly Cup with him, it's a freaking fake! Who carries around a fake Cup anyways?", said GM-Eric.

Above: Pavel Kubina is seen landing in Phoenix with his replica Cup in hand. Also seen coming out of the limousine is Kubina's ridiculously underaged girlfriend. WTF?

Petr Sykora's response to the news was equally immature. He was told of the trade during the Blue Jackets morning skate today, and his first reaction was to take off all his equipment. "If they don't want to be associated with me, then I don't want to be associated with them either. I took off all my Jackets equipment and left the ice. Screw 'em", said Sykora. At the time of the trade, Sykora was second in team scoring and was Jokinen's go-to man. Taking over his RW duties on Columbus' top line will be Radim Vrbata.

ABOVE: Petr Sykora is seen removing all his Jackets-related equipment as a symbol of defiance.

In other news, the Columbus Blue Jackets are pleased to report the progress of C Dustin Jeffrey, who was recently called up by the Pittsburgh Penguins of the NHL. Jeffrey has now played 3 NHL games and has recorded 1 assist, 1 blocked shot and has a 40.9% face-off percentage. His defensive play has been terrific and many Penguins fans believe that he should become a regular 3rd line player.