May 21, 2012, 11:56 AM EDT
Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson will face a number of key issues this offseason.
Now, the club has made sure he wouldn’t face them alone.
The Blue Jackets extended the contract of executive/adviser Craig Patrick on Sunday, ensuring he’d be with the club for at least another season. Patrick first joined the club in Dec. 2011.
“I’m absolutely delighted,” Patrick told the Columbus Dispatch. “I came here in December when things weren’t so nice, but we’ve figured out a lot of things. We’ve solved a lot of problems. We still have some things to work out, but we made great progress.”
Keeping Patrick in the fold is an important move for the Jackets, especially if they trade team captain Rick Nash. Patrick played a role in moving another of Columbus’ high-priced talents — Jeff Carter — prior to the NHL trade deadline, getting defenseman Jack Johnson and a first-round pick in return.
“When I’m asked, I express my opinion,” Patrick said. “I’m a big J.J. fan, always have been, so I’m really happy the way it turned out. To get J.J. would be a good deal alone, but to get a No. 1 pick on top of it is really special.”
That said, Patrick isn’t there just to oversee a potential Nash deal. The Blue Jackets also need to sort out their goaltending situation and figure how to best utilize their two first-round picks at the 2012 draft, including the No. 2 pick overall.
Patrick’s work at the draft could be more important than anything, especially given Columbus’ lackluster history of selecting prospects.
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