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Blue Jackets sign Fedor Tyutin to a six-year extension

August 31, 2011, 2:55 PM ET [ Comments]
Bart Logan
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Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson just added another name to "The Core."

The Blue Jackets announced today that they have signed defenseman Fedor Tyutin to a six-year contract extension. The Dispatch reports the deal will pay the Russian blue liner $27 million over the term with a cap hit of $4.5 million. Tyutin, 28, was due to become a free agent next summer.

Howson acquired Tyutin along with Christian Backman (Blue Jackets fans collectively shutter) from the New York Rangers prior to the 2008-2009 season in exchange for Nikolay Zherdev and Dan Fritsche. Not only is he the only player part of that trade still playing for the team he was dealt for, he's the only one still playing in the league.

Although frustratingly inconsistent early in his Blue Jackets tenure -- his solid play often overlooked by the occasional ghastly turnover -- he has grown into the team's most consistent defenseman over the past two seasons. He led all Columbus blue liners in virtually every statistical category last season: goals, assists, power-play points, time-on-ice, gnarly shootout moves. His lackluster minus-12 was more a testament to how often he was on the ice against the other team's top line with a woeful at times supporting cast.

Make no mistake, Tyutin is not a No. 1 defenseman -- it was a role he was forced into and he has served admirably for the most part. Some may consider a $4.5 cap hit steep for a player who has never eclipsed 35 points in a season and owns a career minus-24, but it could still work well in the Blue Jackets favor.

In three seasons in Union Blue, he's racked up 22 goals and 71 assists for 93 points while missing only four games. A pair of them came last season, when he was a made healthy scratch on Dec. 6 and 9. He responded to his first stint on the press row with 15 points in his next 22 games and played less than 20 minutes on just one occasion for the rest of the season.

He was the Blue Jackets only competent power play quarterback until Grant Clitsome was recalled (he's also a regular on Team Russia's man-advantage) last season(s). He also made great strides improving his play at the other end of the ice, becoming one of the top penalty killers in a year that saw former stalwart Jan Hejda regress. The Izhevsk, Russia native was a horse.

Even as the penciled No. 2 next to summer signing James Wisniewski, Tyutin is a $4.5 million defenseman in Howson's eyes. And, if history serves as any indication he would have looked that way to any number of GMs on the free agent market.

Tyutin will have his hands full playing with the notoriously aggressive Wisniewski, likely requiring him to play a more conservative game next season. Still there's no reason to believe that, with a far stronger team, he can't put up 30-40 points, while logging 20-plus minutes a night. Those players don't exactly grow on trees.

He is an above average skater with good size and strength and he finds ways to get the puck out of the zone, whether a lasering breakout pass, sending the puck off the glass or taking it up himself. He doesn't go end-to-end but he is a poster boy for Scott Arniel's opportunist philosophy for defenseman joining the attack.

It's clear by the moves he's made this summer that Howson has adopted a "win yesterday" philosophy, but it's also telling of his confidence in those decisions that he would place such a priority on locking up Tyutin for the foreseeable future before the season's start. He now has Derrick Brassard, Jeff Carter, Marc Methot, Rick Nash, Fedor Tyutin and Antoine Vermette on the books at least the next three seasons (to go along with top prospect Ryan Johansen).

Expect to hear a similar announcement about a certain RJ Umberger before opening night.
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