The Guess on the Blue Jackets

Tonight, as many of you know, is the NHL draft. Much unlike the prior 8 drafts, the Columbus Blue Jackets are NOT a lottery team – I was starting to believe the Blue Jackets were becoming the NHL’s version of the Los Angeles Clippers – Gasp!

However, that is not to say, as Scott Howson has iterated, on many occasions, that, in today’s NHL – gawd, this line is getting as played and annoying as the former line “You know, the Blue Jackets are the only NHL team who’s never made the playoffs…” – given the economy and the impending salary cap restrictions, as well as the Blue Jackets being a budget, not salary cap, team – you build via the draft.

Did you hear that, Tampa Bay Lightning owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie?

There have been many draft analysis given, both on the NHL-overall front, as well as for the Blue Jackets. That kind of intrinsic, detailed knowledge should be done by someone with the necessary expertise…I am not that person…and, here’s why I offer this, instead…

Given how prior drafts have gone, and based on my meeting with Chris MacFarland, the Blue Jackets Assistant GM, to be precise on who the Blue Jackets will draft, particularly with the 16th spot, will require about as much precision as having a primate throw darts at the mid-first round prospects – OK, well, maybe that’s just MY level of mental capacity.

So, you’ll probably need to go to someone who really has the mental accumen and in-depth knowledge, for this area – so, I defer to draft pundits. But, as they say, hear me out…

To show you where I’m going, I offer you two examples: Drafting Nikita Filatov and acquiring (via trade) Fedor Tyutin.

If you recall – those of you who participate in fantansy sports drafts will understand this – there is often a “run” – going with the conventional position players – that occurs.

In the case of drafting Filatov – rated the #2 prospect on many drafting boards – draft choices 2-5 were defensemen – Doughty, Bogosian, Pietrangelo, and Schenn. Call it the position du jour…the bottom line was that the trend of going blueline worked out to be quite the blessing for the CBJ, as, barring an injury, I believe they landed the cream of the crop from last year’s draft. Only time will tell…

In the case of landing Tyutin, recall that Scott Howson was seriously pursuing Wade Redden as that puck-moving, Power Play Quarterback which would have, at the time, made a serious statement in his goal of upgrading their blueline. However, Redden, through his agent, made it clear that he didn’t want to come to Columbus – rather, he wanted to go to the Broadway Blueshirts (NY Rangers).

Well, as Scott Howson, being the very sharp GM that he is, recognized that, by signing Redden, the Rangers put themselves in a serious salary cap crunch. This then opened the door for Howson to pursue the defenseman he coveted for quite a while, Fedor Tyutin. It also allowed Howson to offer, via trade, Nikolai Zherdev, the enigmatic forward, who really didn’t fit into Ken Hitchcock’s north-south, 2-way system.

Oh, and there was that signability issue with Zherdev, something that has now come to the forefront for the Rangers. This trade then led to acquiring, via Free Agency, Krisian Huselius, who took on the Right Wing playmaker role in Zherdev’s absence.

My point is this – how the draft goes can be likened, from my MBA program days, as levers – if you activate one, it sets off a series of other levers or actions. Basically, it’s not a “If A, then B” – rather, it’s more like, “If A occurs, then B occurs, which leads to C, D, etc.”

Alright, now I’m getting into multiple regression analysis, and that stuff used to give me a headache…but, I think you see my point.

There are numerous directions the Blue Jackets draft choice(s) can go – trade up, trade down and pick up additional draft picks, one of which is to acquire that second round selection that was foregone in the LeClaire for Vermette trade deadline deal, back in February.

So, rather than speculate as to who the Blue Jackets might select, I believe it’s best – for me, anyway – to see what shakes down, right up to, and perhaps, shortly thereafter, they make their selection.

Add to this are what both Chris MacFarland and Scott Howson have both said Рthe CBJ will draft the best player available. That is not clich̩ Рthey are both no-nonsense guys Рthat is fact. The Blue Jackets have both puck-moving blueline needs as well as a dearth of organizational Рparent team and in development Рtalent at the center position.

But, so as to justify that I have, indeed, analyzed the available draft pool which may slot to the Blue Jackets draft position, assuming they stay at the 16th position in the draft, here are some names to keep in mind:

John Moore, D
Zack Kassian, RW
Ryan Ellis, D
Oliver Ekman Larsson, D
David Rundbland, D

So, if you seek blockbuster draft day moves, follow what Brian Burke does.

Where I believe the “rubber meets the road”, at least as it relates to the Blue Jackets, will occur next week, when the UFA signing period begins.

Enjoy the 2009 Draft!

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