NHL Draft: Did Blue Jackets, Scott Howson Make the Right Move?
Photo courtesy of bleacherreport.net
By Tim Lucarelli (@tlucarelli)
Earlier this week the Columbus Blue Jackets made headlines when it was announced that the Islanders offered their entire draft to move up two spots. From the outside looking in, it might seem like a no-brainer to take on all of those picks, but could it really be that simple? GM Scott Howson apparently could not justify it, as he proceeded to take the player he had been eyeing all along – Ryan Murray.
As an organization, Columbus has had more than their fair share of hurdles in the attempt to become an elite franchise. Just one short year ago, the Blue Jackets opted to give up their first round selection in favor of proven talent. In the process, they lost a highly valued winger in Jakub Voracek and cringed when their pick turned out to be Sean Couturier, who now dons a Philadelphia Flyers jersey. But at the time, it was all worth it. They were able to bring in another elite household name by way of Jeff Carter, finally giving the organization depth past captain Rick Nash.
As time went on, the Jeff Carter experiment began to fall apart. Eventually, Howson cut his losses and shipped him off to Los Angeles. A frustrated Howson was quoted saying, “We were excited and had high expectations when we acquired Jeff Carter, but we just couldn’t find the right fit for him here.” While Jack Johnson (the return for Carter) is a solid defenseman, Columbus lost big time on the Carter gamble.
After that entire ordeal, is it really all that surprising that Columbus did not want to move down in the draft? After all, how often does a number one or two overall choice come along? Columbus, who finished as the worst team in the league last season, already had also lost some wind from their sails after losing the top pick to Edmonton, thanks to the NHL draft lottery. After last season’s debacle and the draft slide, there is no way Howson – who could already be walking on very thin ice – could explain trading down and not selecting the top-rated defenseman in the draft.
To put things into perspective, let’s take a look at the last two drafts and see if the trade would have made sense then.
While the extra picks might pay off eventually, in both circumstances the second overall pick has delivered more immediate benefits, which is exactly what Columbus needs. Murray will almost certainly step right into the Blue Jackets’ roster and join a group that includes James Wisniewski, Jack Johnson, Fedor Tyutin, and the recently re-signed Nikita Nikitin. Factoring in the recent acquisition of Sergei Bobrovsky, the Blue Jackets are certainly looking at a stronger roster than last season.
The Blue Jackets’ prospect development camp will begin on Tuesday, July 3rd and will feature all six 2012 selections (D Ryan Murray, G Oscar Dansk, G Joonas Korpisalo, LW Josh Anderson, RW Daniel Zaar, and D Gianluca Curcuruto), as well as all 2011 selections (C Boone Jenner, C T.J. Tynan, D Mike Reilly, RW Seth Ambroz, C Lukas Sedlak, and G Anton Forsberg). Two other high-profiled names will be in attendance as well in C Ryan Johansen and RW Cam Atkinson. For the full list, courtesy of bluejackets.nhl.com, click here.