Draft

My CBJ Mock Draft

Posted by CBJProspects on June 14, 2012
Draft, Prospects / 1 Comment

With the draft quickly approaching, and the internet being full of mock drafts, I’m offering my take. Be it just a first round to those few crazy sites that do full draft mock ups, me, I’m taking the easy way out – I’m just doing one team. That one team is of course the Columbus Blue Jackets(duh prospect boy).

As of this writing the Blue Jackets own eight picks, possibly nine. And, important to note, in my proposed draft, I can only pick from who has been ranked by the scouting services since I can’t find a list of unsigned prospects that reentered the draft or players that were passed over in previous drafts (quick note last three drafts we’ve selected a player that’s been passed over). So here we go.

The CBJ’s Picks (round-pick)
1-2
2-31,45(OTT via PHX)
3-62
4-95(NYI via VAN), 117(via VAN)
6-152
7-182

ROUND 1 PICK 2
Nail Yakupov(CSS Rank NA 1)
Ok, I’m not saying how, but somehow, someway, the Jackets will flip picks with Edmonton and take Nail Yakupov. Yakupov will give us a skilled, but undersized, goal scorer to hopefully help fill the void left by the Rick Nash trade. Plus, we can only hope for post game interviews like this. Of note, after breaking Steven Stamkos’ rookie scoring records, Yakupov had a rough season due to injuries also having to sit a few games after skipping the Top Prospect game(how dare he rehab an injury- he’s a monster).

ROUND 2 PICK 31
Malcolm Subban(CSS Rank NA G 1)
This pick is totally to help fill the massive crater that is the CBJ’s goalie depth. Now don’t read that as I think Subban will be in Columbus next year, I’m more than ready for him to take a few seasons to develop. Subban’s only been playing goal since he was 12, but he is very athletic and has quick reflexes. Only problem is his rebound control. Malcolm is compared to Montreal’s Carey Price. Subban was among the OHL’s top goalies including being 4th in GAA with a 2.50 with three shutouts. Subban has a slight connection with the Jackets as Columbus prospect Dalton Smith demolished Subban earning him a 10 game suspension.

ROUND 2 PICK 45
Tim Bozon(CSS Rank NA 42)
I’ve liked Tim Bozon since reading about him in The Hockey News Draft Guide when it commented on not only his skill but also his toughness. Now at 6’1, 180some lbs, Bozon is no bruiser, but he’s a speedy scorer and, at least in juniors (Swiss and WHL) a point per game player. The mention of his toughness is when he took a monster hit but Bozon waved the trainer off, another example of this led to a great quote from a scout is when he got into a fight(<-I think this was it) in the playoffs noting Bozon got the tar beaten out of him “I didn’t get to see his skill set” also adding “but I did leave there thinking he was either stupid or he had a lot of balls”. Bozon’s best attribute is his skating and speed leading to 36 goals which was second on the Blazers. Tim’s father Philippe was the first French trained player to play in the NHL suiting up for 144 games with St Louis in the early 90s.

ROUND 3 PICK 62
Anthony Stolarz(CSS Rank NA G 4)
You’re probably going to call me crazy for taking a goalie in back to back rounds, but Stolarz has been climbing teams’ lists. Stolarz is a monster(pauses and thinks of Wesslau and Gustavsson nevermind) at 6’5 200 lbs having the biggest wingspan at the recent NHL combine with a wingspan of 81″(his wingspan is wider than he is tall). Now Stolarz would be a project as he’s committed to Nebraska-Omaha, but Omaha returns two Sophomores who won nine of the team’s 14 games last season. Stolarz ended up in the lower NAHL after being cut from two EJHL team’s camps and, with some help from his coaches, where once he was expected to be a backup he ended up playing 50 games for the IceRays.

ROUND 4 PICK 95
Esa Lindell(CSS Rank Euro 12)
Not gonna lie this is totally a stat based one. The 6’3″ Fin scored 21 goals(#18 in the video)for the Jokerit Jr team and according to one draft guide it’s because of “a high scoring environment and big ice time”. Lindell is a smart player when making plays and patient with the puck but he’s only average with it but still coordinated enough to make plays. Conflicting scouting reports exist about his physical play, but most sites reports list him as 6’2-6’3 and in the 190 some pound range. Lindell sounds like he’d be a bit of a project pick.

ROUND 4 PICK 117
Brendan Leipsic(CSS Rank 114)
Leipsic sounds a little like Derek Dorsett mixed with Cam Atkinson and possibly a little TJ Tynan, one guide I have called him a energizer bunny. Leipsic despite being listed at 5’9 165 loves to finish checks and has no problem going to the dirty areas. Now he lacks an extra gear but makes up for it by being “sneaky fast”, but he’s hard to control around the boards and when driving to the net. Leipsic has great hands, an accurate shot and is very creative offensively. The only problem with him seems to be he’s 5’9 and his style of play could lead to injuries.

ROUND 6 PICK 152
Justin Hache(CSS Rank 152)
Now picking him at the number he’s ranked is just coincidence. Where Lindell was offensive, Hache has 33 career points in 97 games. Hache was seeing important minutes with the Cataractes until the team loaded up for the Memorial Cup acquiring three of the QMJHL’s top defensemen. Hache is a steady reliable defenseman, but not a great skater, and, someone who likes to be physical along the boards. As with most prospects, he will need to get stronger. Next year, Justin will be playing on a new team as he was traded to Cape Breton to complete one of the trades earlier in the season to acquire one of the top defenseman.

ROUND 7 PICK 182
Ludvig Nilsson(CSS Rank Euro 57)
Nilsson is a 6’1 center/left wing that played for Timra’s junior team scoring 32 points in 47 games. Nilsson has a shoot first mentality that shows he wants to be a difference maker. While he doesn’t punish you with his size, he uses it in his goal scoring. Nilsson is a net presence on the power play where he earns most of his points.

There you have it folks, my picks on who the CBJ should draft. If I get any of these right, I may retire from blogging(stop cheering!)! I’ll be at the draft for both days with a little help from ebay and a friend of my dad’s so ill be live tweeting and commenting all the way. Be sure to follow me here at the Union Blue and via Twitter at @cbjprospects.

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Mock Draft v2.0

Posted by The Coach on May 04, 2012
Draft / 2 Comments

Welcome to The Union Blue! For those of you discovering this for the first time, I am going to be doing mock drafts through the playoffs as the draft pick position changes (or is expected to change). You can check out v1.0 here. As an added bonus, I will also be including a quick rundown of the second round, as well as a few picks I expect to see in the third round. Once the conference finalists are set, I’ll fire off v3.0. Enjoy!

ROUND 1

Pick Team Player Upside Downside Ht/Wt
1 Edmonton Nail Yakupov RW All Star winger, deadly shooter, good playmaker, has a physical edge Size and injuries are a concern 5’10, 189
2 Columbus Alex Galchenyuk C Top line center with good two way play May not have elite offensive skills, knee injury 6’0, 198
3 Montreal Mikhail Grigorenko C All Star center with good scoring and playmaking skills Effort and consistency have been a problem, huge upside but huge risk 6’3, 200
4 NY Islanders Mathew Dumba D Top powerplay defenseman with a physical edge Decision making needs work 6’0, 183
5 Toronto Ryan Murray D Smooth skating top pairing defenseman Has limited offensive upside and not very physical 6’0, 201
6 Anaheim Filip Forsberg LW Top line power forward Skating needs a lot of work to play first line minutes 6’2, 181
7 Minnesota Radek Faksa C Second line power forward Like Forsberg, his skating needs work 6’3, 202
8 Carolina Jacob Trouba D Excellent two way second pairing defenseman Decision making and discipline are a concern 6’2, 198
9 Winnipeg Teuvo Teravainen LW First line playmaking winger Needs to get significantly bigger to handle the NHL 5’11, 165
10 Tampa Bay Morgan Rielly D Top pp defenseman, second pair at even strength Defensive play is suspect, missed most of season with a knee injury 6’0, 190
11 Washington* Griffin Reinhart D Physical shutdown defenseman, second pair at even strength Consistency is an issue, limited offensive upside 6’4, 207
12 Buffalo Zemgus Girgensons C Physical second line center Offensive ability may be limited 6’2, 198
13 Dallas Cody Ceci D Solid two way second pair defenseman Doesn’t have high end offensive or defensive ability, not very physical 6’2, 207
14 Calgary Sebastien Collberg RW Skilled second line winger with playmaking ability Needs to improve strength, consistency and defensive zone play 5’11, 176
15 Ottawa Matt Finn D Hard working second pair, two way defenseman Could get bigger, skating needs to get better, puck skills need work 6’0, 195
16 Washington Brendan Gaunce C Second or third line center, with good size and good all around game Could improve physicality, skating needs work, can improve puck skills 6’2, 215
17 Columbus** Pontus Aberg LW Creative, two way second liner with a good shot Needs to get bigger, passing needs work 5’11, 194
18 San Jose Derrick Pouliot D Second pairing puck moving defenseman Undersized, suspect defensively, and can be careless with the puck 5’11, 186
19 Chicago Olli Maata D Stay at home second pair defenseman with a good first pass Skating needs improvement and has limited offensive skills 6’2, 202
20 New Jersey Hampus Lindholm D Great skating, two way defender Offensive and defensive upside are question marks, needs to bulk up 6’2, 196
21 Tampa Bay*** Malcolm Subban G Starting goalie, quick pads and glove, solid rebound control Inconsistency and injury concerns 6’1, 188
22 Buffalo**** Tomas Hertl C Offensively skilled second liner with decent grit A poor skater and questionable defensively 6’2, 198
23 Pittsburgh Brady Skjei D Good skating, two way second pair defenseman Is inconsistent, not physical, and may be limited offensively 6’3, 200
24 Florida Stefan Matteau C Hard working, intelligent two way second/third liner May not have the offensive skill to play top six 6’2, 210
25 Boston Tom Wilson RW Bruising power forward, probably on the 3rd line, chance of 2nd Skating needs a lot of work, puck skills are limited 6’4, 203
26 Vancouver Scott Kosmachuk RW Hard working, physical second liner with some offensive punch May not have top six skill, size may decrease impact of physical play 6’0, 185
27 Philadelphia Slater Koekkek D Big, solid 2nd pair defenseman with decent puck skills Decision making with the puck, skating needs a little work 6’2, 184
28 Phoenix Ville Pokka D Defensive oriented second pair defenseman, with a chance of offensive upside Offensive ability is debatable, skating needs work 6’0, 196
29 St. Louis Mike Matheson D Good skater, offensive minded second pair defenseman Needs to add size and improve skill to be an NHLer 6’1, 178
30 NY Rangers Ludvik Bystrom D Intelligent, mobile, second pair defenseman Not physical, offensive skills need improvement 6’1, 208

ROUND 2

Pick Team Player Ht/Wt
1 Columbus Andrei Vasilevski G 6’3, 204
2 Edmonton Dalton Thrower D 5’11, 189
3 Montreal Martin Frk RW 6’0, 204
4 NY Islanders Colton Sissons C 6’1, 189
5 Toronto Scott Laughton C 6’0, 177
6 Anaheim Damon Severson D 6’2, 200
7 Tampa Bay^ Phil Giuseppe LW 6’0, 176
8 Carolina Nic Kerdiles LW 6’2, 201
9 Winnipeg Tanner Pearson LW 6’0, 198
10 Tampa Bay Anton Slepyshev LW 6’2, 187
11 Colorado Cristoval Nieves C 6’3, 184
12 Buffalo Jordan Schmaltz D 6’2, 189
13 Dallas Mike Winther C 5’11, 175
14 Buffalo^^ Daniil Zharkov LW 6’3, 197
15 Columbus^^^ Tim Bozon LW 6’0, 183
16 Minnesota+ Mikko Vainonen D 6’3, 205
17 Dallas++ Jarrod Maidens LW 6’0, 178
18 Carolina+++ Chandler Stephenson LW 5’10, 192
19 Chicago Oscar Dansk G 6’2, 186
20 New Jersey Troy Bourke LW 5’10, 156
21 Detroit Andreas Athanasiou LW 6’0, 179
22 Montreal~ Mark Jankowski C 6’2, 170
23 Pittsburgh Tomas Hyka RW 5’11, 160
24 Florida Brady Vail C 6’0, 195
55 San Jose~~ Nikolai Prokhorkin LW 6’2, 191
56 Colorado~~~ Gemel Smith C 5’10, 160
57 Vancouver Dane Fox C 6’0, 185
58 Tampa Bay# Patrick Sieloff D 6.0, 198
59 Phoenix Erik Karlsson C 6’0, 162
60 St. Louis Lukas Sutter C 6’0, 207
61 NY Rangers Calle Andersson D 6’2, 208

Honorable Mention & Notes

Christian Djoos, D, 5’11, 158
Brandon Whitney, G, 6’5, 193
James Melindy, D, 6’2, 191
Raphael Bussieres, LW, 6’1, 195
Samuel Kurker, RW, 6’2, 198
Matia Marcantuoni, C, 6’0, 194
Nick Ebert, D, 6’1, 195
Gianluca Curcurto, D, 6’0, 195

* from Colorado
**from Los Angeles
*** from Detroit
**** from Nashville
^ from Minnesota via San Jose
^^ from Calgary
^^^ from Ottawa via Phoenix
“+” from Washington via New Jersey
“++” from Los Angeles via Philadelphia
“+++” from San Jose
~ from Nashville
~~ compensatory selection for failing to sign Patrick White
~~~ from Boston via Toronto
# from Philadelphia

 

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Mock Draft v1.0

Posted by The Coach on April 22, 2012
Draft / 4 Comments
Pick Team Player Upside Downside Ht/Wt
1 Edmonton Nail Yakupov RW All Star winger, deadly shooter, good playmaker, has a physical edge Size and injuries are a concern 5’10, 189
2 Columbus Alex Galchenyuk C Top line center with good two way play May not have elite offensive skills, knee injury 6’0, 198
3 Montreal Mikhail Grigorenko C All Star center with good scoring and playmaking skills Effort and consistency have been a problem, huge upside but huge risk 6’3, 200
4 NY Islanders Mathew Dumba D Top powerplay defenseman with a physical edge Decision making needs work 6’0, 183
5 Toronto Ryan Murray D Smooth skating top pairing defenseman Has limited offensive upside and not very physical 6’0, 201
6 Anaheim Filip Forsberg LW Top line power forward Skating needs a lot of work to play first line minutes 6’2, 181
7 Minnesota Radek Faksa C Second line power forward Like Forsberg, his skating needs work 6’3, 202
8 Carolina Jacob Trouba D Excellent two way second pairing defenseman Decision making and discipline are a concern 6’2, 198
9 Winnipeg Teuvo Teravainen LW First line playmaking winger Needs to get significantly bigger to handle the NHL 5’11, 165
10 Tampa Bay Morgan Rielly D Top pp defenseman, second pair at even strength Defensive play is suspect, missed most of season with a knee injury 6’0, 190
11 Washington* Griffin Reinhart D Physical shutdown defenseman, second pair at even strength Consistency is an issue, limited offensive upside 6’4, 207
12 Buffalo Zemgus Girgensons C Physical second line center Offensive ability may be limited 6’2, 198
13 Dallas Cody Ceci D Solid two way second pair defenseman Doesn’t have high end offensive or defensive ability, not very physical 6’2, 207
14 Calgary Sebastien Collberg RW Skilled second line winger with playmaking ability Needs to improve strength, consistency and defensive zone play 5’11, 176
15 Washington Brendan Gaunce C Second or third line center, with good size and good all around game Could improve physicality, skating needs work, can improve puck skills 6’2, 215
16 Ottawa Matt Finn D Hard working second pair, two way defenseman Could get bigger, skating needs to get better, puck skills need work 6’0, 195
17 Columbus** Pontus Aberg LW Creative, two way second liner with a good shot Needs to get bigger, passing needs work 5’11, 194
18 San Jose Derrick Pouliot D Second pairing puck moving defenseman Undersized, suspect defensively, and can be careless with the puck 5’11, 186
19 Chicago Olli Maata D Stay at home second pair defenseman with a good first pass Skating needs improvement and has limited offensive skills 6’2, 202
20 New Jersey Hampus Lindholm D Great skating, two way defender Offensive and defensive upside are question marks, needs to bulk up 6’2, 196
21 Tampa Bay*** Malcolm Subban G Starting goalie, quick pads and glove, solid rebound control Inconsistency and injury concerns 6’1, 188
22 Philadelphia Tom Wilson RW Bruising power forward, probably on the 3rd line, chance of 2nd Skating needs a lot of work, puck skills are limited 6’4, 203
23 Buffalo**** Tomas Hertl C Offensively skilled second liner with decent grit A poor skater and questionable defensively 6’2, 198
24 Pittsburgh Brady Skjei D Good skating, two way second pair defenseman Is inconsistent, not physical, and may be limited offensively 6’3, 200
25 Florida Stefan Matteau C Hard working, intelligent two way second/third liner May not have the offensive skill to play top six 6’2, 210
26 Phoenix Ville Pokka D Defensive oriented second pair defenseman, with a chance of offensive upside Offensive ability is debatable, skating needs work 6’0, 196
27 Boston Scott Kosmachuk RW Hard working, physical second liner with some offensive punch May not have top six skill, size may decrease impact of physical play 6’0, 185
28 St. Louis Mike Matheson D Good skater, offensive minded second pair defenseman Needs to add size and improve skill to be an NHLer 6’1, 178
29 NY Rangers Ludvik Bystrom D Intelligent, mobile, second pair defenseman Not physical, offensive skills need improvement 6’1, 208
30 Vancouver Scott Laughton C Strong, gritty two way center with a little offensive punch Probably not a top six player, needs to bulk up 6’0, 177

Honorable mention
Andrei Vasilevski, G, 6’3, 204
Colton Sissons, C, 6’1, 189
Anton Slepyshev, LW, 6’2, 187
Martin Frk, RW, 6’0, 204
Slater Koekkek, D, 6’2, 184
Dalton Thrower, D, 5’11, 189
Phil Giuseppe, LW, 6’0, 176
Damon Severson, D, 6’2, 200
Tanner Pearson, LW, 6’0, 198
Mike Winther, C, 5’11, 175
Nic Kerdiles, LW, 6’2, 201
Chandler Stephenson, LW, 5’10, 192
Erik Karlsson, C, 6’0, 162
Nikolai Prokhorkin, LW, 6’2, 191

* via Colorado
**via Los Angeles
*** via Detroit
**** via Nashville

Note: The draft order reflects the first round seeding. A new version will be posted at the end of each round reflecting the updated draft order.

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The Potential Trading of the Number One Pick

Posted by Canadan82 on March 13, 2012
Draft / No Comments

There has been plenty of discussion (or from what I have seen, more so dispair) regarding the reports that the Blue Jackets are shopping their potential first overall pick in the upcoming draft.  With thirteen regular season games remaining, Columbus sits eight points back of 29th Edmonton, and thirteen points back of 28th place Montreal.  While nothing is impossible, I am reasonably confident at this point that Columbus will finish 30th, and pending a disaster at the lottery, will own the 1st pick in the upcoming draft.

So why trade it? What real value does that pick hold for a team like Columbus, primed to ‘rebuild’ or ‘reshape’ this year?  I think there are a couple very good reasons;

First, the Russian factor.  Admittedly both Yakupov and Grigorenko are very different scenarios from former first round picks Zherdev and Filatov, but it doesn’t open the door for comfort, at least from where I am standing.  Yakupov is a great interview and has been suggested to have a tremendous work ethic, but recently suffered his second concussion of the season.  He has also had his knee surgically repaired.  Both of these injuries cause reason to be concerned about his long term health, and while they aren’t going to plummet his draft value too much, will probably bring him a bit closer to the pack.

Grigorenko is an interesting option.  He will have played a full year of Canadian junior hockey before entering the draft, and thus far has dominated with well over a point a game for the Remparts of the QMJHL.  For as much value as playing in North America brings, I get concerned with players who come from the QMJHL because I find the OHL and the WHL to be more physical, with the WHL being the closest to the NHL style of play.  With that in mind, I would still have concerns about Grigorenko’s ability to transition to the NHL, and being that I have no idea what his work ethic is like, would need to get a greater knowledge of him before judging him in that regard.

The simple truth is that Columbus has been burned in the past. It is not news to anyone that treading lightly around any Russian player with a pick like this would be the smart thing to do, and if another team were willing to deal their top five pick and a current rostered player to get their hands on one, it may be the best option for the Jackets. This seems especially true considering players like Dumba, Murray, and Galchenyuk are the secondary options this year after the consensus 1 and 2 of Yakupov and Grigorenko.

From my perspective, if the 1-2 pick options were North American born, with a quality history of leadership and good health, I would be troubled by these rumours.  Players like Toews, Crosby, Stamkos, and Tavares are recent top picks who have gone on to become major contributors both on and off the ice for their team.  I do not remember thinking of any of them with the wildcard status I personally believe both Yakupov and Grigorenko to be, and I believe that as far as sure things go, they would not be my first choice.  Kovalchuk and Ovechkin are the only two Russian born players to go first overall in the NHL draft, showing just how consistent the quality of selection is in favour of North American born players.

I want to also touch on these rumours spreading about the pick being shopped. It is probably true that Columbus is weighing the possible value of trading down, and it is also possible that they deal the pick, but try to avoid reading these rumours as “they WILL deal the pick.”  Just like with any asset, it is always a good idea to see what the value is, and if a team is willing to overpay to get a guy like Grigorenko or Yakupov but still provides a top 5-6 pick for the Jackets, management would be wise to consider and potentially make a trade to avoid another potential bust.  Based on the experience with Russian born players in the past, can you really blame the organization for looking for other options?

What do you think? Is injury riddled Yakupov worth the risk? Do you respect Patrick and Howson’s attempt to at least see what is out there?

Carry the Flag!

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Building a Winner Through the Draft

Posted by Canadan82 on January 25, 2012
Team Discussion / No Comments

There has been a lot of dissatisfaction about the Columbus Blue Jackets record this year.  They sit in 30th in the National Hockey League at 13-30-6, nine points off 29th ranked Edmonton, and are currently riding a four game losing streak.  It comes at no surprise that the fans are at their wits end with losing, and yet, all this losing could be the best thing Columbus has done since drafting Rick Nash.

What I have compiled below is a collection of teams who utilized the draft (more than likely unintentionally) to produce teams far stronger than their General Managers could trade for.  In fact, in every case, they provided the foundation of the team through drafting franchise players at extremely high picks.  What Columbus has failed to do, is play poorly enough to achieve a franchise level player. Drafting players like Voracek (7th) and Brassard (6th) certainly provide the opportunity for growth in the long term, but they don’t do a great job of producing players the team can build around.

If you want a comparison to Jake and Brass, consider who was drafted prior to them in their draft years.  For Brassard, it was a collection of sturdy talent. Erik Johnson, Jordan Staal, Jonathan Toews, Niklas Backstrom, and Phil Kessel.  Up until Brassard’s pick, I would probably be comfortable in replacing him with at least 3-4 of the top five picks that year.  When you consider the impact of a player like Toews or Backstrom vs a player like Brassard (or Okposo, Mueller, Frolik – who were drafted after him) you can quickly see the difference between a player with the potential to become a top line player, and a pick who immediately becomes a player of relevance on a team.

In Voracek’s year, the top tier picks were more limited, but drafting first or second overall provided the rights to Patrick Kane, and James Van Reimsdyk.  Now, “Reimer” did not really jump into the top of Philadelphia’s system out of his draft summer, but Patrick Kane most certainly did.  He became a franchise player for Chicago, and was pivotal in their cup win.  As you can see, once again, being forced to wait until the 7th pick did not allow Columbus to draft a franchise player.  Simply a player who had the potential of being a top line forward, but more realistically, a strong second line player.

Let’s move on to a couple of examples of teams building through the draft:

Chicago

Longest Cup Drought :: 49 years
Playoff Drought :: One appearance in 10 years (1st round exit)
Worst year in Process :: 20-43-11-8 59pts
Worst Attendance Year :: 12,727 – 07/08
Draft Results :: Barker (3rd) Skille (7th) Kane (1st) Toews (3rd)

Chicago was a team who went through tremendous hardship during their ten years of mediocrity.  One playoff appearance, major ownership battles, blackouts, and no real identity.  Yet during that time, they were able to draft three times in the top three slots.  It brought them two top tier players (who are definitive franchise players) and a couple of other quality depth players. I will note that Barker’s draft year was relatively terrible for talent, and he was third only to Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin. Talk about a drop in quality!!

They suffered a great deal in order to get their franchise on the right track, as well as making relatively bad deals like the Brian Campbell contract (read: way worse than Wiz’s contract) to the point where they actually had to purge half their depth after their cup year.  With that said, their patience paid off, and they are now a deep team with strong, fan favoured players locked in for years.

Pittsburgh

Longest Cup Drought :: 24 years
Playoff Drought :: four straight seasons
Worst Year in Process :: 22-46-14 58pts
Worst Attendance Year :: 11,877 – 06/07
Draft Results :: Whitney (5) Fleury (1) Malkin (2) Crosby (1) Staal (2)

It’s hard to believe a team as strong as Pittsburgh was so bad for half a decade.  Four seasons out of the playoffs, including a 58 point season at their low point.  Another team steeped in ownership issues, money issues, building issues, and fans dwindling down to under 12k in the 2006/2007 season.  When you look at a team who really struggled to regain their footing, you may as well look no further than the Penguins.

With that said, they made their fortune in the draft.  It wasn’t a matter of tremendous deals by the General Manager, or a free agent acquisition that vaulted their excellence.  Ryan Whitney, Marc-Andre Fleury, Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, and Jordan Staal.  Five players that would probably be on any GMs wish list.  To their credit, they managed to find a tremendous coach in Dan Bylsma, but this is a prime example of becoming a legitimate contender through being terrible. A franchise goalie, a franchise captain, a franchise Russian. What more could they possibly have asked for?

Edmonton


Longest Cup Drought :: 21 years and counting
Playoff Drought :: This will be year 6
Worst Year in Process :: 25-45-12 62pts
Worst Attendance Year :: None. 100% every year. Go Canada
Draft Results :: Gagner (6) Hall (1) Nugent-Hopkins (1)

Edmonton is an interesting example because they are right at the forefront of the process. Two years into drafting the top pick overall, and well on their way to potentially finishing in the bottom three again this year, which will get them either a top tier defenseman, or another elite scoring forward.  I included Sam Gagner at 6th overall as a prime example of the difference between 1st and 6th. Gagner is a decent depth forward for Edmonton, and is fairly comparable to our very own Brassard.  His development is long, and his plateau is hard to anticipate. On the other end of the spectrum, Taylor Hall is a sure fire franchise player, an elite scorer within weeks of entering the NHL, and a franchise player.  The same appears to ring true for Nugent-Hopkins.

A credit to the fans in Edmonton for not faltering in attendance, or generating a bunch of ‘we deserve better’ campaigns.  They comprehend that building a winner the correct way takes time, and Edmonton, unfortunately, was extremely low on viable assets at the beginning of this process.  I will say though, in terms of comparing, they allow their youth to factor into games, and it probably makes the losing a fair bit more exciting.

So back to Columbus. For arguments sake, I’ll set it up the same way:

Longest Cup Drought :: 10 years and counting
Playoff Drought :: 7 years
Worst Year in Process :: 22-47-8-5 57pts
Worst Attendance Year :: 13,658 10/11
Draft Results :: Brassard (6) Johansen (4)

I left off Nash, and really only added Brassard in reference to comments made earlier because they were not in the same scenario that my case studies were in prior to this year.  The Jackets have made a history out of drafting 6-10 each year, and simply have not played bad enough to build through the draft.  Their scouting department takes a hit every year for not striking gold in the middle of the first round, and while I can understand the disappointment, I also recognize that those complaints aren’t exactly fair or realistic.

What they need to do, quite frankly, is lose.  If they are going to be a team like Pittsburgh, Chicago, or Edmonton who is actively building through the draft, the Jackets need to play bad enough to acquire at worst, a top three pick.  Depth is great, and players like John Moore(21st) and Derick Brassard (6th) will do well to help the team in the long run, but they need a small group, even if it is only two players, who are defined as franchise level players upon their entry into the NHL.

The Jackets are nowhere near tolerating the droughts of some NHL teams in terms of winning a Stanley Cup.  They are undoubtedly one of the least successful in terms of making the playoffs, but the proper build is what will change that for the long term. Rather than paying into free agency, why not develop talent.  Stop bringing in bandaids, and let the youth create an identity for the team and the franchise, not unlike what Edmonton is allowing.

If we expect a winner, it’s time to reconsider the strategy. But if that strategy is going to be to build like these teams, get ready for at least another year of disappointment.

Carry the Flag!

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