In a perfect world, picking number one overall would come with some kind of guarantee. Something like "by winning this selection and taking X player, we guarantee said player will have a statue outside your building 25 years from today." Sadly, there are no draft guarantees and close only counts in horseshoes. What value DOES the first overall pick give a franchise?
There are no Bobby Orr’s in this year’s draft, no Sid the Kid and no Golden Jet or Brett. However, there are some talented young men ready to take their place in the world’s best hockey league.
The Columbus Blue Jackets are the modern day Oakland Seals. Put on the planet so others would know what bad luck really looks like, the Jackets were robbed of the opportunity to at least draft first overall by the hockey Gods. Many expected major changes in the management in Columbus but that hasn’t happened yet. IF Scott Howson is still the GM, one imagines he’ll be typing many pages in preparation for this year’s draft.
Having the first overall pick does have some value. A team like Columbus could promote the pick as their new cornerstone and perhaps negate some of the negativity surrounding the inevitable Rick Nash trade. Some, not all. If getting the #1 overall comes as part of the Nash package, even better.
For Scott Howson, it’s a busy summer. After going to the crossroads to sell his soul (can you think of any other way to keep the job?) he’ll need to find full value for Rick Nash and then build a foundation for the future via the draft.
Which is where the number one pick might come in. I tend to agree with those who say Howson may be relieved that the Jackets no longer own the #1 overall pick. Russia has had its own version of scorched earth in Ohio for years now and it has been a horrible experience for Columbus. Their former GM is on television now, their old coaches are selling tires in Wawa and their former scouts whittle to pass the time.
However, Columbus is in good position to "broker" a deal, get the guy who is number one on their list and deliver a new face of the franchise to their beleaguered Ohio town.
THIS COULD END BADLY
Now hear me out. I think there’s a framework of a thee-way deal here, although specifics can be difficult (the devil is in the details). From where I set, these teams have the following assets that may be available:
- Edmonton assets: 1st overall pick, youth everywhere
- Columbus assets: 2nd overall pick, Rick Nash, Fedor Tyutin
- Toronto assets: 5th overall pick, Jake Gardiner, Nikoli Kulemin, others
Maybe Edmonton grabs Fedor Tyutin or Jake Gardiner and #2 overall and maybe Columbus gets #1, #5 and Jake Gardiner and maybe Toronto acquires Rick Nash and some other things. I think there’s enough ego from Toronto, enough need from Edmonton and enough desperation in Columbus for this scenario to be possible.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
There’s no easy way for the Oilers to parlay this #1 overall pick into two assets they can use but the Blue Jackets may hold the key. Edmonton has the hammer, and as we edge closer to draft day and teams decide their direction things will become more certain and Scott Howson may be in a position to satisfy Edmonton, walk off with the #1 overall selection and use it as an opportunity to both start a brand new day and give their fanbase a new franchise player.
That player? Nail Yakupov. Although he is in fact a Russian, Yakupov has played his junior hockey in Canada for the last two seasons and the CBJ draft failures from Russia (Zherdev and Filatov) played their junior hockey in the Motherland.
Furthermore, the entry level deals write themselves under the new CBA and the young man has expressed the desire to stay in North America and make his name in the NHL.
He’s also a big personality, more of an Ovechkin type. Here’s an example:
I think Nail Yakupov is capable of convincing Howson to take him despite his birth certificate. If that happens, draft day could see an enormous trade involving your Edmonton Oilers.