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Columnist: Jackets should trade their first-round pick so they don’t choose another Russian

Mar 18, 2012, 2:03 PM EDT

Nikita Filatov Getty Images

The Columbus Blue Jackets are poised to pick first overall this summer at the NHL draft. In the past when they’ve had high picks, they’ve had some trouble. While they were able to snag Rick Nash first overall in 2002, they’ve had issues in other years.

With this year’s draft featuring top prospects like Russians Nail Yakupov and Mikhail Grigorenko, the Jackets are in a curious position. Toronto Sun columnist Steve Simmons says he has a solution for Columbus: Trade away their first-round pick to avoid having to take a potential Russian superstar.

Twice in recent history, the Jackets used an early pick on a Russian forward. Twice they failed. It didn’t work out with Nikolai Zherdev or with Nikita Filatov. They can’t afford to fail a third time with the franchise so tender.

The options, along with dealing Nash, are this for Columbus: 1) They could keep the pick and not choose Yakupov, which would be counter-productive; 2) They could flip picks with another team, trading the first choice for another early choice, and getting an asset as well; 3) They could trade the pick to the highest bidder and begin rebuilding their team.

The problem here is that guys like Filatov and Zherdev weren’t labeled as “can’t miss” prospects. Yakupov and Grigorenko are potential franchise-changing players given what they’ve been able to do as juniors. If the Jackets wind up dealing Nash this summer, they’re going to need someone to fill his role as the offensive go-to guy and to do that they’ll need it to come from one of these future stars.

Then again, with how miserably the Blue Jackets have been run throughout their short history, blowing this situation would be all too familiar of a circumstance.

  1. broadstbully33 - Mar 18, 2012 at 2:15 PM

    that has to be the dumbest thing I’ve heard in a long long long time

  2. gbiscottagecheesefatties - Mar 18, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    Fail for Nail

    go Wild

    • lostpuppysyndrome - Mar 18, 2012 at 2:51 PM

      As much as it would be nice for the Wild to take Nail, they need the D. Granlund, Coyle, Philips, and Zucker will provide plenty of firepower for the future. They need some big gritty stay-at-home shut-down D men.

      • gbiscottagecheesefatties - Mar 18, 2012 at 2:53 PM

        if were talking about a top two pick, maybe top 3.. you take one of the Russians, no doubt about it…

        I would take Murray at #4 but not before and it’s not even close!!!!!

      • gbiscottagecheesefatties - Mar 18, 2012 at 3:05 PM

        also, I can’t imagine Phillips ever cracking the NHL with his skating abilities… .Yes the Wild have some good prospects at forward right now but none are projecting to be top end scoring talent, maybe Granlund as an assist machine and Coyle being a solid power forward…. Would love to see high end talent in Yakupov or Grigs (maybe forsberg) join the Wild… I completely agree the Wild need D, but I just don’t like the idea of taking D in the Top 3 this year. I don’t see Murray as a better prospect than the Russians. Take the best player available not need, and no matter how you look at it, the Wild need a bit of everything, can’t go wrong.

        cheers :)

      • lostpuppysyndrome - Mar 18, 2012 at 8:27 PM

        The prospect of Nail playing with Granlund is enough to give me peepee shivers…

  3. bcisleman - Mar 18, 2012 at 2:21 PM

    For all the abuse heaped on Don Cherry for his flag waving with regard to Canadian and more especially Ontario based players, he is by no means alone. A number of Canadian journalists–Simmons included–are also guilty.

    So far from trading the #1 pick–assuming the lottery does not award it to another bottom five team–CBJ should try to convince Nash to accept a trade to one of the teams with the 2nd or 3rd pick so that they can draft Grigorenko or Galchenyuk.

    The fact is that, although this is a defense-heavy draft, if the CBJ are going to trade Nash, they need elite forwards and–apart from Filip Forsberg, the only obvious elite forwards are Russian.

  4. laurely515 - Mar 18, 2012 at 2:30 PM

    Not taking Russians was Bob Clarke’s policy for decades. It went terribly. Just take the best player.

  5. jaybertx - Mar 18, 2012 at 3:43 PM

    The Russians must break you.

  6. drewsylvania - Mar 18, 2012 at 3:57 PM

    Read the actual article linked before you do what Yerdon is hoping you’ll do, which is bash Simmons.

    The article quotes an NHL executive as having the opinion that CBJ will trade the pick because they can’t pick a Russian. So the “fault” here is murky.

    Yerdon/PHT are simply baiting you in their usual, class-free way.

    • Joe Yerdon - Mar 18, 2012 at 4:44 PM

      Simmons is stirring the pot and I’m pointing it out as silly. What’s the problem?

      • drewsylvania - Mar 18, 2012 at 7:36 PM

        No. You are stirring the pot. Simmons is quoting someone else. He’s not the one saying that CBJ should pick a Russian–it’s the unnamed executive saying it.

  7. revansrevenant - Mar 18, 2012 at 4:02 PM

    It’s not as stupid as it sounds, if they can get the right ransom for it. A top three pick should at least be worth a first and second round pick in this years draft, and possibly a first or second in next years as well. I’d say that given Columbus’ history in the draft, three picks in the early part of the draft might be worth more than one right at the start. What with more bites at the apple and all that.

  8. Brian - Mar 18, 2012 at 5:06 PM

    Saying Filatov wasn’t “labeled as a can’t miss prospect” before his draft year is some kind of revisionist history. He most certainly was called “can’t miss” by many and some certainly thought he should’ve gone higher than he did.

  9. smgraff4 - Mar 18, 2012 at 6:09 PM

    Given the Yevgeni Kuznetsov drama here in DC, I don’t blame the Jackets for wanting to trade down to take a Canadian or American player playing in his home league, even if the guy has played a number of seasons in the North American junior ranks. Keep in mind Radulov played in the CHL, and was drafted out of the CHL–so going to the KHL was not exactly a return home for him, but he did it anyway.

  10. contraryguy - Mar 18, 2012 at 11:40 PM

    Leaving the game aside, I don’t think there is any place in Cbus for a Russian player to be comfortable. There’s simply no European presence here at all. What’s the point of having a fat contract if you can’t act like some post-Soviet oil baron, because nobody cares here? So if one finds themselves drafted by the Jackets, can’t say I’d blame them if they wanted out from day one; it’s not their kinda playground.

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