- CTF Contributor: Canadan82
A lot has been made about Columbus' drafting capacity over the last week or so. Carry the Flag has covered it and weighed in on how reasonable - or unreasonable - that assessment was. Being that we clearly have some opposition, I decided it might be a great opportunity to really collect some data and see just what they could have done instead over the handful of years since the lockout (we had to stop somewhere) during draft day. I am excluding the last two drafts because they do not provide ample time to determine the quality of the players taken.
With that said, I will be compiling four specific articles, one for the 2008, 2007, 2006, and 2005 drafts. I will review Columbus' picks, and then consider the ten or more picks that followed, seeing whether Columbus really missed out on their choice. While I believe that most picks can only be weighed by the 3-5 picks following, it seemed to be a rather small sample size, and the simple matter of curiosity happened to get the best of me.
The main argument I have drawn for the Jackets has been their inability to finish in the bottom three more than once in franchise history. In fact, reading about Pittsburgh drafting 2nd (Malkin), 1st (Crosby), and 2nd (Staal) in three straight years frustrates me to no end. Not only did it provide them with arguably their three best players currently, their picks were all but decided by everyone before they even reached the podium. It was never a matter of quality scouting, but simply the logical choice (almost too much so, considering all three are centers). I then considered Chicago, who was fortunate enough to draft Jonathan Toews (3rd) and Patrick Kane (1st) in successive years, providing them with a 1-2 punch that directly helped them dig out of one of the darker spots in franchise history. The trend with these teams, if it is not obvious, is their collection of picks within the top three, guaranteeing them top tier talent every time they make their selection.
What I have come to believe is that the expectations out of Columbus' first round picks are beyond reason, and Aaron Portzline over at the Columbus Dispatch finally painted some reason into the minds of Columbus fans, noting that the Sedin twins (drafted 2nd and 3rd) took a number of seasons in secondary roles to find their games in the National Hockey League. ("It's not too Late for Voracek and Brassard") With Brassard and Voracek both struggling to get the support of the Columbus fanbase as top line players, certainly some time in secondary scoring roles would be of great benefit, giving them the opportunity to grow as players, without going against the league's best defenders on a nightly basis.
Columbus has had their share of lower draft picks beyond Nash. Klesla was drafted 4th overall but fought injuries his entire Columbus career. Nik Zherdev was taken 4th and rightfully so considering his level of talent, but could never give enough of a damn to fit into the lineup. That said, most recently, Ryan Johansen was taken 4th overall this past year, and has been heralded as one of the top prospects yet to play in the NHL. It would seem that given time, he could easily make his way into a top line role, but many argue that Columbus cannot be that patient in acquiring a top tier center.
With these notes on the table, I will get to work analyzing the four sample years noted, and will provide them as quickly as possible. It is time to really put this discussion to bed, stop what I believe to be fairly unrealistic expectations of the first round picks selected by the Blue Jackets, and give some credit where it is due to the Columbus scouting department.
Carry the Flag!