The vast majority of the Carolina Hurricanes (other than undrafted signees like LaRose and Samson) begin their NHL pro careers as draft picks. They're the precious tokens given each year (if not traded away by the org's GM, that is) for them to use to place their bets on the collection of mostly 18-year-old talent that's there to be divided amongst the 30 teams.
Some picks, of course, turn out to be total busts. They just never make it in the NHL at all. It's to be expected in the later rounds, where the odds are low for them to push their way past the talent in front of them. But it sometimes happens at the highest levels, and Carolina has certainly had their share of busts, particularly before 2002, as discussed in an earlier August 1st FanPost I authored, entitled "Drafting for Wealth, Health, and Control".
The other extreme is a draft pick that not only turns into a NHL player, but plays for the org that drafted them their entire NHL career. That can be as long as say Steve Yzerman's 22-year NHL career with the Red Wings. Maybe Staal, or even Ward, will be that type of player for us, even if not for so many seasons.
And, in between are draft picks that turn into NHL players but only for days, weeks, months, or even years, but flame out and are either dropped off NHL payrolls or traded away.
But the shrewd GM wants to identify these casualties early and pick the latter trade option as quickly as possible, so as to keep the flame that is that draft pick alive, ideally as a serviceable NHL asset, but as a potential NHL prospect or the pure form of a future draft pick, if nothing else.
As an example, follow the bouncing ball that began as a second-round draft pick that JR made in 2003, the year we selected Eric Staal 2nd overall. We had the 31st overall pick that season (finished dead last, but lost the lottery, so slid back to #2 in the first round) and selected Danny Richmond (D).
Danny is a scrappy D-man that more than made up for lack of size with "spunk", but when the opportunity came along to make a straight-up trade with Chicago in January 2006 for Anton Babchuk, with a side exchange of 4th round draft picks to make the values work out (their way).
Suddenly, JR had upgraded his 2003 2nd rounder to a 21st overall 2002 D-man that was a bit of a project (abandoned by Chicago) but right up JR's reclamation project alley. Plus, he provided depth as JR was loading up for our Cup run and it was obvious from his 10 games so far that season that Danny was not a serviceable piece of that puzzle.
Anton didn't play in the playoffs, but the team lobbied to have his name added to the Cup and he even shared a day with it in Kiev, Ukraine with teammate Oleg Tverdovsky. So...a little context as to why JR was so miffed when Anton balked on him later. But, I digress. :-)
Danny spun off for partial NHL seasons, bouncing up and down from Norfolk to Chicago and is currently with the Toronto Marlies. And JR funneled Anton's return from the KHL into a partial season for us (evaluation and scouting purposes) before converting his original 2003 second-rounder D-man pick into defenseman Ian White. Admittedly, the valuation is a bit fuzzy here, since it was a four-player trade: Anton Babchuk/Tom Kostopoulos <-> Ian White/Brett Sutter. But the D variable is what we're tracking, with the forward variable being it's own basic equivalency of "serviceable now" for "futures" trade that GM's routinely perform.
You know the rest, as White now sleeps with the Sharks, and JR's original 2003 second rounder now lives and breathes amongst us in the form of Derek Joslin, a 2005 fifth-round D-man that appears to be a NHL serviceable asset. Yes, I know he was part of a separate "future considerations" deal, but I believe it was an "earnest money" side transaction between the GM's for the White deal to be reserved for them while valuations were determined, assuming that there were probably other interested parties.
Plus, note that JR also holds the Shark's second-round draft pick in 2012...which will be a full nine years later from the original 2003 draft pick that began life as current Toronto Marlie defenseman, Danny Richmond, and spun off current 23-year-old Canes defenseman Derek Joslin on its way to potentially yet another a new life as a NHL'er beginning in 2012.
Way to keep that wave rolling, JR. :-)