Well, the 1st Pick is in and to no one's surprise, the readers at Canes Country believes that Edmonton will take Nail Yakupov 1st Overall. The Oilers add another young, skilled, point producer to their forward ranks. They really should be one of the more exciting team to watch and should be able to put up a lot of goals. Now if they can just address their defensive issues they should be able to become a consistent Playoff team for years to come.
Up next are the Columbus Blue Jackets with the #2 Pick, so Columbus is now on the clock!
The Blue Jackets are a team in a difficult situation. They tried to make some big moves last offseason and it more or less blew up in their face. Now gone are Jeff Carter, Jakub Voracek, the 2011 8th Overall Selection (which resulted in Sean Couturier) and the 2011 68th Overall Selection (which resulted in Nick Cousins). It also appears that the face of their franchise (Rick Nash) will also be on the move this summer. So the Blue Jackets look like they are heading into a pretty significant rebuild. They have a couple of good pieces in place, highlighted by Ryan Johansen, Jack Johnson, and James Wisniewski. But they really in need of pretty much everything. If Nash does end up leaving, they are completely devoid of any 1st line talent. Their goaltending situation is not on the most stable ground and they could use some upgrades in their defensive corp. So the Jackets could really go in almost any direction at the draft. But given their history with Russian players, I would not expect them to select a Russian with the #2 Pick. One option that might actually serve them best would be to trade down so they can acquire some more assets, but they have to be careful if they choose to go this route. So you're Columbus' GM, what do you do with the #2 Pick?
Alex Galchenyuk - C
Galchenyuk is a tremendous talent that has everything you want in a center. He's got a little size, a strong work ethic, a top-notch hockey sense, and he plays a good two-way game. Some scouts believe that he could be the player with the highest upside in this draft. But he is coming off a serious knee injury that caused him to miss most of last season. But if you are a team starting a rebuild, what better place to start than a true #1 center? If Columbus selects Galchenyuk and he returns to form, along with Johansen, they have a foundation to build a solid top 6. And even though he is of Russian descent, I don't believe the Jackets have anything to worry about in regards to Galchenyuk.
Ryan Murray - D
While Columbus hasn't been horrible at drafting players, they have had a few top 10 picks that didn't pan out. So they might be willing to make the safest pick at #2 and Ryan Murray is probably the safest pick. He doesn't necessarily have the upside of Galchenyuk, Forsberg or Grigorenko, but he projects as a long-term top 4 defenseman. And while Columbus has some good defensemen & defensive prospects, Murray would be that guy that could pull everything together. He doesn't put up great numbers and he is not overly physical, but the kid is solid. He is a true two-way defenseman and have leadership abilities. If Nash does get traded, Columbus will be looking for a new captain and Murray has the characteristic to handle that responsibility in a couple of years. Defense is how you win championships in the NHL, so rebuilding with a solid defensive leader might prove to be a smart move.
Filip Forsberg - RW
Forsberg is budding offensive dynamo that has a tremendous amount of speed and an uncanny ability to control the puck. He is one of the younger players in this draft, but his potential is real high. He definitely needs to fill out more, but he is stronger than he looks. He also has very good hands and great vision to go along with his skating abilities. There is really not a lot to dislike about his game, but he has a little more development to do. I've heard that he is expected to return to Europe next season, so he wouldn't help out the Jackets immediately. But the Jackets are not going to make a Playoff push next season, so some more development time in Sweden is not necessarily going to hurt. Some have compared him to Corey Perry and even Rick Nash, but he will need to get a little bigger to get to that level in the NHL. He is an interesting prospect that could be a real find for whatever team selects him.
Mikhail Grigorenko - C
Grigorenko is one of the most offensively talented players in this draft. He is a fabulous goal scorer as well as someone who can dish the puck. He has been compared to Evgeni Malkin and they do share a similar type of game, but I don't believe Grigorenko is quite up to Malkin's level (but still very good). He isn't the strongest defensive player and there are questions about his work ethic. But some of that could have been a result of him battling mono and still suffering from it. But the question itself will make GM's think twice about drafting him and there is always the "Russian factor". Whatever the case may be, Grigorenko is probably only second to Yakupov in skill and some scouts don't believe they are far apart in that department. He could result in a extremely talented player that just never works out or he could be one of those players that falls a little and burns the league for passing on him. Only time will tell, but I'm pretty confident that Columbus will not take the risk of making Grigorenko the #2 selection.
While I present this option during the 1st Pick, I really believe this could be a better option for the owners of the #2 Pick. While Nail Yakupov is the consensus #1, their doesn't appear to be any clear cut #2. I think at least one team could argue for any one of Galchenyuk, Murray, Grigorenko, or Forsberg at the 2nd best player in this draft and some teams might be willing to move up to grab one of those guys. It has been rumored that Toronto & Edmonton have been in discussion about switching picks plus Edmonton getting Luke Schenn. The issue there is that Toronto really needs a center more than a right wing and the top center in the draft would be available at #2. I think a Toronto & Columbus swap could be a smart decision. This would allow Toronto to take Galchenyuk to finally get their #1 center to play with Kessel. And would allow Columbus to potentially pick up a good young defenseman and still select one of the top 5 players in the draft. Other teams could make pitches, but I wouldn't suggest that Columbus drops down to far because they are in the rebuilding process.