Nothing more perfectly symbolizes the "make it happen now" philopsophy than the virtual neon sign at Nationwide Arena suggesting that the 8th overall pick in Friday's NHL entry draft is open for bidding. That's right, NHL, if you want a solid second-tier draft position, pick up the phone and call Mr. Howson. He'll listen.
But I think that there's more at play here. Scott Howson isn't stupid. If he is looking for a top 6 center, or a top 4 defenseman, in exchange for his pick, I can't think that a draftee who likely wouldn't be projected to start on an NHL roster in 2011-12 could grab a GM's attention to the point that they'd be willing to give up the type of player that Howson desires (unless the other team is blowing up their roster, jettisoning salary and starting over with a young movement of their own - that's a totally different story). The 8th pick certainly is not a junk pick, but it's nothing close to a guaranteed future all-star. Ask Pascal Leclaire or Alexandre Picard, both of whom were taken in the 8th slot by the Blue Jackets in years past.
So here's my take: The 8th pick is less of a prize in and of itself than a throw-in. It's a deal-sweetener. What Howson is really doing by promoting his willingness to deal at the draft is advertising that his entire roster is available to be picked over at the Great NHL Garage Sale. (Well, everyone except Rick Nash.) If you're ready to give up your Jeff Carter (as many suggest the Philadelphia Flyers are) or some comparable near-all star talent, let the CBJ know who you want in exchange. If the Columbus player is not quite enough to seal the deal, they always can throw in the 8th pick. But don't give my team your tired, worn-out, huddled masses. Howson
If it takes the 8th pick, fine. More and more, I get the sense that the pick just isn't that important. The CBJ plan isn't about building for the future any more. It's about winning. NOW.