Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Difference Between Picking 6th or 9th

Recently a reader chastised me for my constant harping on our draft position, and suggested that I embrace the Blue Jackets current run of good play.  I think the reader's attitude misrepresents my track record, as I think I have waffled back and forth from agitating for tank mode to insisting that a 'winning culture' is more important on an almost game by game basis.  In other words, the reader implies a certain constancy that I don't think I have shown.  So why waffle?

Before I go further, I am relying (i.e. poaching) from on Mike MacLean (@mejmaclean) over on the Cannon, particularly his mock draft post back on March 13th.  Part of my waffling has to do with the potential to sink into the top five picks, which we flirted with earlier in late February and early March.  That puts you in position to draft a pretty darn good player, probably choosing between Dylan Strome, Noah Hannifan, or Mitch Marner, depending upon who was available.  But once you drop out of that top 5, the urgency over a particular draft position drops.  In the top 5 you either will, or have a great possibility of getting a player that is NHL ready.  Once you get out of the top 5, the chances that you will have a player who is ready NEXT YEAR starts to diminish.  That doesn't mean you won't get a really good player, they just may need a bit more development time to get into the NHL.

In the 6 through 9 slots you are likely looking at some of the following players, in order of Mike's anticipated draft order -Defenseman Zach Werenski, Forward Kyle Conner, Defenseman Ivan Provorov, Forward Mikko Rantanen, and Forward Lawson Crouse.  The common thread here is that these players will probably go into the developmental systems, but these are still a bunch of good players.  So the reality is that there is probably not huge difference in the 6-9 draft positions in terms of there immediate impact. At some level you increase your odds to strike gold with McDavid, but those odds aren't great either way, so you wouldn't want to base your strategy on that.

If you look at the Columbus Blue Jackets right now, the urgency for getting a player who comes into the lineup next year is rather low.  We have several young players who are slightly older who are ready to break into NHL roles, and once we start getting people healthy, its going to be a real challenge to crack the Blue Jacket lineup as a youngster.  In addition, Oliver Bjorkstrand finished his major junior hockey career with a bang, winning the scoring title in the WHL, and scoring more goals (63!) than anyone.  It is going to be interesting to see what happens when Wennberg is playing with Hartnell and Dano on his wings, and Karlsson is playing with Rychal and Bjorkstrand on his wings.  (wipes mouth because of uncontrollable drooling).

So I have come around to where I can pretty much accept anything that happens down the stretch here, so I want to watch entertaining hockey and I want the team to win.  I don't think at this point that it would make a dramatic difference on the teams long term prospects, so why not win?


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