As I watch the crazy video review going on in Washington at this moment (Boston 0, Washington 1, goal stands), I’m hearing people expressing all kinds of opinions regarding the Blue Jackets end of season and draft options. I have stated before that I want the Jackets trying to win the rest of the games and to take the best player available for their draft position. This whole thing is kind of odd because if you thought the Jackets were tanking to get a better draft selection, imagine what the boys in Las Vegas would do. The Jackets would be money in the bank to lose, no matter the spread, and the house would lose on every bet. So even Vegas would be crying about a team not giving an honest effort.
But whenever I hear people talk about the draft and who the Blue Jackets could get, and when people bring up Nash, Voracek, and Brassard, I think you need to also consider Picard, Brule, and Zherdev. Nash is the only pick who you can unequivocally call a success. The jury is still out on both Voracek and Brassard, with Voracek showing that he may be a solid success while Brassard still looks like he needs more time. Picard was not a success, no matter how hard he hit the glass while trying to make a check. Brule is now an Oiler, and Zherdev is gone. Top draft picks are supposed to be like your kids, with you forever as they get better with each season. They are the hope and dreams of the future. They sell season tickets, they get media attention, and they make hearts flutter when they hit the ice.
Columbus has a horrible record of identifying and developing talent. I simply don’t trust the organization to draft the right guy, to make the right decisions on his development, and to find the right players to compliment the top picks. The team hasn’t developed a winning plan, according to Ted Leonsis, let alone make the playoffs consistently. Maybe we need to suck a couple of years in a row like Pittsburgh, Chicago, and yes, Washington. Consecutive seasons at the bottom of the standings does wonders for a team when you get to pick number ones after each season, like Fluery, Crosby, and Malkin. But if that ever happened in Columbus, the team would be gone before the fans could see any benefits of consecutive losing seasons. That almost happened in Pittsburgh, by the way. The Jackets are losing too much money to write off two or three consecutive seasons.
No, you want to tank, go ahead, but that’s a great lesson for all the fans you’re trying to gain, isn’t it? How could a young Mite ever take a local NHL player seriously? One final thought to keep in mind is that draft picks do not always work out, and when they do they take about five years to fully develop, and there’s no stopping other teams from out-developing you (Detroit and Nashville) through better scouting and lower picks.