NHL Entry Draft Preview: No.4 Overall, Columbus Blue Jackets

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NHL Entry Draft Preview: No.4 Overall, Columbus Blue Jackets

While the debate rages on over Tyler Seguin and Talyor Hall, as to who will be the No. 1 selection in the 2010 NHL Entry draft, lets consider who might very well be the “next top 10” after these players.

The next ten teams to select after Edmonton and Boston are Florida, Columbus, New York Islanders, Tampa Bay Lightning, Carolina Hurricances, Atlanta Thrashers, Minnesota Wild, New York Rangers, Dallas Stars, Anaheim Ducks, and the Phoenix Coyotes thanks in part to a previous deal made with the Calgary Flames.

This edition of the Entry Draft is shaping up to a potentially interesting one in terms of the teams involved in these 10 spots.

Florida, Atlanta and Tampa Bay have new General Managers in place, while Columbus and Tampa Bay have recently hired their new coaches, Atlanta are is still in need of head coach and staff.

While Central Scouting and International Scouting Service have produced their rankings for North American and European skaters and goaltenders, all NHL teams have their own scouting and management staffs working hard on what scenarios could come into play here during the draft.

From all accounts, this could be a deep draft and a draft where many deals are made.

The salary cap has been in place for five years now, and does not appearing to be leaving any time soon. The process of how each NHL team charts prospects and drafts them is contingent on the amount of players under contract, the quality of their farm systems and free agents that might be or not be readily available.

Let's take a look at how things may unfold on June 25 in Los Angeles concerning the No. 3 to No. 13 draft spots.

We are taking into account current rosters, farm system and cap space into consideration here with our 2010 Entry draft selections. Clearly every NHL GM is doing the same. With the salary cap team are looking for value and players who can enter the league and play, contribute and be economical. The basis of the entry level contract and bonus system.

Selecting Fourth Overall: Columbus Blue Jackets

Under achievers, or over rated. Not sure which is the best way to describe the Blue Jackets. GM Scot Howson is trying desperately to push this team over the "hump" in the NHL's Western Conference, the problem being is that there are already a few good teams ahead of them.

Their draft record is poor and there trade record could be argued to be even poorer.

New coach Scott Arniel will certainly have a chance to change the misfortunes of the Jackets, having a healthy and focused Rick Nash and Steve Mason will help for sure, but he may have to work with less as the season starts.

Team

The Jackets have 19 players under contract for next season with around $46 Million committed towards 2010-11 season. Un-Restricted free agents of note are Nathan Paestch who was acquired from Buffalo for Raffi Torres at the trade deadline last season, minor leaguer Derek MacKenzie and the often travelled Branden Bell are some others.

The Jackets have Anton Stralman, Jared Boll, Dan Lacosta and Tomas Kana as restricted free agents. All will be offered at least a qualifying offer come July 1st.

Needs

This club is getting thinner and thinner every year. GM Howson is hell-bent in trying to build the farm system in Syracuse, but to no avail. The Jackets need depth in all positions. Steve Mason and Mathieu Garon will be free agents afte next season, restricted and un-restricted, respectfully. Dan Lacosta is the main starter in Syracuse, and he is a restricted free agent this summer.

Up front, the Jackets need a big bounce back season from Derek Brassard and continued development from Jake Voracek. Vets like Chris Clark and Kristain Huselius must continue to provide guidance as this team could be very young this season.

The defence core of Tyutin, Hedja, Methot, Commodore, Klesla and Russell are all signed and committed to for 2010-11. Russell and Klesla are beginning new deals this year with Hejda (UFA) and Methot (RFA) being free agents in 2011-12.

Players to move

Nikita Filitov might be the only asset that the Jackets have that could be moved without dealing someone on the current roster. This is not to say that everyone on the roster is secure, but that Filitov could be the biggest asset with the most return could be moved with some other players, like a potential defenseman to not only free up come cap room, but create an opening.

Thought process

It's really hard to peg the Jackets on just what they plan to do. They may become players on July 1st and sign some free agents. They might also wait and see how the draft unfolds and decide to select quality over quantity, which is to say they might make some minor deals at the draft to load up on picks in what seems to be a good draft in 2010.

With players thin in Syracuse, the Jackets could be looking to build more through the draft than ever before. 2010 prospect Brett Connolly fits in nice here, just under Rick Nash on the right side could be a player who, if drafted, could start the season in cannon-ville.

What they might do

Howson will be listening to everything coming his way. He really has no choice right now and if the Jackets can move up, like all teams, he will do it. The price could be steep for a club with no depth, so that might be unlikely.

Columbus could bet the farm that young defenseman Kris Russell is ready to turn the corner in his development and move another defenseman for some more help up front. Keeping in mind that the Jackets will have to extend Steve Mason's contract and that might just put all the ponies in place and leave little for the rest. It's hard to manage when you're up close to the cap.

What they will do

Howson will look to trade this pick to acquire more draft selections in the top 45. In the top 90 selections, the Jackets have only their 4th and 34th overall selections. Their 3rd round selection was traded to Calgary. They also have Vancouver's 55th overall selection as it stands now.

Florida at no.3 and Carolina at no. 7 could be players here to move the no.4 pick and still acquire a roster player to help the Jackets need for depth and still come back with a top 10 draft selection and a possibly another in the top 40.

My hunch is that they will try to trade this pick to Florida. The Panthers need some help on Defense and the Jackets could part with one of there defenseman and a potential forward to give them the depth they need and to get a to prospect too. Should Florida and Columbus make a deal, each team would agree who will be drafted by whom and thus guaranteeing each club the prospect they want.

If Columbus keeps the pick, I believe Brett Connolly of the Prince George Cougars would be their selection.

We will have to wait and see what the Blue Jackets do.

Update: June 9th - LW Tomas Kana resigned with Jackets for one year. No terms were disclosed.

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