Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson met with the media shortly after the first round of the NHL Draft at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh. The club selected defenseman Ryan Murray of the Everett Silvertips (WHL) with the second overall pick, and per the conditions of the Jack Johnson-Jeff Carter trade, opted to defer the first-round pick until 2013.
The following is a recap of Howson's media session:
When you saw Murray fall to No. 2, did that end the discussion of trading the pick?
"We got a very attractive offer to move off, too, and we just said no. We got another offer from the same team and we said no again. They kept coming, but we were locked in on Ryan Murray. He was No. 1 on our list and that's the guy we wanted to take."
Would you have accepted the trade offers had Murray been chosen first overall?
Did you have a deal in place before the draft, should Murray go first?
"I had a tentative deal in place if Murray was gone. It's never a deal until it's done, but the framework was there, yeah."
Did all Rick Nash talk stop during the draft?
How much did you talk to (former Silvertips coach w/Murray) Craig Hartsburg before you made the decision?
"I talked to him briefly on the phone, but we had an hour lunch yesterday and talked a lot about Ryan Murray there. Anyone that's come in contact with Ryan just raves about him. It wasn't a hard decision at all."
How exciting is it to add a player like Ryan to an already-strong group of defensemen?
"It's certainly the strongest part of our team, and I think it's crucial to win in the NHL from the back end out. We added a goalie today, so hopefully we're getting a little sturdier in the defensive zone and in defending. Now we're going to have to address how we score."
Is Bobrovsky a player you had interest in for a while?
"Yeah. I've talked to (Flyers GM Paul Holmgren) about him for the last month. After the season ended, he said he might be moving him and we had some interest, and these things go back and forth. We got really serious the last three or four days. Especially as the goaltending market started to dwindle -- Lindback got traded, Harding re-signed...so the options started to become more and more limited."
Does Murray have a chance to be an NHL player this year?
"It's hard to say. I think he's got a chance. I think if you talk to people, most of the people I talked to said Yakupov and Murray were the guys that had the greatest chance to play in the league (this year). But hey, that's going to be decided by him in training camp. It's as simple as that."
Do you see offensive upside with Murray?
"I think he has that potential, yes. It's not his whole calling card, but he can still be a really useful player if he doesn't generate a lot of points. But it can be there. I think that's a little of an unknown with how much offense is he going to give you in the NHL."
Did anything make you think about keeping this year's 30th pick (from LA)?
"We were going right down to the wire. Dean (Lombardi) was calling me at 26, 27 and I said we've got to wait. There were two players that we wanted to see if they fall at 28 and then we might take the gamble thinking they might be there at 30 or 31. As it turned out, one of them was gone, so it made the decision easy after a certain pick."
What are some of the impressive qualities about Murray that made him stand out?
"Probably pedigree. Hockey sense, intangibles, character, leadership. I think they're all good players. It's not something you easily decide, but it became pretty clear to us."
Have you ever seen a crop of defensemen this deep?
"It reminded me of the Doughty, Bogosian, Pietrangelo and Schenn draft at the top. I think six of the first eight were defensemen or something like that. That's a lot of defensemen, especially when the trend recently has been to go after forwards early because they tend to play earlier. This was a unique draft in that way."
How much activity do you expect on the 31st pick?
"I've already had two offers. We'll consider anything, yeah. I will say there's a player there that we're pretty excited about."