The lottery balls have been spun, envelopes opened and the dust has settled: the Blue Jackets will be selecting with the second overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
Columbus received the No. 2 selection at last night’s Scotiabank NHL Draft Lottery held in Toronto, and aired live on both TSN (Canada) and the NBC Sports Network in the United States. Going into the evening, the Blue Jackets held the highest odds of winning the lottery and selecting No. 1 overall pick (25.0 percent) due to their finish in the standings, but as happened last year with the New Jersey Devils, a team other than the 30th-place club ended up winning the lottery.
The Edmonton Oilers won the draft lottery and were awarded the No. 1 overall pick, the third consecutive season in which they have had the first selection in the draft.
“There was initial disappointment, sure, because you want to control the top of the draft,” GM Scott Howson told BlueJackets.com. “But still, this is a very positive day for us and the franchise. When we get our final ratings done, the only difference is we may not get the guy at the top of our list, but I can assure the player we select will be a very good player.
“Add to that, we’ll have Los Angeles’ first round pick from the Jack Johnson trade if we so choose. It’s an exciting day for us, a time to move our organization forward and start to re-shape our club.”
While it was disappointing for the Blue Jackets and Howson to miss out on the top pick in the draft, there are a handful of elite prospects projected to be available at the No. 2 spot. Howson and his staff have just over two months to prepare, as the first round of the draft is scheduled for June 22 at 7 p.m. on the floor of the CONSOL Energy Center.
“We are proceeding with a heightened sense of urgency and committed to our plan to bring our fans and the city of Columbus a winning team that ultimately achieves our goal of winning a Stanley Cup,” Howson said. “This year’s draft is an important step in that process.”
Here is the final order of the teams in the 2012 draft lottery:
4. New York Islanders
5. Toronto Maple Leafs
Just last week, NHL Central Scouting released its final pre-draft rankings of all draft eligible skaters (both North American and European). At the top of the list is Sarnia Sting forward Nail Yakupov, a dynamic sniper who has drawn comparisons to Pavel Bure during a decorated junior hockey career. He tallied 69 points in 42 games for Sarnia this year, and chipped in with five points in six games during the OHL playoffs. Yakupov missed time with a knee injury and concussion during the 2011-12 season.
Right behind him is defenseman Ryan Murray of the Everett Silvertips (WHL), who jumped over Mikhail Grigorenko at the very end of the season. The sturdy, two-way defender has blossomed into a big-minute blue liner and he played a significant role for Team Canada at the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championships.
"What you're going to get in Murray is clear cut," said Central Scouting's Peter Sullivan told Mike Morreale of NHL.com. "He's a safe defenseman who is effective in all areas of the ice. He led the team in scoring in the playoffs [three goals, five points], and that's not even his forte. He's not a real offensive-defenseman, but he skates as well as any offensive defenseman, and that's how he gets the puck out of trouble.
"He's able to calm things down in his own end … he sees the game at a different pace."