From The Ice

McKenzie outlines why Blue Jackets may trade top draft pick

Jesse Puljujärvi (Photo credit: oonanur, wikipedia)
(oonanur, wikipedia)

Bob McKenzie was on Vancouver’s TSN 1040 on Thursday afternoon.

On how Darren Dreger got things moving in this market by suggesting 3, 4, and 5 in the draft are theoretically available from the Columbus Blue Jackets, Edmonton Oilers, and Vancouver Canucks, and on whether this is a case of teams like Edmonton and Vancouver just doing their due diligence, or it they’re more actively peddling the 4th and 5th pick:

“To be honest with you, I think of the three, Columbus might be the one that might be the most open to doing something right now. Although Edmonton, clearly Peter Chiarelli wants to make some changes to his hockey team. And it’s not in a vacuum, saying, ‘Hey, we want to trade 4th pick,’ it’s more along the lines of… we’ve heard a zillion trade rumors, most of them inflated or whatever, coming out of Edmonton involving everybody from Taylor Hall to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to Jordan Eberle and on and on and on it goes.

“But if the 4th pick needs to be put into play in an effort to get a front-line defenseman, well, by all means I think the Edmonton Oilers will look at that. But it would really be contingent on that deal specifically says.

“The Columbus one is interesting to me because they’ve got the 3rd pick, and it’s supposed to be a Big 3 in this draft, and why would a team that’s one of the three winners, if you will, be interested in moving down.

“The sense that a lot of people are getting right now is that the Columbus Blue Jackets are not sold on Jesse Puljujarvi at that spot, and that they may be looking at a more positionally-oriented name, and that is a center.

“Specifically, two centers come to mind. One is Logan Brown, who’s the big 6-foot-6 American from St. Louis who plays for the Windsor Spitfires, who has been kind of rocketing up the draft charts. The other is Clayton Keller, another American who broke a lot of Patrick Kane’s records at the U.S. national program that he’s been a part of for the last couple of years. Now, he’s a small center. He’s Patrick Kane dimensions as well.

“But in any case, there is this sense that if somebody wants to move into the No. 3 hole to grab Puljujarvi – if the Blue Jackets could get themselves a pick that’s a few picks later, or not dropping out of the Top 10, then they would still have a shot at one of Brown or Keller.

“As for the Canucks, I’m not sure. I think it’s more along the lines of, ‘Hey, we’ll listen to anything anybody is talking about,’ as opposed to a definitive plan saying, ‘We don’t want this pick and we want to try to parlay it into an NHL player.’”

Dreger: ‘Aggressive offers being made’ for Blue Jackets’ top pick

On it being compelling twist that a Finnish general manager with the ability to pick a Finnish player in the Top 3 of what is supposed to be a Big 3 might not be as sold on him as others:

“Yeah, and it’s kind of funny because we naturally assume, ‘Well, if Jarmo Kekalainen is a Finn, and there’s a Finn available at No. 3, well then by all means, how can you not pick him.’

“When the Canucks were picking last year, and Jim Benning steps up and picks Brock Boeser, or whatever the case may be, we don’t think of it in those terms at all. ‘You’ve got to pick a Canadian here, because Jim’s a Canadian on a Canadian team.’

“Same thing when the Winnipeg Jets were picking, all they did was pick Americans in the first round last year when they took Kyle Connor and Jack Roslovic and what have you.

“So I’m not sure that the nationality of the general manager (matters), and yet it’s a unique situation because there is only one Finnish GM in the National Hockey League, and these are high-end Finn available.

“That’s not to say they won’t take Puljujarvi, but the grapevine certainly suggests they may want to go in a different direction, and they realize that going in a different direction might give them an added asset. That whatever they get for flipping out of the 3rd spot to flip to 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 – whatever the case may be – would be worth it if they feel like one of those other guys like Logan Brown or Clayton Keller or another center would drop into their lap as well.”

Source: TSN 1040/Transcript: Nichols

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