Where NHL's worst will turn for draft help
With some teams now all but eliminated from the playoff chase, the NHL's looming trade deadline is rightfully hogging much of the current off-ice debate. But for the teams at the very bottom of the league standings, it's not too early to look ahead to June's draft. Later this week we'll take a closer look at every NHL club with our first mock draft, but for now we've made some calls to try to figure out, based on each clubs' most pressing needs, how the league's cellar dwellers might be able to help themselves.
One caveat: despite sitting 27th overall, we've left the Anaheim Ducks out of the conversation for now. Bruce Boudreau's squad is on a mighty 12-2-3 run since Jan. 6 and, even if they come back to Earth a bit before season's end, they seem unlikely to finish in the bottom five. The same can't be said for the four teams listed below.
Columbus Blue Jackets
The last place Blue Jackets haven't had the best luck in picking Russian prospects. You just have to look at Nikita Filatov, the sixth overall selection in 2008, to see that. Filatov was traded to Ottawa last summer and is now back playing in KHL. But even that sour history likely won't stop Columbus from making Nail Yakupov No. 1 this year if given the chance. Unlike Filatov, Yakupov has already proven himself in North America, having spent the last two seasons dominating the Ontario Hockey League with the Sarnia Sting. True, the Jackets need defensemen more than anything else. But that need now seems more likely to be addressed via trade, with Yakupov's potential arrival making Jeff Carter -- and yes, even Rick Nash -- expendable.
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