After what was considered a quiet NHL trade deadline, there has been some movement of draft picks -- depending on circumstances, the Columbus Blue Jackets, Buffalo Sabres, Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals will own multiple first-round picks -- and a lot more talk of hesitation about Russians being selected near the top of the draft. Both of those themes apply directly to the team most likely to select No. 1 overall this June.
One thing we can safely say is this, the Columbus Blue Jackets certainly will be the biggest fans of a playoff push by the Los Angeles Kings. If that happens, the conditional draft pick the Jackets picked up from the Kings for Jeff Carter can turn into another first-rounder in 2012 and give Columbus multiple first-round picks. That will be valuable ammunition as the team figures to begin a rebuilding process that will most likely involve trading Rick Nash after the season. But what to do with those picks?
If there is a team that should be hesitant about selecting a Russian to be the new face of the franchise, it should be the Columbus Blue Jackets. This is not necessarily a reflection on all Russian players, just the ones the Jackets have been affiliated with in recent years. Nikolay Zherdev and Nikita Filatov fizzled before ever making an impact in Columbus, and those experiences could make the Jackets a little gun-shy about taking one of their countrymen with the first overall pick.
The problem is Nail Yakupov is staring them down as the clear No. 1 selection in the draft. So, what do they do? While Yakupov is the top talent in this draft, the Blue Jackets certainly have options. Do they trade down? Do they take someone else? Or do they overcome any Russian phobias and take Yakupov?
Edmonton is also in a pickle, with Russian center Mikhail Grigorenko the probable No. 2 pick, as they are in need of defensemen badly. Is it conceivable that the top-two ranked players for the draft slide out of their slots because of circumstance? Anything is possible. Adding to the intrigue of the draft, with so many teams owning multiple first-round picks, there's the definite possibility for a higher level of player movement than normal, depending how scouting staffs view this year's crop of eligible players.
To explore this and the other trade-deadline impacts on the draft, I re-examined my recent mock draft to see what's changed. Based on the standings from earlier this week, here's a quick look at how I believe the first round will shake out now, starting with the teams at the top -- Columbus and the Edmonton Oilers.
To see how the NHL trade deadline impacted Grant Sonier's projection of the 2012 draft's first round, you must be an ESPN Insider.