It wasn't the top prize, but it wasn't bad. The Blue Jackets garnered the #3 overall selection in the June Entry Draft, meaning that a truly elite talent will be joining the roster in the near future.
The lottery, conducted in Toronto as a lead-in to Game 2 of the Washington-Pittsburgh series, carried more than the usual amount of drama. The new format provided three separate lottery drawings for the top three slots, and representatives for all 14 participating clubs were present, with John Davidson representing Columbus. Tension grew as Bill Daly dutifully flipped the logo cards, beginning with the #14 position. The first several selections went according to form, and when the #7 pick passed without seeing the CBJ logo, some sense of relief passed among the fan base, as that was as far as Columbus could drop. Hope sprung a bit higher when Calgary fell from 5th to 6th, signifying that Winnipeg had earned a top three slot. When Vancouver was announced with the #5 pick, it was known that Columbus could do no worse than hold the #4 position, and when the dreaded Edmonton Oilers logo appeared at #4, the entire hockey world breathed a sigh of relief. It was slightly more jubilant in Columbus, as that meant a top three slot was theirs.
After a dramatically inserted commercial break, the suspense was quickly ended with the Columbus logo flipped at number 3. Winnipeg ended up with the second overall pick, and Toronto held the mathematical edge and will pick first. As noted in the earlier piece, it won't stop the conspiracy theorists, but certainly everything was done to dispel any sense of funny business.
So, what does it mean? In all likelihood it means that one of two Finnish forwards will be headed to Columbus: Patrik Laine or Jesse Puljujärvi. Both are elite talents, with the size and skill necessary to make an immediate impact. Either would find Jarmo Kekäläinen more then ready to welcome another talented Finn to the Columbus fold.
Sure, it's only one spot in the draft, but it's a big spot, and brings the possibility for some real firepower joining the ranks. That helps the front office gauge the other moves it needs to make, with next year's likely Expansion Draft looming in the background. It provides options and flexibility, which is important. Perhaps equally important is the fact that it creates some positive energy heading into the off-season. No, it wasn't the top pick., but Columbus beat the mathematics by a bit, and will likely reap the rewards. That's good enough for me. Stay tuned.