Play it Safe, or Gamble? Ryan Murray vs. The Other Guys

It's become the go-to statement among fans and followers of the Blue Jackets: If the Jackets didn't have bad luck, they wouldn't have any luck at all.

So naturally when the Jackets finished the regular season as the worst team by a country mile, therefore giving them the best chance at picking first overall at the entry draft, Lady (Bad) Luck struck- allowing the Oilers to win the draft lottery, forcing Columbus to the second overall slot in the first round.

This created an interesting scenario.

If any of the other 29 NHL clubs was picking first overall, the focus would be on winger Nail Yakupov going first overall. He's a game breaker, and has the attitude and commitment that is required of a Russian prospect. He will likely be a contributor for the team that drafts him next season.

The thing about the Oilers however, is that they are chock full of great young forwards. This year's draft marks the third season in a row that the Oilers have been first on the podium. Last year, they took high-scoring Ryan Nugent-Hopkins first overall. The year before that, they took Taylor Hall with the top pick. Let's not forget the player who may be the best of them all- Jordan Eberle, taken 22nd overall in 2008. You can't forget about Alex Hemsky and his new deal, not to mention Sam Gagner, Shawn Horcoff and Ryan Jones. If Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson can get things figured it, add him to the list.

Some folks out there say never draft for need, always take the best player available. Some teams adhere to that philsophy, while most will take the best player that fits the team, period. You'd be crazy to think that positional consideration isn't part of the drafting process.

The Oilers need a defenseman. The lack of talent in the organization at that position is staggering. Edmonton is far from a free-agent haven, so the best way to add to the organization's biggest need is via the entry draft. Given that, it makes sense for them to draft a defenseman with their top pick. If they add another forward to the stable in Yakupov, the black hole on defense still exists. Trading one of the top young forwards down the line is easier said than done. Equally as difficult will be signing them all to new deals after their entry-level contracts expire.

The Oilers should draft Ryan Murray with the first overall choice.

If everything that I just mentioned takes place, and the Oilers take Murray, discussion over- the Jackets draft Yakupov.

The thing is, if the Oilers decide to draft a blueliner, they'll likely trade the pick to a team that covets Yakupov. They know that Murray or another high-end defender is available a few picks down the line. Or, they could just take Yakupov, positional weakness be damned.

Either way, that would put the Jackets on the clock, with Yakupov off the board.

The Jackets then have a decision to make, do they take Ryan Murray with the second overall pick, or do they take one of the other high-ranking forwards or defensemen? Or hell, do they take Malcolm Subban?

Given the Jackets draft woes since expansion, you have to think they are going in a little gunshy. They don't want to screw this pick up. They've screwed the pooch on too many high picks to blow this one. Murray is known as the "safe guy" in the draft. He isn't the highest scoring blueliner, nor is he the most physical. He'll be an NHLer, not necessarily a perennial all-star, but he'll be a solid addition to an NHL roster.

Ho hum.

What the team needs to do is add a dynamic young player who has a bit more risk, but more potential reward. This isn't the seventh or eighth overall pick we're talking about here, where players with more risk tend to go. This is second overall. Players like defensemen Griffin Reinhart, Morgan Rielly and Mat Dumba all have eceptional talent. Forwards Alex Galchenyuk, Filip Forsberg and Mikhail Grigorenko are all fantastic young players.

This isn't a knock on Murray at all. He'll be a fantastic NHLer. He's worn a letter for his junior team since he was 16 or something ridiculous. He played for Team Canada at the World Juniors (not a great tourny for him, truth be told) and most surprisingly he was a member of Canada again at the Men's World Championship. (Free scouting for Canada and Edmonton executive Kevin Lowe, I say). The thing is, at second overall, I don't think you should take the safe guy. These are where you get the home run picks. Galchenyuk has rocketed to the forefront again since the combine. Some say he's the best player in the draft, and that he'd be the unanimous number one ranked player had he not missed the whole season with an injury. Forsberg is reportedly a stud. Grigorenko can score with the best of them. Reinhart has an NHL pedigree and has been compared to Shea Freakin' Weber. Rielly is a wizard with the puck, a modern day Rover. Dumba can knock you into next week, and follow it up with a bomb from the point past your goaltender.

All of this is of course speculation. I'm not the only one who thinks that Edmonton should draft a defenseman, namely Murray. We'll have to wait and see what they do come draft day. If they take Murray, or trade the pick to a team that also goes after defense, or another forward, Yakupov slides to Columbus and we all go home happy. If Edmonton, or one of their trade partners takes Yakupov, then the questions start.

I'm just hoping that though they desperately need to get a great player with this pick, they don't take the safety and go for the home run.

If Yakupov is off the board, should the Jackets play it safe by drafting Ryan Murray second overall, or should they go for a player with a potentially higher ceiling, but a bit more risk?

Play it safe. Draft Murray.49
Go for the home run.161

Subscribe to The Cannon

Don’t miss out on the latest articles. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only articles.