The NHL draft lottery may have seen the Tampa Bay Lightning win the big prize, and most assume it to be Steven Stamkos, but the Blue Jackets made out better than anticipated.
Of course, after the first few weeks of the season, no one expected the Blue Jackets to be hunting for a lottery pick. Some didn't think they would be looking at a top-ten pick. But with the team stumbling to a 1-8-1 clip to close the season and most players looking disinterested, the organization earned yet another asset to use on draft day.
The consensus is that GM Scott Howson will trade one, if not both, of his first-round picks in the upcoming draft to acquire a scoring center. Patrick Marleau, he who has fallen out of favor with coaching and management in Silicon Valley, is rumored to be on the Blue Jackets' wanted list.
Due to the Avalanche clinching a playoff berth last week, the Blue Jackets are guaranteed Colorado's first-round pick in June. The pick was a contingent part of the Adam Foote trade at the deadline, and should he re-sign with the Avalanche this summer, the Blue Jackets also receive a fourth-round pick in 2009. For an aging, 37-year old stay-at-home defenseman, I'd say it was a pretty good deal.
The real question is: are two first-round picks enough to acquire a top-flight player? Would the Sharks be willing to part with Marleau for a first-round pick and a young roster player? Would the Panthers deal Olli Jokinen for a similar package? Whatever the scenario, the Blue Jackets are certain to be in the mix.
Howson admitted to a potential roster overhaul this summer, and now that he has freed up nearly $20 million in payroll, he's set up well to do some damage on the open market. For the Blue Jackets to mold the roster into a playoff contender, a minimum of six NHL players are required this summer.
Some potential targets the Blue Jackets may look to include:
Patrick Marleau (trade)
Olli Jokinen (trade)
Marian Hossa would be included in the list, but there will be 29 other teams seeking his services as well.