Interesting observation from Michael Arace of The Columbus Dispatch:
In February, four days before the trade deadline, the Blue Jackets shipped disgruntled sniper Jeff Carter to the Kings for defenseman Jack Johnson and a conditional first-round draft pick. It was one deal the Jackets managed to get right. Johnson is a horse, looks a lot like the next captain and has been starring for Team USA at the world championships.
The first-round pick was a beefy bonus in the deal. The condition is the rub.
After Los Angeles rallied to make the playoffs, Columbus was in good shape. Once L.A. was eliminated by the top-seeded Canucks, Columbus would’ve (theoretically) received a pick in the mid-to-high teens.
When that didn’t happen, the BJs still had to feel OK. All they needed was for the second-seeded Blues to do the business and they’d be all right.
But when that didn’t happen? Take it away, Arace:
Had Hitchcock eliminated the Kings, the pick the Kings likely would have sent to the Jackets would have been No. 17 overall. Los Angeles, the No. 8 seed, has shocked its way to the Western Conference finals. In Columbus, a worst-case scenario has played out.
The pick the Jackets would get for Carter is now in the range of No. 27 to No. 30 overall. Given that, the likelihood increases that general manager Scott Howson will exercise his option and wait a year to take the pick.
That said, losing out on a high pick might not be such a bad thing. Based on past drafts (Pascale Leclaire, Nikolai Zherdev, Alex Picard and Nikita Filatov), there’s a pretty good chance Columbus would’ve messed it up anyway.