Do the Blue Jackets Regret Blockbuster Deals?

It was game 6 when the Rangers faced elimination in Tampa Bay and their number 16 had a tremendous night with 3 goals and 2 assists keeping his team alive and forcing a game 7 showdown at MSG. It was the highlight so far of a career year for Derick Brassard who scored sensational 60 points in the regular season. Another player who had a career year is Flyers forward Jakub Voracek. No one had him near the top 10 of the scoring list but he actually ended his season being number 5 league wide in terms of scoring points. He had impressive 81 points setting a new personal career high. One other thing Voracek and Brassard have in common is their draft history. Both have been selected by the Columbus Blue Jackets with the organizations first pick.

Jakub Voracek
(Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Brassard was picked 6th overall back in 2006 and Voracek was 7th overall one year later. The Blue Jackets have traded away both Brassard and Voracek. Brassard was traded to the Rangers in a deal including Derek Dorsett, John Moore and a pick. In return the Blue Jackets have received scoring machine Marian Gaborik. In another deal they have received Jeff Carter from Philadelphia while Jakub Voracek, a first and a third round pick went to the city of brotherly love. If you have a look at those two trades with the knowledge of today, it makes you wonder if Columbus would still agree to those deals. Or would they keep either Voracek, Nash or Brassard, or maybe even all three players? At least they would for sure re-think the situation.

Brassard impressed Blue Jackets with professionalism

Derick Brassard spent his junior career in Drummondville in the QMJHL where he was a very productive player scoring over 100 points in his peak. The way the Blue Jackets scouting staff saw it before the draft, four top ten players could still be there at number 6 when Columbus should pick. Among that list was Phil Kessel, Derick Brassard, Nicklas Backstrom and Peter Mueller. Kessel was a tough decision to make. There was rumble about his character and former team mates talked bad about him. The Blue Jackets scouts liked Brassard’s speed, creativity and good hands and especially Don Boyd, amateur scouting director, was high on Brassard. Because the other top prospects declined to meet the Blue Jackets, Jordan Staal, Brassard and Peter Mueller have been invited to come to Columbus to talk to the organization and to meet the teams environment. Most of the scouts were pro Brassard and he convinced the Blue Jackets with his maturity and professionalism during the private interviews. And when Boston picked Kessel at number 5 the Blue Jackets were maybe even a bit relieved they didn’t had to choose between him and Brassard. Columbus picked Brassard at number 6 and was happy for the moment.

Voracek is a true role model

When Jakub Voracek came over from his home country Czech Republic to play with the Halifax Mooseheads, he barely spoke a word English and when he first met his new team mates he didn’t understand any question asked and only smiled at them. However, he picked things up very quickly and impressed his coaching staff immediately with his positive attitude. He always talks good about his team mates and there are stories that he many times played ball hockey with neighbors and was involved in communities. Voracek was draft eligible when the event was hosted in Columbus and when Edmonton picked Sam Gagner at number 6 it was clear the Blue Jackets take Voracek. They would not risk to take Cherepanov, another Russian prospect, after the contract disputes with Zherdev and because the draft took place in Columbus they wanted to present the best possible prospect to their home crowd.

Jakub Voracek
(Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)

Their fan base witnessed another disappointing and tough season with the Blue Jackets being out of the playoff race early. Therefore they couldn’t afford to make a wrong drafting decision and needed to improve their season being able to select again a top 10 player after Brassard the year before. Together with 1st overall Rick Nash, those three players should be the flag carrier for the Blue Jackets and make the first post season in Columbus possible. But all three have been traded away in the course of the next years and played good seasons this year, Voracek and Brassard had career years while Nash scored a career high 42 goals. Nash was involved in a five player deal bringing Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov and Tim Erixon to Columbus and sending their captain together with Steven Delisle and a pick to New York. Even if the Blue Jackets would say they are happy for their former players and wish them all the best for their future careers, they can’t be 100% happy to have them traded in the past. They definitely could use those players and especially in this season with lots of injuries, they could have helped. And the second bittersweet taste for Columbus is the fact that some of the acquired players/prospects are meanwhile not playing in Ohio anymore. Meanwhile neither Jeff Carter nor Marian Gaborik are part of the Blue Jackets. However, they also got couple of picks when trading Gaborik and Carter and maybe the one or the other pick involved will become a pretty good deal in some years. But in the end besides stats there are other factors you have to consider when evaluating  the deals, therefore it is too easy just to look at one factor. Meanwhile though the Blue Jackets had to witness how good their former players Voracek, Nash and Brassard played this season while Columbus failed once more to make it into the post-season.