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Murray heads Columbus’ improving prospects list


Many believe that the best way to rebuild a team is to be bad enough to accumulate a war chest of high first-round draft picks. If someone wants to counter that it takes a little more than that, one merely needs to look at the Columbus Blue Jackets’ history.

Aside from Rick Nash, the majority of the team’s first-rounders either no longer play for the Blue Jackets (examples: Jakub Voracek and Derick Brassard) or aren’t even in the NHL any longer (such as: Pascal Leclaire and Nikolay Zherdev).

Still, that farm system might just be improving, thanks to one still-debatable question the old regime made and the stockpile that new GM Jarmo Kekalainen is beginning to build.

Quality first

For NHL draft nerds, Ryan Murray will always beg the question: is he good enough to justify rejecting the New York Islanders’ Ricky Williams-like offer during the 2012 NHL Draft?

It’s way too early to know, especially considering his bad injury luck, but outlets such as still rank him as the organization’s top prospect. Maybe he’ll be worth it in the long run.

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The old regime distinguished itself with that quality-over-quantity move, yet Kekalainen’s first draft might be marked by quantity ... at least until the prospects can be properly assessed.

Columbus managed three first-round draft picks to deepen its prospect pool: Alexander Wennberg (14th), Kerby Rychel (19th, via New York Rangers) and Mark Dano (27th, via Los Angeles Kings). All three are forwards, which seems like a wise area to improve since the team has put all of assets into improving the defensive corps in the past.

Things are looking up, but if you ask the experts, there’s still room for improvement. Hockey Prospectus ranks the Blue Jackets’ farm system 14th overall while Hockey’s Future placed them at 21st before the 2013 draft.

As they would say with the prospects themselves, patience is a big part of this development.

More Blue Jackets Day at PHT

Horton’s expectations

Defense could be a strength

Big season for Gaborik

Follow James O’Brien @cyclelikesedins