Columbus Blue Jackets General Manager Scott Howson looked calm and relaxed Saturday in the back hallways of the Consol Energy Center during the final rounds of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft in Pittsburgh, Pa.
The patient GM with a knack for remaining calm under pressure — sometimes accused of being too calm — was speaking coolly on the phone.
This did not look like a GM who still has a multi-million dollar athlete on his payroll despite Captain Rick Nash asking to be traded earlier this year. Nash remains a Blue Jacket at a time when many thought he would be gone.
And Howson, who, according to media reports, met with Nash’s agent Thursday, remains firm the Captain will remain with the club until he gets a good enough offer. Reports indicate that may not happen until well into July.
Until then, Howson can breathe for a second after making six solid picks in this weekend’s draft and trading for a decent game-ready goaltender to bolster his club now and into the future.
“We are very pleased with what we were able to do this weekend and believe we have added quality prospects to our organization,” said Howson.
The Blue Jackets picked up much-talked-about defenseman Ryan Murray as No. 2 overall, who brings some offensive depth to the Jackets blue line and could be NHL ready for next season.
“We are very happy to have Ryan Murray join our organization,” said Howson. “He solidifies what we believe is a position of strength. His character and two-way play will be very valuable to our hockey club.”
Murray played for the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League, where he scored nine goals and had 22 assists for 31 points in the 2011-12 season. Murray had 31 penalty minutes in 46 games.
Columbus used its second-round pick to select goaltender Oscar Dansk with the 31st overall selection. The 6-foot-2, 186-pound native of Stockholm, Sweden posted a 2.82 goals-against average, .910 save percentage and two shutouts in 28 games with Brynas Jr. of the Swedish Junior League in 2011-12. He recorded a 2.70 GAA, .911 SV% and one shutout in 21 games with Brynas Jr. in 2010-11.
Dansk will add depth to Columbus’ goaltending situation, which got an assist early Friday when Howson acquired goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky from the Philadelphia Flyers. Bobrovsky was stellar at the start of his Flyers career but struggled by the end of this season with numbers not much better than the CBJ’s embattled goalie Steve Mason, who remains on the team.
“With our first two picks today and the addition of Sergei Bobrovsky, we have re-stocked the goaltending position, which was a priority for us,” said Howson.
The Flyers received three draft picks in the Bobrovsky deal, including a fourth-rounder in 2013, which was a pick acquired from Phoenix in the Antoine Vermette trade, and two picks this year at 45 and 117 that yielded the Flyers Anthony Stolarz (45) and Taylor Leier (117).
In the third round, the Blue Jackets selected Jokerit Jr. (Finland Jr.) goaltender Joonas Korpisalo with the 62nd overall pick. A native of Pori, Finland, he registered a 2.04 goals-against average, .920 save percentage and four shutouts in 38 games with Jokerit of the Finnish Junior League.
The fourth-round pick earned Columbus the London Knights (Ontario Hockey League) right wing Josh Anderson with the 95th overall pick. A 6-foot-1, 183-pound native of Burlington, Ontario, he registered 12-10-22, 34 penalty minutes and a +17 plus/minus rating in 64 games.
The Blue Jackets’ next pick, 152nd overall, was for right wing Daniel Zaar of Rogle Jr. (Sweden Jr.) in the sixth round and the final pick at 182nd overall in the seventh round was for defenseman Gianluca Curcuruto.
The much-talked-about Russian draft prospect Nail Yakupov went No. 1 overall to the Edmonton Oilers.
The CBJ had an opportunity to pick 30th after acquiring a first-round conditional pick from the L.A. Kings in the Jack Johnson/Jeff Carter trade earlier this year. The club deferred that pick until 2013.
BLUE JACKETS 2012 ENTRY DRAFT RECAP: Round (Overall): 2 (31) – G Oscar Dansk, Brynas Jr. (Sweden Jr.); 3 (62) – G Joonas Korpisalo, Jokerit Jr. (Finland Jr.); 4 (95) – LW Josh Anderson, London (OHL); 6 (152) – RW Daniel Zaar, Rogle Jr. (Sweden Jr.); 7 (182) – D Gianluca Curcuruto, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL).