Features

Draft Day Drama

The 48 hours Thursday and Friday of draft week are what make it so unqiue

Friday, 06.24.2011 / 10:00 AM / Features
By Blue Jackets Staff  - Writer
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Draft Day Drama

While Blue Jackets fans have already seen the bulk of excitement for this year's draft come and go with Thursday's trade of the first round pick - approximately 26 hours before the beginning of round one - the day before the draft begins is always a busy and exciting time for any team.

"The scouts work all year and these are the two days they get to see the fruits of their labor," amateur video scout Scott Harris said.

Most of the work is done prior to Friday, but General Manger Scott Howson will gather all his troops on Thursday night for one final dinner to go over any outstanding issues, possible trades and players that might be available for the team's first round pick. Once dinner concludes the GM is back on the phone talking over possible deals and trying to find a fit, as he puts it. Overall, Howson is amazed at how sluggish the action is the morning/afternoon before the draft.

"The slowness on Friday has surprised me, because you'd think teams would be trying to (make deals)," Howson said. "But, what's happening is you've done all the work in the last month and you are just waiting to see what happens."

If needed, the discussions will continue into the night, to the wee hours of the morning and that is when Harris takes over one of the most important roles approximately 12-15 hours before pick No. 1.

"I actually put together all the material," Harris said. "I type up the final list, get it double checked and then head to a Staples or Kinkos to make copies."

Assistant General Manager Chris MacFarland says once all the information is copied, it is kept under lock and key until Harris distributes it at the table. This happens roughly two hours before the first pick, when the entire group shows up together at the arena where the draft is being held.

It is at that time Howson begins working the draft floor, socializing a little and then finding the teams he has had serious discussions with over the previous days.

"It's like 'I have pick X and I will trade that to you for X, but let's wait to see who is available'," Howson said. "For example, last year the 4th pick was discussed, but I was reluctant to move it because we wanted Ryan (Johansen).

"I waited for the phone to ring, but it didn't. So, we went ahead and made the pick. Even if the phone had rung we would have turned down the deal."

Howson's example is one of hundreds of discussions that happen the days and hours leading up to and during the draft. Once at the draft table, the phone can ring non-stop at times and the entire staff said it's just about being ready.

"Being sharp and anticipating what you would do, almost before it happens," MacFarland said. "Staying focused and just keeping track of who is offering what."

Each table member has a duty and is armed with highlighters to cross players off their list or the master list.

Once the club's selection comes up, MacFarland said there is a distinct process of reading off the name of the player, his height, weight and team he last played for in the previous season. Director of Video Scouting Bryan Stewart is the person who enters the name into the system, but before he does so he reads the name back to the group. For round one, the group announces the pick at the podium and for rounds 2 through 7 the pick is announced over a microphone at the table.

Night one concludes with a regroup back at the hotel, more discussions heading into round two and even some video scouting, if necessary. There are players left on the board that maybe the club didn't expect to be there.

"You are able to take a deep breath and focus in on what's coming Saturday," Howson.

All in a day-plus NHL franchises change dramatically and sometimes unexpectedly, just as Blue Jackets fans have seen this draft season.

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