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How different would Columbus be had the Habs taken Brule instead of Price in 2005?

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12-27-2012, 03:06 PM
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Sticks and Pucks
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How different would Columbus be had the Habs taken Brule instead of Price in 2005?

Back in 2005, the consensus top five picks were Crosby, Johnson, Ryan, Pouliot and Brule (not necessarily in that order). Anyway, the first four picks went as expected but the Habs opted to go off the board and take Carey Price instead of Brule at 5. That left Columbus with Brule at 6th overall. What if the Habs had taken Brule at 5 like how everyone else expected them to? Who would Columbus have taken at 6? They already had Leclaire in the system so it was unlikely that they would take Price at that spot. They already had two future cornerstone wingers (or so they thought) in Nash and Zherdev. I think they would have been looking at center or defence. The only players that would have been on their radar were probably Staal, Bourdon and Kopitar. Staal and Bourdon were considered safe defence prospects whereas Brian Lee sort of went off the board at 9 so he probably would not have been on Columbus' radar. Kopitar is the interesting one here. He was rated by many as the second best talent in the draft (behind Crosby) but was expected to go in the 6-10 range because he was from a non-traditional hockey country and therefore more of a risk. Could it have been possible that Columbus would have taken Kopitar had Brule not been available? MacLean had a history of taking risks at the draft (trading up for Nash when Bouwmeester was the consensus first overall pick, drafting Zherdev when there were many other safer choices that year). How different would Columbus have panned out had they drafted Kopitar? Maybe Nash would still be a Blue Jacket? Maybe more playoff appearances?

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12-27-2012, 03:48 PM
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Mike Farkas
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This isn't really the type of history that's dealt with here. This is more for the "Prospects" board or even the main board (National Hockey League) or...even the Columbus board.

That said, I believe MacLean said that there was no difference between the top-5 in that draft (excluding Crosby, he was a no-brainer 1st overall pick). I'm not totally sure who was in that top-5 for him specifically, but I have to believe a team that could not, in any way, shape or form come out of that draft without a top-notch centerman, would have left Anze Kopitar on the table.

There was some mixed emotions about him because he was from a non-traditional hockey country and it was probably the main reason he fell to where he did. But I'm sure Columbus would have picked him had Brule gone to Montreal.

The other darkhorse that might have been involved for that pick was Marc Staal. Who was said to making a late push for the top-5 right before the draft. Many scouts that felt bloodlines were important would certainly choose Marc Staal over Anze Kopitar, a veritable wildcard.

Without even using the power retrospect, I'm fairly confident that Anze Kopitar would have been their choice. And I think they might have even traded down a spot or two possibly, if they felt they could. Especially given the supposed value of the picks 2 through 6 that year.

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12-27-2012, 04:06 PM
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Had Carey Price gone to Columbus then the team probably would be a consistent playoff team by this point.

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12-27-2012, 04:56 PM
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Originally Posted by tony d View Post
Had Carey Price gone to Columbus then the team probably would be a consistent playoff team by this point.
That wasn't really an option. For two drafts in a row, AIUI, they didn't even really consider a goalie unless someone tumbled way down. They wouldn't have drafted Price, I firmly don't believe...

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12-27-2012, 05:06 PM
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Pascal Leclaire was Columbus' goalie of the future at the time. Maclean was always extremely high on him. I really doubt Columbus would have taken Price.

IIRC correctly, it was between Brule and Staal. I'm not totally sure I belive that Kopitar was seriously considered.

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12-27-2012, 05:19 PM
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IIRC correctly, it was between Brule and Staal.
Really? I seem to recall Brule was never really a consideration leading up to the draft because the Blue Jackets weren't expecting him to fall out of the top 5.

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12-27-2012, 08:04 PM
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Really? I seem to recall Brule was never really a consideration leading up to the draft because the Blue Jackets weren't expecting him to fall out of the top 5.
That's not how I remember it. Unfortunately, any pieces that I wrote on that draft are archived on a hard drive that I can't get the data off of...so I can't check myself. I thought Brule, Kopitar and M.Staal were the three most likely picks for Columbus.

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12-27-2012, 10:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Mike Farkas View Post
This isn't really the type of history that's dealt with here. This is more for the "Prospects" board or even the main board (National Hockey League) or...even the Columbus board.

That said, I believe MacLean said that there was no difference between the top-5 in that draft (excluding Crosby, he was a no-brainer 1st overall pick). I'm not totally sure who was in that top-5 for him specifically, but I have to believe a team that could not, in any way, shape or form come out of that draft without a top-notch centerman, would have left Anze Kopitar on the table.

There was some mixed emotions about him because he was from a non-traditional hockey country and it was probably the main reason he fell to where he did. But I'm sure Columbus would have picked him had Brule gone to Montreal.

The other darkhorse that might have been involved for that pick was Marc Staal. Who was said to making a late push for the top-5 right before the draft. Many scouts that felt bloodlines were important would certainly choose Marc Staal over Anze Kopitar, a veritable wildcard.

Without even using the power retrospect, I'm fairly confident that Anze Kopitar would have been their choice. And I think they might have even traded down a spot or two possibly, if they felt they could. Especially given the supposed value of the picks 2 through 6 that year.
The people in the know have said for years that, when Brule fell to #6, the scouts at the table still wanted Kopitar over him.

Part of the issue with Columbus in its first seven drafts was the fact that Doug MacLean insisted on having the first pick, with the scouts then fighting over the rest of the draft. This would explain why there was almost no actual NHL talent that came from those seven drafts, and no grand plan either.

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12-27-2012, 10:44 PM
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I remember watch Doug MacLean talking about this on Sportsnet a few months ago. Apparently they had Brule and Kopitar as equal prospects, and their european scout and North American scout were fighting over who they should take. Doug said they went with Brule because if it was that close you take the North American. He also was taking shots at Pierre McGuire for freaking out on the Canadians for taking Price over Brule.

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12-27-2012, 10:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Mayor Bee View Post
The people in the know have said for years that, when Brule fell to #6, the scouts at the table still wanted Kopitar over him.

Part of the issue with Columbus in its first seven drafts was the fact that Doug MacLean insisted on having the first pick, with the scouts then fighting over the rest of the draft. This would explain why there was almost no actual NHL talent that came from those seven drafts, and no grand plan either.
Brule was the guy to take there, Kopitar is 20-20 hindsight.

Brule was smaller but he was thick and played gritty and had a great skill set. For a vareity of reasons, Columbus not being the best fit, too much pressure too soon not enough support, he didn't pan out.

Kopitar was seen as a bit of a project and the lower level of competition was a question mark.

Brule had a 70-39-48-87 line with grit and leadership in the WHL and was seen as the more sure thing at the time and the pick looked good with his flourish at the end of the 06 season leading the Giants to the memorial cup.

Sometimes things don't work out.

Not sure if you mean McLean or the scouts but the whole organization hasn't been run very well in Columbus a but their drafting has been much better since 09.

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12-27-2012, 11:16 PM
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So if Brule had gone in the top 5, do you guys think MacLean would have gone with Kopitar or Staal? I'm thinking Kopitar because MacLean probably wasn't afraid to take a risk if it meant a potentially high reward player like Kopitar. The argument for Staal could also be made as he was a North American safe d-man pick and Columbus wasn't exactly strong on D.

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12-27-2012, 11:34 PM
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I think Kjell Larsson would have campaigned hard for Kopitar. Remember, they drafted - again, no power of retrospect - a superstar in Rick Nash and an elite winger in Nikolai Zherdev and spent the 8th overall pick last year on a power forward wannabe in Alexandre Picard... they desperately needed a franchise center.

Not that the defense was rock solid. But between Klesla and Beauchemin, you probably have the makings of a shutdown pair. Plus, Plekhanov will come over. So he and Johnson can provide offense. Tollefsen on the third pair and you get a couple veterans to patch up what needs patching. The center position needs help!

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12-28-2012, 02:07 AM
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they desperately needed a franchise center.
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Brule was the guy to take there, Kopitar is 20-20 hindsight.
Absolutely. If Brule was gone, I'm sure Kopitar made for a sexier pick than a dman, and he filled a position of need. But Brule was a no-brainer type pick at that point. He, too, played center and was coming off an amazing season. He was a "Can't Miss" pick.

Now that he didn't pan out is another thing altogether, but I doubt you would have found any Columbus fans upset that they landed Brule and not Kopitar or anyone else available at that point.

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12-28-2012, 02:43 AM
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Absolutely. If Brule was gone, I'm sure Kopitar made for a sexier pick than a dman, and he filled a position of need. But Brule was a no-brainer type pick at that point. He, too, played center and was coming off an amazing season. He was a "Can't Miss" pick.

Now that he didn't pan out is another thing altogether, but I doubt you would have found any Columbus fans upset that they landed Brule and not Kopitar or anyone else available at that point.
Yes and if the Blue Jackets were going to pick Kopitar had Brule not been available then I guess that we can say the Habs ruined the Blue Jackets by not taking the guy everyone expected them to take in Gilbert Brule, haha. Really, Columbus' biggest problem ever since they came into the league as an expansion team has been their inability to find a first line center.

Btw, thanks everyone for the responses. It's always fun to mull over what-ifs years after a particular draft took place.

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01-07-2013, 10:06 PM
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I remember watch Doug MacLean talking about this on Sportsnet a few months ago. Apparently they had Brule and Kopitar as equal prospects, and their european scout and North American scout were fighting over who they should take. Doug said they went with Brule because if it was that close you take the North American. He also was taking shots at Pierre McGuire for freaking out on the Canadians for taking Price over Brule.
Did he actually say that? So he admitted his xenophobia?

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01-07-2013, 10:14 PM
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Sorry double post.

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01-07-2013, 10:45 PM
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Mike Farkas
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Did he actually say that? So he admitted his xenophobia?
Whether he said it directly or not, the Blue Jackets are once bit, twice shy...that's not unfair. I wouldn't infer xenophobia from it. There's different things involved when drafting European players...military service, already existing pro contracts, language barriers, cultural differences, families, etc. It's not a "Doug MacLean doesn't care about black people" moment...it's just that the Jackets needed a pick that was a little more safe than sorry, a lot of drama has been associated with the organization it seems and they really need(ed) to calm things down and move forward...

Today, it's called the "Russian Factor" - it's not xenophobia, it's business. Clear difference.

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