If the Blue Jackets hang on to the No. 1 draft pick, will they use it to select Russian Nail Yakupov? (Getty Images)
Recent speculation among some NHL pundits suggest the Columbus Blue Jackets could shop their first round pick, projected to be first overall in this year's draft.
Marc-Andre Godin of La Presse recently reported via Twitter executives from three NHL teams told him they expected the Jackets to shop the pick. On Sunday, the Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons cited “a bevy of sources” claiming the Jackets would shop the pick if it ends up being first overall.
In this year's draft, two of the top prospects are Russians, Nail Yukupov and Mikhail Grigorenko (Alex Galchenyuk was born in the USA). Given the Blue Jackets poor history in selecting Russian players with high draft picks (Nikolai Zherdev in 2003, Nikita Filatov in 2008), Simmons believes they can't afford to fail a third time.
If the Blue Jackets do shop that pick, there will be considerable interest, especially if it's first overall. They'll want a good return, but if one can't be found, they’ll retain it.
Not every pundit believes the Jackets should move the pick. Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reported Sunday if Scott Howson is still their GM at season's end, he could use it to instead select Swedish left winger Filip Forsberg over Yakupov.
As for Blue Jackets right winger and team captain Rick Nash, he is keeping his reasons for requesting a trade to himself, refusing to discuss the situation with reporters prior to his club's recent 3-0 loss to the Edmonton Oilers.
It's been suggested a new Blue Jackets GM will try and persuade Nash to reconsider his trade request, but given the club's unhappy history since Nash joined the team in 2003-04, it would take a significant sell job to keep him in Columbus.
Garrioch also wondered if the San Jose Sharks would consider parting with either Joe Thornton or Patrick Marleau if they miss this year's playoffs.
They are two of the Sharks’ three leading scorers this season. Thornton has 68 points in 71 games and could finish this season with more than 75 points, while Marleau has 27 goals and 57 points in 71 games and should reach the 30-goal mark for the sixth time in his career.
Both are signed through the end of 2013-14 and carry no-movement clauses. Thornton's earning $7 million per season, Marleau $6.9 million per.
They're also both 32 and entering the downside of their long NHL careers.
If the Sharks fail to make this year's playoffs or make it but get bounced in the first round, it could spur GM Doug Wilson to consider overhauling his roster.
Given the contracts of Thornton and Marleau and the difficulty in replacing what they bring to the team, it's unlikely either guy will be shopped.
If Wilson seeks to improve his defense this summer, he might consider bringing back a former Shark currently playing with the Detroit Red Wings.
Brad Stuart, who began his NHL career with the Sharks, has spent the past four-and-a-half seasons with the Red Wings, but has let it be known he'll try to sign this summer with a club located closer to his family, who live in the San Jose area year-round.
David Pollak of Mercurynews.com acknowledged the Sharks would be the perfect landing spot for Stuart, but suggested LA Kings GM Dean Lombardi might also have interest in him.
Lombardi drafted Stuart when he was GM of the Sharks and signed the blueliner as a free agent in July 2007, though he shipped Stuart to the Red Wings at the February 2008 trade deadline.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and Kukla's Korner.
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