Avs, Wings paying the piper

Years of trading first-round picks for playoff help may cost the Avs and Wings a shot at the draft's premier talent.

Updated: June 20, 2003, 2:21 PM ET
By By Jim Wilkie | NHL Insider
Here's a look at what teams in the Western Conference are looking for and looking to do at this weekend's NHL entry draft in Nashville, Tenn. (the Eastern Conference was covered Thursday):

Columbus Blue Jackets: For the long-term future, Columbus president and GM Doug MacLean would be wise to take the best player available with the fourth overall pick. But MacLean also took on the responsibilities of head coach after firing Dave King and finishing out last season. So the jack of all trades is under even more pressure to win now, especially after expansion brothers Minnesota made the playoffs in its third season and advanced to the Western Conference finals. Like last year, MacLean believes the Blue Jackets should contend for a playoff spot. So to avoid another disastrous season, which could threaten one or all of his jobs, MacLean is willing to trade Columbus' top pick to get some immediate help, according to the Ottawa Sun.

San Jose Sharks: Doug Wilson has a great opportunity to make his mark as the new GM of the Sharks. He inherits the sixth and 21st overall selections and 15 picks in the draft because of San Jose's sell-off of players late last season. Considering the previous belt-tightening before Dean Lombardi was fired, any deals Wilson pulls off probably won't bring a big-name player who would significantly increase payroll unless he can also trade away some high salaries. The new GM also has to keep an eye on the future and isn't likely to deal both first-round picks with such a good draft class available.