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Islanders, Blue Jackets narrowly avoid worst trade of all-time at NHL draft

Greg Wyshynski
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Sometimes you hear things at the NHL draft that you simply dismiss as hyperbole or invention. Sometimes they sound like this: The New York Islanders would have traded all of their picks in the 2012 NHL draft in Pittsburgh to the Columbus Blue Jackets for the No. 2 overall pick.

The version I heard had one contingency: That Nail Yakupov was available at No. 2, if the Edmonton Oilers decided to take defenseman Ryan Murray at No. 1. That the Islanders would trade all their picks for Yakupov, who eventually went No. 1 to the Oilers.

The version Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reported on Monday: That the Islanders would have traded every pick they had for the chance to draft Murray … and were denied.

From the Dispatch:

That's right, for the Jackets' No. 2 pick, the Islanders offered pick Nos. 4, 34, 65, 103, 125, 155 and 185. The bounty would have given the Jackets the following picks: 4, 31, 34, 62, 65, 95, 103, 125, 152, 155, 182 and 185. And if that weren't enough, the Jackets could have had the Kings' No. 30 if they wanted it.

The Islanders settled for drafting defenseman Griffin Reinhart at No. 4, whom some feel will end up being a better pro than Murray anyway. They went on to select six other defensemen: Ville Pokka (34th overall), Adam Pelech (65th overall), Loic Leduc (103rd overall), Doyle Somerby (125th overall), Jesse Graham (155th overall) and Jake Bischoff (185th overall).

A few thoughts on this:

1. Holy [expletive].

2. The idea that Scott Howson wouldn't accept a treasure trove of picks — giving the Jackets two in the Top 34 with which to swing a deal — and still have the opportunity to draft an outstanding defensive prospect in either Reinhart or Morgan Rielly is baffling. It's like a chef refusing a full pantry because all they know how to cook is canned soup.

3. The idea that Garth Snow would ante up seven draft choices for Murray is preposterous, both because Murray isn't a Stamkos-level can't-miss prospect — scout Kyle Woodlief projected him as a Kevin Lowe type, not Scott Niedermayer — and because the optics of making Murray "worth" an entire draft puts a back-breaking amount of pressure on him before he even touches NHL ice. In speaking to him, he's mature and confident about carrying the "NHL ready" label; but this trade turns him into the Lindros of defensemen, defined by the bounty.

4. While we were spared the "Pluto Nash" of NHL trades at the draft, we were alas robbed of the chance to see Gary Bettman attempt to deliver the news without breaking character. There's a better chance Bill Hader gets through an entire Stefan sketch during "Weekend Update" without cracking up.

5. No, seriously, holy [expletive].

6. The postscript to all of this: It almost happened before.

Well, OK, it did happen in the NFL with Ricky Williams and Mike Ditka. But it almost happened in the NHL. To the Islanders.

Can you guess which GM nearly traded oh what's the point we all know it was Mike Milbury.

Milbury told our radio partner Jeff Marek two years ago that he once tried to trade all of the Islanders' picks in the draft to the St. Louis Blues one year for their first-rounder. He didn't disclose the year. (It's on the Dec. 23 "Marek Vs. Wyshynski" edition of the podcast.)

The Blues said "no." The Blue Jackets have done the same.

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