Ray Shero is a hockey lifer, but he is a big enough sports fan to know the history of the other professional leagues, too. And, when it comes draft day in all of them, the Devils general manager understands that the guy holding the No. 1 pick doesn't always come out looking like a genius.

"Wasn't Michael Jordan drafted No. 3?" he said over the phone this week. "That's all you need to know."

The goal, of course, is not to be the poor schlep who scribbles the name "SAM BOWIE" on a sheet of paper and hands it to the commissioner. This is how GMs stay employed and avoid professional infamy. This is the challenge that faces Shero now, and it could shape his legacy.

He knows that Friday night can become a transformational moment in Devils history, a chance to add a cornerstone player who can help put this franchise back in contention for the Stanley Cup. That happens if he makes the right choice with the No. 1 overall pick in the NHL Draft.

And if he doesn't ...

Shero can't afford to spend much time thinking about the potential nightmare scenario, because really, what good would it do? But if Shero makes the wrong choice this week, there is a very good chance that a hated rival with the No. 2 pick will have that franchise-changing moment instead.