A lot of poker analogies have been applied to Joe Sakic recently.

Last week, the Avalanche's executive vice president of hockey operations said in these pages that the team was heavily leaning toward taking one of three forwards with the first pick in next Sunday's NHL draft, thereby passing on defenseman Seth Jones.

"He's bluffing."

"He's upping the ante."

"He's sweetening the pot."

"He's playing his best chip."

Blah, blah, blah. Many scoffed at Sakic's announcement.

"I've talked to a lot of people around the NHL and nobody believes what's coming out of Colorado," Canadian television hockey analyst Craig Button, a former general manager, said on TSN.
Believe it. Sakic doesn't bluff.

If the Avs pick first, they are taking Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin or Alexander Barkov.
Note the "if," please. The Avalanche may trade the first pick for an established player or two and move down the draft a peg or three and still acquire an outstanding prospect. In that sense, Sakic probably was playing a card with his public proclamation. If Florida, Tampa Bay or Nashville — picking No. 2 through No. 4 — is set on one of those three forwards and wants to guarantee it will get him, it may pick up the phone and call Sakic to barter.

But if the Avs keep the first pick, they're not taking Jones. Sakic's real purpose in getting the word out last week was to condition fans who had their hearts set on Jones for reality on draft day.