The Blue Jackets will be looking forward to a long offseason, but for the upper management, it will be only the start of their work. Columbus has five draft picks in this year's draft- their first, second, third, sixth, and seventh. Their fourth round pick is in Chicago courtesy of the Brandon Saad blockbuster; their fifth is in St. Louis from the Jordan Leopold trade.
The biggest question for the Blue Jackets is who they would like to draft with a pick to could go anywhere between first overall and tenth overall.
It seems apparent that the top three draft picks will be center Auston Matthews, and wingers Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi. Underneath, there is winger Matthew Tkachuk, center Pierre-Luc Dubois, and defensemen Jakob Chychrun and Oli Juolevi.
Columbus core of center prospects is not the greatest as most of their young centers are in the NHL- Alex Wennberg, Boone Jenner, and William Karlsson. Drafting someone like Dubois or Matthews would make sense, but if they fall down a couple spots due to the new draft lottery format, Michael McLeod and Clayton Keller should still be around.
Columbus' core of wingers is probably one of the strengths in their system. They have Sonny Milano, Oliver Bjorkstrand, TJ Tynan, Paul Bittner, and Kerby Rychel in the minor leagues. In the NHL, their highest paid forward is a young winger in Brandon Saad. The reason why drafting an elite winger like Jesse Puljujarvi or Patrik Laine makes sense for Columbus is their Finnish background as general Jarmo Kekalainen is from Finland as well.
Columbus' defensive depth is something the Jackets are still working on. The Jackets lost Mike Reilly to the Minnesota Wild in the summer, and lost Austin Madasiky to Europe as he was looking to earn more money. A couple guys that stand out are Zach Werenski, Blake Siebenaler, Michael Paliotta, and Dillion Heatherington. The reason why to draft a defenseman like Chychrun or Juolevi makes sense is because of the loss of good young defensemen in the in past, and it seems to now be the focus of this young club.
What are your thoughts on the upcoming draft? How will the order of the draft go? Who will go after Matthews? Comment about the draft below.
More to come…