Before the turn of the calendar, the Columbus Blue Jackets announced the return of President John Davidson to the fold, after a two year stint in the Big Apple with the New York Rangers. JD and Jarmo Kekalainen are both now on new multi-year deals with the organization to bring this team back to the glory. Just like the first contracr for Kekalainen, he is back on the draft floor with a new contract and three first round draft picks, after swindling the Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning to grab winger Nick Foligno and defenseman David Savard.
In 2013, Kekalainen took the draft floor with picks 14, 19, and 27 in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, grabbing center Alexander Wennberg (FLA), LW Kerby Rychel (AHL), and RW Marko Dano (WPG). In 2021, the Jackets hold number five with the results of the draft lottery from June 2, 2021. A top 5 pick gives Columbus many options to select from, assuming a steal or unexpected transaction, they have wingers, centers, defenders, and maybe a goalie to grab at number five.
Columbus' biggest need is a number one center, and the closest option in the top 10 is Matthew Beniers from the Michigan Wolverines (NCAA). Beniers is on a super team this year with teammate Owen Power being the projected first overall draft pick come draft day on July 23, 2021. Beniers is a two way guy that pinches in at both ends of the ice, and could help his development more staying there longer given the anticipated arrival of Luke Hughes.
Other centers that could be grabbed later in the draft are Kent Johnson (Michigan), Mason McTavish (OHL), Cole Sillinger (WHL), and Aatu Raty (LIGA). Centers are there even though the draft is being pronounced as a defensive draft given the quality of unknown talent in the draft. Other prospective drafts have Columbus looking at LD Simon Evidnsson (SHL) and LW Dylan Gunther (WHL) as the number five selection.
Coming back from the past to the present, RD Seth Jones has announced he will not renew his contract with Columbus after the end of the 2021-2022 season with the organization, as he is looking to test the free agent market, according to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet. Jones was the fourth overall draft pick in the 2013 NHL draft, the same draft where Columbus selected thrice, and where Nathan MacKinnon went first, Alex Barkov went second, and Jonathan Drouin went third overall. Jones came from Nashville in the trade for Ryan Johansen, and played in Portland with Oliver Bjorkstrand and Paul Bittner on Columbus.
Sources are suggesting the Colorado Avalanche, Philadelphia Flyers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Calgary Flames, and Los Angeles Kings as the top five suitors for Jones on his final season. Jones is from Denver and knew Sakic as a kid from Father Popeye Jones, who is currently an assistant coach on the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team, who is first place in the Eastern Conference in the playoffs this postseason. Toronto has been mentioned after the collapse, with links to Mitch Marner as the price after the contract offer pitch in 2019 for his rights in a near offer sheet. Los Angeles has the center interests in Quinton Byfield and Alex Turrcotte along with defensive depth in Sean Durzi and Tobias Bjornfort. Calgary is looking for a massive shakeup, and could be willing to move one of Johnny Gaudreau or Sean Monahan.
This comes back to 2019 after the pending UFAs of Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky stayed with the team the whole year instead of dealing them, and bought Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel, Adam McQuaid, and Keith Kinkaid at the trade deadline that year. After the season that was, Columbus now has the following selections this and next two drafts :
2021 Draft Outlook
1 - Columbus (#5)
1 - Toronto
1 - Tampa Bay
3 - Columbus
4 - Columbus
5 - Columbuis
5 - New Jersey
6 - Columbus
7 - Columbus
2022 Draft Outlook
1 - Columbus
2 - Columbus
3 - Tampa Bay
4 - Toronto
6 - Columbus
6 - Toronto
7 - Anahiem
2023 Draft Outlook
1 - Columbus
2 - Columbus
3 - Columbus
4 - Columbus
5 - Columbus
6 - Columbus
7 - Columbus
After lack of draft capitol the past few drafts, they are playing catchup to build a new pool of kids to develop and look to keep in the Buckeye state. Going with contention of staying, here are their expiring contracts
RW Patrik Laine
LW Alexandre Texier
RW Kevin Stenlund
RW Kole Sherwood
G Cam Johnson
RW Cliff Pu
C Calvin Thurkauf
LD Michael Del Zotto
LD Mikko Lethonen
LD Gavin Bayreuther
C Brandon Dubinsky
C Mikhail Grigorenko
RD Adam Clendenning
C Zac Dalpe
C Ryan MacInnis (G6)
LW Stefan Matteau
RD Adam Peeke
A lot of depth pieces that can go between the farm and the big league, but do not contribute enough to be consistent on a team except in pinches is on this team, when they need stars and need to hold onto them. That is the biggest task with Patrik Laine, else look to 2022 for a fire sale ahead.
What are your thoughts on the past and present of the Blue Jackets? What else needs done besides the build of the team? More to come...
The Jackets have come a long way to respectability in the league. I frequently reference the Rick Nash years as a time that was akin to a circus. They have some smart hockey people and will undoubtedly learn from past mistakes. They should(and probably will) flip Jones. They have enough draft picks to parlay those into assets as well, part of the Jones trade, or separate. I think all in all, they are looking at a retool and should be sniffing the playoffs sooner rather then later.
team sucks again now that Rick Nash is back in fold .....
@hocketaddict89 @Alexanki Nash was a blow and was almost brought back prior to his retirment, better for him and family to be healthy
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