June 22, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; General view of the stage and draft board order as commissioner Gary Bettman announces the third overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft at CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Will This Draft Define Jarmo Kekalainen?

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The fact that the Columbus Blue Jackets have three first round draft picks in the upcoming draft has been mentioned way to many times, I know. That will be the last time I mention it in this post (probably not). Jarmo Kekalainen has had, I would say, a good start to his career as GM for the Columbus Blue Jackets. Will this upcoming draft haunt him for the rest of his life though?

This draft will easily define what the next 5-10 years will look like for the Columbus Blue Jackets. With draft picks becoming a complete bust more often than not for the Blue Jackets, if three go sour, we are looking at another rebuild in the not so distant future, and a new GM. So what should make us confident that Jarmo Kekalainen won’t mess this great opportunity up?

One aspect of Jarmo’s philosophy that I am really looking forward to is that he wants the best player available. Jarmo won’t be looking to fill in a gap that is prevalent now, for all he knows, that gap will work itself out. The draft shouldn’t be about what the team needs now, but who can most help the team in the future. It is an added bonus though if that player could slot into the line-up immediately. It is in this theory that I am beginning to trust in Jarmo.

Your needs might change by the time that player is ready to contribute for your team,” he said. “It usually takes four to five years. Suppose one draft year we are in need of a defender, and we choose a defender. But what happens in four to five years when we all of a sudden have a completely different picture with our team?

[NHL.com]

I also feel that it is not in Jarmo’s nature to not pull the trigger on a great opportunity or deal. For instance, the Gaborik deal, he had a player in his mind that he thought would fit well nicely in Columbus, so he went for it. There is no possibility of reward without risk. Taking this theory into the draft, Jarmo is one step ahead, because he knows exactly what the risk will be with a player, more importantly he has his eye on the reward. Just look at the players he helped draft in St. Louis; David Backes, T.J. Oshie, David Perron, Patrik Berglund, and Alex Pietrangelo.

Feb 25, 2012; Winnipeg, MB, Canada; St. Louis Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock calls a timeout in the second period as defenseman Roman Polak (46 left wing David Perron (57) right wing David Backes (42) right wing T.J. Oshie (74) and left wing Chris Porter (32) listen against the Winnipeg Jets at the MTS Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

 

So will the 2013 NHL Draft define Jarmo Kekalainen and his legacy with the Columbus Blue Jackets? Yes, the answer is a resounding YES. With three first round draft picks in his hands, Jarmo holds the success of the Blue Jackets for years to come with those three picks. I almost feel bad that I am not even interested in the rest of the draft, because I am sure that Jarmo will work his magic in the later rounds as well. In 5-10 years from now, Jarmo will look back at this draft and either rejoice or cringe. Keep your fingers crossed.

I think we just have to be excited about it. It’s a great opportunity for our franchise and also a great opportunity for our scouting staff to make a name for themselves and the organization. That’s the way I’m looking at it: that it’s a great opportunity for all of us.

[BlueJackets.NHL.com]

 

 

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