The NHL Draft Lottery held on Monday night came with a result many of us expected. With the second best odds of landing a potential superstar talent in Connor Bedard, the Jackets were leapfrogged by the Chicago Blackhawks – losing out not only on a generational player, but also the top consolation prize (Adam Fantilli). The Jackets will pick third in June’s draft.
If you’ve been a fan of this organization for more than the last half dozen years, you know this sting as well as I do. This was the tenth time in their history that they’ve had a chance to draw the first overall pick – and they are now 0-10 in those drawings.
I’m not surprised in the least. In fact, I mentioned to anyone that would listen yesterday, that I fully expected this team to “win” the third overall pick. So in that regard, I was actually spot on. The sting of not getting Bedard or Fantilli will be lessened by the fact that we only fell one spot, and will still get our pick of the next best center available.
The real hurt here comes from the way this situation was handled on air. In a rare instance where this franchise had an opportunity to shine on the big stage, the city turned out. The draft lottery party at Columbus Brewing Co. was packed with excited CBJ fans, who were hopeful of some lottery luck.
Instead, on top of the lottery loss, we saw our beloved team once again let down by the NHL, and ESPN, in a presentation that I will only call a complete embarrassment. First, Kevin Weekes spoiled the outcome of the lottery by revealing that the first overall pick was down to just Anaheim or Chicago – before our card was even turned over. The broadcast then cut to commercial break, leaving social media scrambling to figure out whether or not the comment was a mistake.
In spite of that happening, John Buccigross gave them a chance to recover – posing a question about how the Jacket fans might feel, only to have Chris Chelios shut him down and turn the conversation around to gush about his beloved Blackhawks.
"“I don’t care about the Blue Jackets” – Chris Chelios"
We don’t care about you either, Chris.
The only thing left for the Jackets to do is take this pick and move on. While landing third isn’t ideal, the fact of the matter is, they didn’t need a top-two pick in this draft to have a brighter future. Whether they decide to take Leo Carlsson or Will Smith, they’re going to come away with a potential top line center, which is something they have never really had before.
Even Pierre-Luc Dubois was drafted as a “potential” center, but he had played wing for most of his junior career. So, looking at the silver lining, our prospect pool lacks two things: a future top line center, and quality/depth in goaltending. They will solve the first issue in June, and there are plenty of solid goalies available in this draft as well.
It isn’t all bad. I still believe this team has a ridiculously bright future, and 2-3 years from now we’ll be battling it out with the best teams in this league. Maybe then the national media folks will pay attention and give some love to the fifth line.