Now that the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs are over, the Blue Jackets finally know the specific position of each of their draft picks in the upcoming 2023 NHL Entry Draft. With Florida advancing to the Eastern Conference Final, the 1st round pick from the LA Kings moved up from 23rd to 22nd overall.
The CBJ currently owns nine total draft picks in the 2023 NHL draft. Here is the list of picks the organization owns per round and the overall position of each pick:
Round 1: #3, #22
Round 2: #34
Round 3: #66, #80
Round 4: #98, #114
Round 5: #156
Round 6: None
Round 7: #194
In a very deep draft, the Blue Jackets are in a good position. They own 3 picks in the top 35 and 6 picks in the top 100. They are sure to pick up some very good players in this upcoming draft.
With the 3rd overall pick, the Blue Jackets will be taking a center. This came directly from John Davidson, President of Hockey Operations, in a recent interview. With Connor Bedard going first overall to Chicago, the specific player that the CBJ take depends on the Anaheim Ducks. Most experts believe that Anaheim will select center Adam Fantilli with the 2nd overall pick. If this scenario plays out, then the Blue Jackets will be taking either Leo Carlsson or Will Smith. Both are high powered centers that project to be top line players in the NHL.
However, it isn’t a slam-dunk that Anaheim selects Fantilli. The Ducks are in the middle of a rebuild that already has two young centers (Trevor Zegras and Mason McTavish). Anaheim may not be sold on taking another center and may opt to take high-scoring winger Matvei Michkov. If this scenario plays out, then the Blue Jackets are almost certain to select Adam Fantilli, who projects to be top line player and potential superstar in the NHL.
The center position has been a weakness of the organization since its beginning. Expect multiple players selected that can play center ice. It would also not be surprising if the Blue Jackets selected a goalie (or two) in one of the first four rounds. The prospect pool is thin with goaltenders. A possible goalie of the future will be needed based on the play of Elvis Merzlikins and the inconsistent health of Daniil Tarasov.
This is where the organization stands as of today. But do not rule out a trade (or two or three) during the draft by Jarmo Kekalainen. Through his tenure, Jarmo has shown a tendency to make trades during the draft. This draft is very important to the organization and to Jarmo’s job security. He will do everything he can to ensure that the organization walks away from the draft with good, young players for the future and players to improve the team for the upcoming season.