The 2017 NHL Draft was somewhat overshadowed by an expansion draft, held less than a week prior. With the league expanding to 31 teams by adding the Vegas Golden Knights, several teams parleyed picks in this draft to protect additional players. The Blue Jackets were one of those teams.
The Jackets entered the draft without a first round pick, for just the second time in franchise history. They sent their first rounder to Vegas, as well as a second round pick in 2019, along with LTIR forward David Clarkson; with the agreement that the Knights would select William Karlsson at the expansion draft. This allowed the Jackets to protect coveted power forward Josh Anderson.
Unfortunately, we all know how things ultimately worked out. Karlsson burst onto the scene and suddenly became a top six center, scoring 43 goals the very next season. Anderson was productive, but only played three more seasons in Central Ohio, before being dealt to Montreal. The one silver lining here is that, the pick was ultimately dealt to Winnipeg, who took forward Kristian Vesalainen at #24 overall.
There were some good players taken soon after, including Jake Oettinger (#26, Dallas), Morgan Frost (#27, Philadelphia), and a few others. Perhaps the most notable would be Jason Robertson, who went 39th (again to Dallas), the best player taken after this pick, but before the Jackets would wind up making their first selection of the draft.
First round grade: F. With no first rounder, and the way things turned out after the expansion draft, this is an easy grade to dish out. This wasn’t a crazy strong draft, but there was some seriously good talent on the board at the end of the first round, and early in the second. If they’d had the foresight to hold onto that pick and draft a player like Jason Robertson, for example, how much differently would things be in Columbus over the last few years?
Worse for the Jackets – their second round pick in this same draft was given to the Vancouver Canucks, as compensation for hiring away terminated head coach John Tortorella. The Canucks would go on to pick forward Jonah Gadjovich (we’ll take that trade off) with our pick at #55 – but not before Jarmo made a move to add a second round pick, selecting a future NHL player…