Columbus Blue Jackets 2023-24 player review, Adam Fantilli was everything we hoped he would be

Being the top prospect in an already loaded prospect pool, the expectations were high for Adam Fantilli. While his rookie season had some ups and downs, the future looks very bright for the 19-year-old center.
Toronto Maple Leafs v Columbus Blue Jackets
Toronto Maple Leafs v Columbus Blue Jackets / Kirk Irwin/GettyImages

In most NHL drafts, Adam Fantilli would have been taken 1st overall. He has that much talent and skill. However, he was projected as the 2nd overall pick in the 2023 NHL draft due to Connor Bedard being in his draft class.

Luckily for the Blue Jackets, he fell in their lap at 3rd overall when the Anaheim Ducks took Leo Carlsson 2nd overall. It appears the Blue Jackets finally had a bit of good luck in landing Fantilli.

Fantilli made the Blue Jackets roster out of training camp and centered the 2nd line for a majority of the season. He started a little slow but, as the season progressed, he really started to get comfortable in the NHL.

The game seemed to slow down a bit and he was able to flourish. There were games where he was arguably the best player on the ice for either team. He really showed that he has the potential to be one of the more dominant players in the NHL in the not-too-distant future.

Unfortunately for Fantilli, his season ended on January 28th when he suffered a laceration to his calf. With the team long out of a playoff picture, the Blue Jackets wanted to ensure a proper recovery and shut him down for the remainder of the season. He ended the season with a 0.55 points/game pace.

It was a real disappointment to see his season end early, especially with all the development that he had made throughout the year. Had he stayed healthy, there’s no telling how good he may have been down the stretch.

The Blue Jackets envision Fantilli being the #1 center of the future. However, for 2023-2024, the expectations were much lower. He was expected to make the team, make an impact, and develop his game.

He did check all of those boxes. Now his biggest goal for next season is to build upon his rookie campaign. He needs to heal his leg, get bigger/stronger/faster, and take control of the game. If he is a better player next season then he was this past season, then the Blue Jackets will see a lot more success.

Fantilli still has two years remaining on his entry level contract. After the 2025-2026 campaign, he will be a restricted free agent. He is a core piece to this team and will be a Blue Jacket for a long time. Depending on his play over the next two seasons, his next contract could be a long one (7-8 years) or a bridge deal (2-3 years) that leads to a longer contract at the completion of that deal. Either way, expect Fantilli to be around for a long time.

Adam Fantilli 2023-2024 grade:. B. Final season stats: 49 games played, 12 goals, 15 assists, 27 points, 16 PIM, -21, 115 shots on goal. . Adam Fantilli 2023-2024 grade:

Fantilli started a little slow but really started to blossom as the season progressed. A bit of bad luck struck, and he was forced to miss the final third of the season with an injury. For his mostly successful rookie campaign, he gets a B from us. He would probably get a higher grade had he stayed healthy all year.