Columbus Blue Jackets 2024 NHL Draft profile: Cayden Lindstrom was the guy all along

The Blue Jackets went into the first round of the 2024 NHL Draft with one player firmly at the top of their list. At the end of the day, they were fortunate enough to walk away with him.
2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Portraits
2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Portraits / Candice Ward/GettyImages
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All of our discussion and debate leading up to the draft proved to be just speculation. It seems like the Blue Jackets had their minds firmly made up, regardless what the two teams in front of them did on Friday.

That is, unless either of them drafted Cayden Lindstrom...

GM Don Waddell was quite open after the draft, going as far as saying that the team had Lindstrom second overall on their list. We've also heard tell that the team would have traded this pick, had he not been on the board - which speaks volumes about how they view him as a prospect. If he was there, they had to take him.

Clearly, the team felt comfortable with his back being healed up and not becoming a long-term problem. Because if you take that injury out of the equation, it's hard to see this player and not think of him as the second best all-around player in the entire draft.

Lindstrom does check a lot of the requisite boxes, as both a prospect; and what the Blue Jackets so covet. At 6'3" and already nearly 220 pounds, he's a power forward in every sense of the word.

You know those kids you see play youth sports that look so much bigger and better than everyone else? You might joke about seeing their birth certificates? That's Cayden Lindstrom...

Lindstrom is a head taller than most of the competition in the WHL. He grinds physically, throws big checks, uses his body to ward off defenders, and scores goals in bunches. But this isn't your traditional "slog it out" big guy. He can really skate, too.

Best of all, from a Blue Jackets perspective: he's a true center. He does all of this on both sides of the puck, at a high level, and with a confident, competitive swagger. Lindstrom had one of the best shots in the draft, and he's coming off of a WHL season where he scored nearly a goal per game, with 27 in just 32 games. What will he mean for this team? Check out the next slide.