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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It seems like, two years in a row, the Jackets have come away with the second best player in the entire draft. And, for the second year in a row, it's probably the player that best fits the mold they're trying to build here.

We were all intrigued by Ivan Demidov, who could wind up being a more productive offensive player. We all heard talk about the defensemen in this year's class (yours truly was really high on Zeev Buium, who fell all the way to 12th overall) - but Lindstrom really was the obvious choice here. We said as much before the draft. And after the draft.

The Jackets leave the draft floor with a future 1-2 punch of Adam Fantilli and Cayden Lindstrom down the middle. That combination will be the envy of nearly every team in the league, and in short order. I think Lindstrom takes one more year in the WHL, then comes straight to the NHL.

While I get the concerns about his back injury, it has been described as minor by the professionals involved. That's good enough for me. And, we should probably feel fortunate that it came up, because a healthy Cayden Lindstrom scoring a goal per game, is almost surely off the board before we were due to come up to the podium.

You don't draft in the top-four to play it safe. You have to pick the player you feel is the best available. You have to pick the future foundation of your roster in this range. Big centers are one of the rarest commodities in the NHL, and the Blue Jackets came away with a real good one at this year's draft.