Identifying the Core Pieces for the Columbus Blue Jackets

We talk quite a bit about the future core of the Columbus Blue Jackets. That core is at least a couple of years away from being a serious contender. Who do we consider to be a part of it?
Minnesota Wild v Columbus Blue Jackets
Minnesota Wild v Columbus Blue Jackets / Jason Mowry/GettyImages
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The Blue Jackets are going to be deep and talented on defense - assuming they develop some of their young players properly.

We'll start with the obvious ones here: Zach Werenski (signed through 2027-28) and Damon Severson (signed through 2030-31); are both anchors here for the next half decade or so.

Werenski is a legitimate top pairing defenseman in this league, when healthy. You can build around him. Severson is versatile, but probably best utilized on the second pair. Idealy, this is your #1 and #3 defenseman, in two years' time.

Jan 25, 2024; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski (8) against the
Jan 25, 2024; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski (8) against the / Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

David Jiricek may be unhappy with his current situation, but the team has to find a way to keep him around. He's the obvious future partner for Werenski, with the potential to become a dominant two-way threat in the NHL. He can be the #2 guy.

Denton Mateychuk could also be a top pairing guy in the NHL, and will almost certainly work his way into the top-four at some point. But, will he be ready for second pairing duty by 2025?

The depth options are great for the Jackets, also. Look no further than the next tier of top prospects for the team: Stanislav Svozil and Corson Ceulemans. And, we cannot overlook Adam Boqvist in all of this - let's not forget that he was an 8th overall pick himself. When healthy, he's looked really strong alongside Werenski.

That gives this team a pretty solid group of 7/8 defensemen, two or three years down the road. It's just going to take some time and the proper development (I know, I know).

The future is just as bright up front. We'll talk about how the forward pieces come together on the next page.