The Argument for and Against the Blue Jackets Tanking the Rest of the Season

As we approach the trade deadline, one big question arises. Should the Blue Jackets throw this season away and try to improve their draft lottery odds?

2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7
2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7 / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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The prize of this year's NHL Draft is Macklin Celebrini. He has tremendous potential, and would give the Jackets one of the league's best young combinations down the middle.

Obviously, if you aren't going to make the playoffs, your best bet is to finish as low as possible and draft as high as you possibly can.

In this year's draft, there is a clear cut #1 prospect: Boston University superstar Macklin Celebrini. It's basically consensus at this point that he'll be the first player plucked from the draft, and I don't see that changing.

What is different from last year, however, is the drop-off after #1. Last year, there were a handful of players available that can become "face of the franchise" types. The Jackets landed their own, in Adam Fantilli.

This year, there is a handful of players - I'll say, 5-7 of them - who won't be that type of franchise-altering prospect; but could, in time, develop into top-line types.

So, if you don't hit the jackpot and pick first overall, you could get a really good player.

With all of that aside, my stance on this whole situation? Tanking is a bad idea. This draft doesn't have an Adam Fantilli sitting third overall.

In fact, if nothing changed and they picked fourth overall, I would debate that they could still end up with the second best player in the draft. I don't see one or two prospects that stand out as "must haves" aside from Celebrini, and they're already cemented outside of those odds. The best they can hope for is finishing with the league's third-worst record.

And even that's a tough ask because, honestly, they just aren't as bad as Anaheim. They will probably even pass Arizona, and maybe Ottawa.

What will matter with this class is development. If you can develop whatever player you pick better than the other guys, I think you'll have a better piece in the long run. Even if you don't have a top-two or three pick.

More importantly, I think this team needs to show the young players already on the roster how to win hockey games. We can't complain that they're always terrible, and then ask them to be terrible for just a little while longer.

We also can't ask them to lose out this season, and come into next season ready to be a 95+ point team. Whatever player they draft this year, unless it's Celebrini, is going to take two, or three, or more years before they're ready.

At that point, will we still be complaining about them being terrible because they built a losing culture? Or, would we rather bring this prospect into a winning environment, and have them be the missing piece? The latter would be my preference.

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