The Columbus Blue Jackets needed good news.
After going through unspeakable pain after the tragic death of Matiss Kivlenieks, the Blue Jackets turned the page to the NHL Draft. Armed with three first-round picks and the potential of big trades, they had a chance to make Friday night a special night in franchise history.
As it turned out, they enjoyed perhaps one of their best nights ever.
Through a series of events, the Blue Jackets were not only able to get help for next season, they were able to get significant help in future seasons. They not only won the night. They did so in dominating fashion.
Let’s recap everything that happened on Friday starting with the Seth Jones trade.
Blackhawks Make Big Splash
Reports started to surface that Seth Jones was being traded to the Chicago Blackhawks. The question then became what would the return for the Blue Jackets be. News slowly started to trickle out on this blockbuster of a deal. Here are the particulars.
- Chicago receives Seth Jones, who will sign an eight-year, $76 million contract to start after next season, the 32nd pick in the 2021 Draft (Nolan Allan) and a sixth-round pick.
- Columbus receives Adam Boqvist, the 12th pick in the 2021 Draft (Cole Sillinger), the 44th pick in the 2021 Draft and a 2022 first-round pick that is top-two lottery protected. If the pick becomes top-two, then the first rounder is in 2023 with no lottery protection.
After acquiring Caleb Jones from the Edmonton Oilers, it only made sense for the Blackhawks to try to land Seth. They were very interested but only if they didn’t give up Kirby Dach or Alex DeBrincat. For them, that’s mission accomplished. They get a cornerstone defender under team control until 2030 while keeping their top prospects in tact.
For the Blue Jackets, they got a massive haul since an extension was reached. They swapped first rounders and moved up from 32 to 12 in the pick that became Sillinger. They also got Boqvist, a noted offensive defenseman who has a big upside and is only 20 years old. He should help out the power play right away.
But in addition, the Blue Jackets got a first rounder for the loaded 2022 Draft. That was key in getting this deal done. Their pipeline was pretty barren. Now it’s in much better shape.
Instant Reaction: For the Blackhawks, Jones needs to be real good in order for this deal to make sense. They gave up a ton to get him. He has to deliver. For the Blue Jackets, they made the best out of a situation where the player didn’t want to sign with them. Advantage: Blue Jackets.
Blue Jackets Acquire Another Defenseman
Soon after the Jones trade was completed, the Blue Jackets acquired RFA defenseman Jake Bean from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for the 44th pick that was acquired from the Blackhawks.
Many people thought Bean was going to be taken by Seattle in the expansion draft. They opted for Morgan Geekie instead which left Bean on the Hurricanes. The Blue Jackets took advantage of this opportunity.
Kekalainen said that they’ve liked Bean since his draft year and have followed him since. With the chances of a new contract with the Hurricanes almost non-existent, the Blue Jackets were able to acquire him at a fair price. He projects as a top-four defenseman and will have ample opportunity to play right away. Like Boqvist, Bean will help on the power play.
Instant reaction: This is a great piece of business by the Blue Jackets to get top-four help. Two great moves and we haven’t even reached the virtual draft yet.
Blue Jackets Make Most of Three Picks
After the trades, the Blue Jackets still owned three first rounders at 5, 12 and 25 (24.) They went right to work on adding much needed skill to their team. Then they topped it off by adding a solid defender.
You can read their profiles on the links above. The Blue Jackets prioritized centers with their first two picks. In Johnson, they get one of the most skilled players in the entire draft. Even Head Amateur Scout Ville Siren admitted jumping out of his seat sometimes when Johnson made a play. Although Johnson played wing, he mostly played center before and the Blue Jackets see him as a center in the future.
In Sillinger, the Blue Jackets get a skilled center who is not afraid to get physical. His dad Mike played with the Blue Jackets. Cole was born in Columbus so this was a special night for him.
“I felt a very relieved when it happened, knowing I’m going to such a prestigious organization like Columbus,” Sillinger said. “I’m very excited. I was born in Columbus and my dad played there. I’m really excited to get back there.”
In Ceulemans, the Blue Jackets add another offensive defenseman to the fold who has size and can skate. He made his mark at the recently completed U-18’s when he recorded eight points in six games in helping Team Canada win the gold medal.
As well, Ceulemans and Johnson will play each other in the Big 10 when Wisconsin and Michigan play. Ceulemans admits Michigan is a talented team but that Wisconsin is an experienced team. The games should be closely contested. Perhaps some bragging rights will be on the line too.
Instant reaction: The Blue Jackets aced their picks. Once they got the defensemen in Boqvist and Bean, they could focus on adding quality centers. In Johnson and Sillinger, they did that. But then they also added a defender who projects as a top-four defenseman who will be able to play in all situations. Even many in the hockey world thought this was an incredible piece of drafting by the Blue Jackets. There’s no doubt. They dominated.
Round two of the draft goes off at 11 A.M. eastern time on Saturday with the Buffalo Sabres making the first pick at 33rd overall. The Blue Jackets hold six picks with their first coming at 69th overall.
A long season that fell short of expectations. A new coach. An unspeakable tragedy. Trading their best defensemen. The Blue Jackets endured many different kinds of emotions throughout the season and into the offseason. They needed good news to rally around.
A team and their fans came together in celebration of the NHL Draft at Nationwide Arena on Friday. Everyone left feeling good about themselves.
Reinforcements are coming. The Blue Jackets made sure to turn a bad situation into their favor. We may come to remember this night forever once it’s all said and done.
For one night, the Blue Jackets dominated the hockey world. They were the first star of the night by a longshot.
I am a fully credentialed writer who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Monsters and Erie Otters as well as the Ontario Hockey League and NHL Draft. The 2021-22 season will mark eight seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager.