The Columbus Blue Jackets 2022-23 season has been over for quite a while at this point, however, some of their former members have been doing great things in the postseason. Whether it’s the players or an executive, they have a lot of ties to the two organizations who are duking it out for the greatest prize in hockey, the Stanley Cup. We’ve seen the first game of the series which was a hard-fought win for the Vegas Golden Knights in a 5-2 game. If you’re a Blue Jackets fan who still hasn’t decided who you want to root for, a case can certainly be made for both teams.
Our Nicholas Arnold talked about how well some of the former Blue Jackets in Florida are performing so far in the postseason last week. As a result, I’ll brush over them a bit to avoid repetition, however, it’s impossible to not talk about their importance to the run. Sergei Bobrovsky won the Vezina Trophy with the Blue Jackets twice and was part of the team’s incredible series against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the 2018-19 season. Anthony Duclair spent the majority of that same season in Columbus before falling out of favor with the coaching staff and being moved to the Ottawa Senators. On the executive front, Bill Zito, the Panthers’ general manager, spent seven seasons as a part of the Blue Jackets’ front office before getting a well-deserved opportunity to lead an organization.
There is another player that may not be as notable but is getting his opportunity to play for the Stanley Cup. Zac Dalpe is a name that may not be as well known in Columbus, however, he did spend a few games with the Blue Jackets over the course of his stint in the organization. Up north in Cleveland, though, he’s very well known as he spent parts of five seasons with the Monsters in the American Hockey League (AHL). Although it’s not a direct tie to the organization, it’s also a bit of a fun fact that Nick Cousins was selected by the Philadelphia Flyers with a draft pick that was originally owned by the Blue Jackets that they received as part of the infamous Jeff Carter trade.
Vegas Golden Knights
There are a lot of former Blue Jackets on the Golden Knights roster, although many of them didn’t have lengthy stints with the organization. Jonathan Marchessault spent roughly two seasons with the Blue Jackets to start his career as an undrafted rookie, carrying a slightly different name at the time. He only played two games in Ohio’s capital though, as he spent the majority of his time with their AHL affiliate at the time, the Springfield Falcons.
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William Karlsson spent parts of three seasons with the Blue Jackets, coming over with Rene Bourque in exchange for James Wisniewski in 2015. While he played well during his stint in Columbus, management made the difficult decision to leave him unprotected in the expansion draft and the rest is history. He became a star for Vegas in their first season, and although he hasn’t recaptured that magic, he has remained a solid core piece for them. While he may have been a Blue Jacket at one point, there’s no doubt Karlsson will be remembered as a Golden Knight in hockey’s history.
Keegan Kolesar is a name that may not be as familiar to Blue Jackets fans. He was drafted by the organization in 2015, yet he never suited up in either the NHL or AHL for them. He spent the entirety of his stint with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League before he was traded to Vegas in exchange for a 2017 second-round pick which ended up being Alexandre Texier.
Of course, nobody can forget Jonathan Quick’s hectic stint as a short-term Blue Jacket as well. Although he’s not getting much playing time, he may get himself another Stanley Cup ring if things go the Golden Knights’ way in this series. Lastly, there’s also a former Blue Jacket on the coaching staff. Ryan Craig is currently an assistant coach for Vegas, but toward the end of his playing career, he was a stalwart of Columbus’ AHL teams. He captained both the Falcons and the Monsters prior to his retirement at the conclusion of the 2016-17 season. His tenure was highlighted by the Monsters’ Calder Cup championship during the 2015-16 season.
It’ll certainly be difficult for a Blue Jackets fan to decide who to root for under these circumstances, however, it will certainly be an entertaining Stanley Cup Final. Regardless of how the remainder of the series goes, there will be a few Blue Jackets alumni hoisting the Stanley Cup when all is said and done. The only remaining question is which ones will earn that honor and who will have to try again next season.