Blue Jackets Remain Confident Despite Lottery Loss


All that build up. Would the Blue Jackets finally shake the bad taste of draft lottery failures of the past? Not only did the Blue Jackets not win one of the two lottery draws, the result were even shared to millions before the Blue Jackets’ card was flipped by deputy commissioner Bill Daly.

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When all the dust settled after a bone-crushing night for fans, the Blue Jackets dropped one spot and will pick third at the 2023 NHL Draft in Nashville.

Impact of Missing First

The Blue Jackets held a 13.5% chance of winning the right to pick first and landing generational talent Connor Bedard. Instead, the Blackhawks, who had the same number of points in the standings, held the winning combination. The impact was felt hours after the announcement.

According to a report from the Chicago Sun Times, the Blackhawks sold 500 new full season ticket plans and had over $2.5 million in new sales just hours after the results were shared.

Of the many reasons the Blue Jackets would be disappointed, missing on the business side of things would be near the top of the list. Landing Bedard would have ultimately transformed the Blue Jackets and the Arena District. That’s why the reveal was edge of your seat action when it happened.

Then on the ice, missing Bedard means missing out on another generational talent to help lead the team forward. Had he got the chance to play with Johnny Gaudreau and others right away, he would have been almost a shoe-in for rookie of the year.

They Missed Second Too

The Blue Jackets were among the last three teams to be revealed on the broadcast. But it was the Anaheim Ducks who prevailed in the second lottery drawing and earning the right to pick second and most likely, Adam Fantilli.

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According to many around the scouting world, Bedard and Fantilli are the consensus top-two picks in the draft. We’ll see what the Ducks ultimately decide. They have center depth in Trevor Zegras and Mason McTavish. Do they possibly look in a different direction?

In most years, falling out of the top two would feel like the ultimate dagger that would take a decade or more to recover from. But thanks to a top-heavy draft loaded with centers, the Blue Jackets are still in a prime position.

Blue Jackets Remain Confident

One look said it all on ESPN. John Davidson and Jarmo Kekalainen looked stone faced after finding out their lottery fate. Kekalainen admitted seeing the gaffe of announcing the third pick too soon when it happened.

“Well, I think it was pretty evident what was gonna happen. So yeah, spoiled the moment, I guess,” Kekalainen said.

The Blue Jackets fell just one spot ultimately when they could have fallen to fourth. This allows them the chance to pick which player they want at three. According to Kekalainen, they will get a great player.

“We’re going to get a great player at three. There’s no question in my mind. I think there’ll be a great center ice man available at three…I can’t emphasize it enough. We’re going to get a difference maker. We’re going to get a player that’s going to change the direction of the franchise.”

Jarmo Kekalainen Columbus Blue Jackets
Jarmo Kekäläinen says the Blue Jackets will get a franchise altering player at three. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Let the debate begin. Will it be Leo Carlsson, who will suit up for Team Sweden at the World Championships? Will it be Will Smith, who had one of the best seasons in U.S. Program history? Could they find someone else to fit the bill? Do they surprise us all and take a shot at Matvei Michkov?

The Blue Jackets own three of the first 34 picks of the upcoming draft. They can leave Nashville with their top center of the future and two other really good prospects. Or they could leave with a top center and help for their NHL roster if they elect to trade those other two picks.

In Conclusion

The Blue Jackets were guaranteed to pick no worse than fourth no matter the result. That was the good news. But the way it happened knowing that they will miss on Bedard still stings especially given some of the comments shared on the air.

It is perfectly justified to feel both really upset at the night but also really excited for the future knowing the Blue Jackets will get one of the top available centers in this draft. All four of Bedard, Fantilli, Carlsson and Smith would likely go first overall in most other years.

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The Blue Jackets can now look forward knowing where they stand. They’re still in prime position to add to one of the best prospect pools in the NHL. Now it’s on them to find the right mix and start to tap into the potential that everyone thinks is there.

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