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Draft preview: Columbus Blue Jackets – Draft day doldrums

The Columbus Blue Jackets don’t have many picks, but they’ll be busy on the signing front.

There is a goodchance the Blue Jackets will roll into the draft in Vancouver with just two picks – a third and a seventh. Matt Duchene cost them their first-rounder, while punting David Clarkson to Vegas cost them their second. The Jackets were all-in this season, but if you see any paper airplanes flying around the rink on draft day, blame Columbus’ scouts.

IMMEDIATE NEEDS: With the imminent departure of elite left winger Artemi Panarin, the Jackets have a big void on the top line next season, one which will not be filled internally. Re-signing Duchene, another pending UFA, would help the offensive picture, as would a bounce-back season by Alex Wennberg. Oh, and the Blue Jackets need a new No. 1 goalie, because Sergei Bobrovsky is leaving as a UFA, too.

LONG-TERM NEEDS: As noted, Columbus needs to pick up some picks, because it’s not just 2019 looking bare. The Jackets have traded away their second-round pick in 2020 and 2021, as well as their third-rounder in ’20. It will be tough to recoup when the team is going for playoff success, but it’s something to keep in mind.

CAP SITUATION: GM Jarmo Kekalainen has about $30 million to play with, but he also has a ton of work to do. Along with finding replacements for Panarin and Bobrovsky, he’ll try to re-sign Duchene, ink incoming rookie netminder Elvis Merzlikins to an extension and pony up for RFA defenseman Zach Werenski.

IN THE SYSTEM 2019-20: Merzlikins arrives with a lot of fanfare thanks to his success in Europe and his outgoing personality. But he’s not ready for starter minutes yet. The Blue Jackets traded away a couple prospects at the deadline, but they did entice big, mobile defenseman Andrew Peeke to leave Notre Dame after his junior year, and he should be a viable depth option right away.

DID YOU KNOW: Right winger Carson Meyer endured an entire season with a 25-inch tapeworm in his small intestine. It went undiscovered at NCAA Miami last year, and he lost a lot of weight. He transferred to Ohio State and played (and no doubt felt) much better.

LATE-ROUND GEMS:
(2000-2018 drafts)
Cam Atkinson, 157th, ’08
Steve Mason, 69th, ’06
David Savard, 94th, ’09
Kris Russell, 67th, ’05
Marc Methot, 168th, ’03
Josh Anderson, 95th, ’12
Matt Calvert, 127th, ’08
Oliver Bjorkstrand, 89th, ’13
Jared Boll, 101st, ’05
Derek Dorsett, 189th, ’06

PICKS AFTER SECOND ROUND: 117
100+ NHL GAMES: 22
PERCENT SUCCESS: 18.8%
NHL RANK: 3rd

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