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With three first-round picks, Kekalainen says Columbus will be ‘active and aggressive’ at Draft

Jun 24, 2013, 2:00 PM EDT

Jarmo Kekalainen Getty Images

If Jarmo Kekelainen’s past is any suggestion, he’ll be one to watch at the NHL Entry Draft.

The Blue Jackets GM — who, two months ago, shook up the trade deadline by acquiring Marian Gaborik — has vowed to be a mover and/or shaker at Sunday’s draft in New Jersey.

“Every draft is different, not just the players available but the conversations between clubs,” he told the Columbus Dispatch. “We’re going to be active and aggressive.”

That’s a quote worth paying attention to, as the rookie GM has the tools at his disposal to make a real splash.

Columbus holds three first-round picks — No. 14, 19 and 27 overall — and heads into Sunday with 17 players under contract for next season and over $18 million in cap space.

Kekalainen also has experience in holding three first-round picks from his time as St. Louis’ “draft guru.”

Here’s more, from the Dispatch:

In 2007, the Blues had three first-round picks — Nos. 9, 24 and 26 — at the draft in Nationwide Arena. Six years later, the results are a mixed bag. Kekalainen said the Blues tried hard to move up but couldn’t find any takers. So they traded down from the No. 9 spot, giving that pick to San Jose for No. 13 overall, a second-round pick and a third-round pick in 2008.

The Sharks took Logan Couture with the No. 9 pick, and the Blues took Lars Eller, who was later traded to Montreal for goaltender Jaroslav Halak. The Blues traded the No. 24 pick and a third-round pick to Calgary for No. 18 and took defenseman Ian Cole, who has had a so-so career. With the 26th overall pick, the Blues drafted [David] Perron, one of their “foundation” players.

“We would have taken Eller at No. 9, but we thought we’d get him later, and we were right,” Kekalainen said. “For San Jose, Couture was definitely a player worth moving up for.”

Kekalainen says his approach to drafting players is very basic.

“I have a very simple philosophy: You work hard and you rely on your instincts, which are shaped by your experiences,” he explained. “You have to get to the core of the player, find out what motivates them, find out what they’re about.”
  1. DonkeyStick - Jun 24, 2013 at 2:18 PM

    This draft is extremely deep, and they should not do anything to “shake” things up and just draft the best player at each their selection. They are still a few years away from contending, let the better teams get older in the division and compete in 2-3 years for a cup.

  2. sjsblitz - Jun 24, 2013 at 2:24 PM


  3. richardwilliams2013 - Jun 24, 2013 at 2:57 PM

    @Donkey Stick. please tell me you are joking because we are not a few years away from contending seeing as we were 1 point away from making the playoffs and if jarmo wants to shake things up, he will shake things up and get columbus the best deal possible. So stop speaking non sense

    • nyrnashty - Jun 24, 2013 at 4:43 PM

      Yeah,1 point away from making the playoffs in a shortened season. You can’t judge anything on this half year. The NHL starts back up in the fall! Your team is currently still missing pieces to get you in the playoffs let alone being a cup contender.

      • kreemer16 - Jun 24, 2013 at 8:55 PM

        If you knew anything about the previous season for “our team”, you would know that we just got stronger throughout the season, so a longer schedule in theory would be better for us than a shortened season. Add the other half to this year, the Blue Jackets would have been at least a 6 seed.

    • DonkeyStick - Jun 25, 2013 at 9:23 AM

      Competing for the 8th playoff spot (where HALF THE LEAGUE gets in) and contending for a Stanley Cup are two different things don’t you think? But I suppose I’m just speaking “non sense.” Oh wait, you meant “nonsense.”

  4. 19to77 - Jun 24, 2013 at 3:08 PM

    Should target guys like Horvat, Gauthier, etc. If they try to move up, Monahan or Lindholm. Centre depth is the greatest weak point on their roster.

    • jaredphi - Jun 24, 2013 at 3:31 PM

      Max Domi might be a possibility for CBJ too. Good hands and he can play wing along with center.

      • jaredphi - Jun 24, 2013 at 4:04 PM

        Or…remote chance here…Barkov…although he’ll likely go in the top 6 so CBJ would need to trade up for him.

  5. howintensive - Jun 24, 2013 at 4:38 PM

    Watch out for Columbus. A team with money to spend in a cap league and a first year GM determined to make smart decisions can be very dangerous. In good ways and bad ways.

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