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Blue Jackets stay put in draft lottery, will draft fifth overall

Columbus will pick in the No. 5 spot for the first time in franchise history

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider /

If you're a glass half full kind of person, you look at Wednesday night's NHL draft lottery and feel good that the Blue Jackets didn't drop a spot despite the percentages saying that was the most likely outcome.

If you're a glass half empty kind of person, you'll be disappointed Columbus didn't move up to pick first overall for the second time in franchise history.

Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen split the difference after the lottery, which was held at NHL Network studios in New Jersey. Columbus entered the day with an 8.5 percent chance to win the lottery and move up to No. 1 overall, but instead, the team stayed put.

"I guess that's what the percentages are for," Kekalainen said after the lottery. "It was disappointing -- we were hoping we'd win 1 or 2, but at least we didn't slide back.

"Somebody said (we got) the fifth overall pick for The 5th Line, so I think that's appropriate."

Video: One On One w/ Jarmo (6/2/21)

The Blue Jackets will draft in the No. 5 spot for the first time in franchise history, having previous drafted first, second and third overall once apiece and also having picked fourth and sixth three times each. That means Columbus has a top-five pick for the seventh time in 21 drafts.

The team is coming off an 18-26-12 season that ended the franchise's four-year playoff streak and placed the squad fourth from bottom in points in the league, the team's worst record since the 2011-12 season. That delivered the Jackets the fifth-best odds in the draft lottery (expansion club Seattle slotted in at No. 3), but for the 14th time in 15 draft lotteries for the team, Columbus did not move up.

The only club to go north was the Kraken, which moved up to No. 2, swapping spots with Anaheim. Buffalo, which finished last in the league with 37 points, will select first overall while New Jersey stayed in the No. 4 spot.

Columbus enters the draft also owning the first-round picks of Toronto and Tampa Bay, acquired at the trade deadline in deals involving Nick Foligno and David Savard, respectively, but those will be lower in the draft as both of those teams qualified for the playoffs.

Kekalainen spoke Wednesday after the draft about how Columbus will proceed with those picks.

"I think that gives us a lot of flexibility," the general manager said. "We have those assets now that we can think of within our group (about) what is the best way to build from those picks. It could be a trade, it could be a pick, two picks out of three, or if we think that's the best way to do it and best way to go, we'll pick all three. But most likely we'll use one of those in a trade and try to get our team stronger for next year."

Notable names available at the top of the draft include University of Michigan standouts Owen Power, a defenseman projected by many to be the No. 1 overall pick, center/wing Kent Johnson and center Matty Beniers.

Other potential top-five picks according to draft rankings include USNTDP forward Chaz Lucius and teammate Luke Hughes, a defenseman who is the brother of former top-10 picks Jack and Quinn Hughes; Canadian junior stars in forwards Mason McTavish and Dylan Guenther or defenseman Brandt Clarke; and Swedish standouts William Eklund (wing) and Simon Edvinsson (defense).

Notable No. 5 overall picks include legends Jaromir Jagr (1990, Pittsburgh) and Scott Stevens (1982, Washington), longtime Montreal goaltender Carey Price (2005), former CBJ forwards Thomas Vanek (2003, Buffalo) and Raffi Torres (2000, New York Islanders), current players Phil Kessel (2006, Boston), Blake Wheeler (2004, Phoenix) and Morgan Rielly (2012, Toronto), as well as Bill Guerin (1989, New Jersey), Rob Niedermeyer (1993, Florida) and Petr Svoboda (1984, Montreal). 

Also taken fifth overall -- current Blue Jackets president of hockey operations John Davidson, a goalie who was chosen at No. 5 by St. Louis in 1973 and went on to a 10-year NHL career, two decades-plus of broadcasting work and has since spent time in the front offices in St. Louis, New York and Columbus.

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