On Tuesday, as the current Blue Jackets were getting ready to author a memorable New Year's Eve win over Florida, the future of the franchise was turning in impressive performances at the World Juniors.
Now, as the annual Under-20 tournament heads to the knockout round, all four Blue Jackets draft picks to qualify for the tourney have a chance to bring home a medal.
Russian forwards Kirill Marchenko and Dmitri Voronkov, Canadian forward Liam Foudy and Swiss defenseman Tim Berni all saw their teams advance to the quarterfinal round, which begins Thursday. And all had a key part in their teams' success in the opening round robin.
Canada finished atop Group B with three wins in four games, and Foudy had a big part in that. The 2018 first-round pick of the Blue Jackets is tied for third on the Canadian team with two goals and has added an assist for three points. He also was named the top player on Team Canada in its first-round loss to Russia, and his speed has been turning heads at the tournament.
Meanwhile, Marchenko and Voronkov -- who each play in the KHL despite both being just 19 -- both have had successful tournaments for a Russian team that placed third in Group B behind Canada and the United States with a 2-2 record. Marchenko, a 2018 second-round pick of Columbus, leads the Russian team with a 2-4-6 line, while Voronkov (fourth round, 2019) has a 1-3-4 line.
The two hooked up for a pair of goals in the Russians' Tuesday win over Germany -- one for Marchenko assisted by Voronkov and one the other way around -- while Marchenko also had a beautiful snipe tally on the way to being named Russia's top player.
Berni, meanwhile, has been a rock for the Switzerland squad, which won three of its preliminary round games to place second in Group A. Berni, the team captain who is playing in his third World Juniors, had a three assists and was plus-3 in the four round-robin games, including this slick pass that led to a goal Tuesday. He was chosen in the sixth round of the 2018 draft.
Now the fun begins as the quarterfinals start Thursday. Switzerland and Russia meet in a knockout game in Trinec that begins at 6:30 a.m., while Canada meets Slovakia at 9 a.m. in Ostrava. The other two quarterfinals match up the United States and defending champion Finland at 11:30 and Sweden vs. the host Czech Republic at 2 p.m.
The semifinals will take place Saturday with the final Sunday at 1 p.m. in Ostrava. Games can be seen on the NHL Network.