It's been a busy few days in the world of hockey with two drafts that had every team giving a little to build the NHL's newest team, the Vegas Golden Knights, before bolstering their stable of players through the 2017 Entry Draft.
But before welcoming any new players to the team, the Jackets had to say goodbye to William Karlsson. The Swedish center was Vegas' selection from the Jackets' roster after Jarmo Kekalainen worked with the Golden Knights to make a deal that protected the Jackets' defensive corps, backup goaltender Joonas Korpisalo and young forward talent.
In exchange, Vegas received Columbus' 2017 first round pick, a 2019 second round pick and forward David Clarkson.
"We felt that the Vegas deal was very important to us we keep our group together, it gave us the certainty we needed," Kekalainen said. "We didn't have to scramble and sweat it out to the last moments. We thought it was worth it. It hurt because we didn't have the pick in the first but that's part of the business you have to live with."
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Because the team had to send their second-round pick to Vancouver as compensation for hiring John Tortorella, the Jackets weren't slated to make their first pick until the third round. But Kekalainen obtained the 45th overall pick from Las Vegas in exchange for prospect Keegan Kolesar, and selected center Alexandre Texier.
The Jackets were high on Texier. He's a player Kekalainen said the Jackets would have selected had they kept their first-round pick. Texier, the only Frenchman to be drafted this year and highest ever drafted French player, was also the youngest player chosen in this year's entry draft. He captured the Jean-Pierre Graff Trophy as the French League's Best Young Player in 2016-17.
Texier says he plans to move on from the French leagues and play in Sweden, Finland or Canada next year.
In the third round, the Jackets added a promising goaltender from Russia, Daniil Tarasov. While Tarasov missed last season due to a leg injury, the Jackets scouts and goaltending coach Ian Clark kept close tabs on the 18-year-old and had him ranked as the number one goalie on their draft lists. Tarasov is also from Novokuznetsk, the same home town as Sergei Bobrovsky.
In the fast-paced fourth, fifth and sixth rounds, the Jackets added center Emil Bemstrom from Sweden; Canadian center Kale Howarth; and 20-year-old Jonathan Davidsson, a Swedish right wing, before looking to Columbus for a home-grown hockey talent.
With pick 179, the Jackets selected Powell's Carson Meyer. He's the third Ohio-born player in franchise history and will play at Miami University this coming season as a sophomore.
"I think it's great," Kekalainen said. "He's progressed well. He's a late bloomer, but his college stats are impressive and (having) a local guy, that's always great."
As the Draft wound down, the Jackets used their final pick to take defenseman Robbie Stucker. Stucker is an 18-year-old from Minnesota who is set to play at Colorado College this year.
In total, the Jackets added three centers, two wings, a goalie and a defenseman to their prospect pool, reflecting a focus Kekalainen shared prior to going into the Draft. The organization has confidence in their current defensive depth and wanted to add to the offensive side of the ice.
Now the work begins. Most, if not all, of the newest Jackets' prospects are expected to attend Development Camp which begins today and runs through Thursday.
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