COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The Columbus Blue Jackets drafted Canadian center Adam Fantilli No. 3 overall in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft on Wednesday in Nashville.

The 18-year-old University of Michigan product is Columbus’ highest draft pick in eight years. Fantilli is coming off one of the best freshman seasons in college hockey history. He’s just the third freshman to win the Hobey Baker Award as the top player in college hockey, joining Paul Kariya and Jack Eichel.

Fantilli, along with No. 1 overall pick Connor Bedard, led Canada to a gold medal at the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship in a 3-2 overtime win over the Czech Republic.

Leading up to the draft, CBJ President John Davidson said “we really need” a center and they’re getting an all-around player to fill that position.

The Blue Jackets’ top centers are captain Boone Jenner and central Ohio natives Sean Kuraly and Jack Roslovic.

This is the second time in three years Columbus has used its first pick to draft a player from the Wolverines. The CBJ drafted forward Kent Johnson No. 5 overall in 2021. They also selected defenseman Zach Werenski from Michigan with the No. 8 pick in 2015.

Fantilli’s 1.81 points per game were the most in college hockey since 2017.

Fantilli will be part of a new era of Blue Jackets hockey as the team is expected to officially announce the hiring of new coach Mike Babcock this weekend.