COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The Columbus Blue Jackets are awaiting the NHL draft lottery, scheduled for Monday at 8 p.m.
The Jackets finished second to last in the NHL for the 2022-23 season. Because of that, they have the second-best odds of getting the No. 1 overall pick for the draft on June 28. Their tumultuous, injury-riddled season culminated in the firing of coach Brad Larsen after only two seasons.
- 13.5% chance for #1 pick
- 14.1% chance for #2 pick
- 30.7% chance for #3 pick
- 41.7% chance for #4 pick
NBC4 Sports Director Jerod Smalley spoke one-on-one with John Davidson, the Blue Jackets president of hockey operations about the search for a coach, waiting to find out where they’ll pick in the draft and much more. You can watch that interview in the video player above.
The Blue Jackets didn’t go far to hire Larsen, who spent seven seasons as an assistant under John Tortorella, the most successful coach in Blue Jackets history. Davidson did not elaborate on whether they’re looking for an internal or external hire but did elaborate on what’s most important during the search.
“We know how important it is especially with a young group like we have. We have to have somebody who’s going to be able to nurture these guys to make them grow,” Davidson said. “We had struggles last year. Our goals against [franchise worst 329 goals allowed] were just terrible! We have to get better … and try to make a decision that’s right for our franchise.”
On that same subject of doing what’s best for the franchise, Davidson was frank about the Blue Jackets need for “help at center ice.”
“This is a particular draft where, yes, there’s a dimensional player at the top, but there’s a lot of very, very good players, and a number of them are center icemen,” Davidson said. “I would venture to say now that when we go through the draft in late June, we’re going to have a center iceman join our team and that’s something that we really need.”
The Blue Jackets’ top centers are captain Boone Jenner and central Ohio natives Sean Kuraly and Jack Roslovic.
Connor Bedard, the consensus No. 1 draft prospect, plays center and has drawn comparisons to Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby and Edmonton’s Connor McDavid.
“A lot of people do talk about Bedard as a generational player, number one, but when you go through the next number of players, these are very exciting players and very good players,” Davidson said. “As I said, a number of them are center icemen, which we need badly.”