For the second time in franchise history, the Columbus Blue Jackets will own the 21st overall pick in the NHL draft.
The first time was 2009, and Columbus was fresh off their first trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Needing help along the blue line, the Blue Jackets would use the pick on defenseman John Moore.
Moore would score two goals in his 86-game tenure with Columbus before being traded to the New York Rangers on a package centered around the Blue Jackets acquisition of Marian Gaborik. Moore has bounced around since, and though used sparingly, is currently in the bubble with the Boston Bruins as an extra defenseman.
(The Blue Jackets would get a long-term, quality defenseman in that 2009 draft, using a third round selection on David Savard.)
Two years before Moore was selected #21, the Edmonton Oilers used the pick to select a familiar name to Blue Jacket fans: Riley Nash. He's one of two 21st overall picks in the last 15 years to accumulate more than 150 points in his NHL career. The other? Another Riley: Oilers forward Riley Sheahan, taken in the spot by the Detroit Red Wings in 2010.
There has been some degree of recent success with the pick, too. While the last two #21 picks, Samuel Poulin by the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ryan Merkley by the San Jose Sharks, are yet to see NHL ice, the New York Rangers pick of Filip Chytil in 2017 has proven to be a smart one. The center is still just 20 years old and is already coming off his second consecutive season with double-digit goals.
Prior to Chytil, the six previous players taken at 21 - Julien Gauthier, Colin White, Robby Fabbri, Frederik Gauthier, Mark Jankowski, and Stefan Noesen - all played at least a dozen NHL games this year. In fact, the last time the selection was used on a player who didn't make to the big leagues? The Washington Capitals selection of forward Anton Gustafsson, all the way back in 2008. Before that, one would have to go all the way back to 1994 and the Boston Bruins pick of goalie Evgeni Ryabchikov.
The pick does offer a high ceiling, too. In 2005, the Toronto Maple Leafs would use the pick on current Bruin bubble deserter Tuuka Rask. Rask already has one Vezina Trophy and is a nominee this season. Saku Koivu picked up over 800 career points after being selected at #21 in 1993, and three years later the Sharks would take Marco Sturm, who scored 242 goals over his 14-year career.
This is an extremely deep draft, and while there won't be a player with the skill of assumed first overall pick Alexis Lafrenière sitting for Columbus at 21, odds are good that the Blue Jackets will be able to add another piece to an already bright future.