From the First Round to the Show: How Fast Have the Players Jarmo Kekalainen Has Drafted in the First Round Made Their NHL Debuts?

By Coby Maeir on July 26, 2022 at 10:15 am
Jarmo Kekalainen
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

While free agency has drawn most of the attention on this site over the past two weeks, and rightfully so, I thought I'd write about the other most important part of the offseason: the NHL Draft.

Since Jarmo Kekalainen was hired as the general manager of the Blue Jackets on February 13, 2013, he has made 14 first-round selections, including the most recent selections of defensemen David Jiricek and Denton Mateychuk sixth and 12th overall, respectively. While fans may be excited to see Jiricek and Mateychuk playing for the Jackets, they may have to be patient, as every prospect develops at their own pace. With that being said, let's see how long it took every first-round pick in the Jarmo Kekalainen era to make their NHL debut.


14th: Alexander Wennberg, C, Djurgardens IF Stockholm [Swe-1]

Before making his NHL debut on the opening night of the 2014-15 season, Wennberg spent the 2013-14 season playing for Frolunda of the Swedish Hockey League, where he scored 16 goals and 21 points in 50 regular-season games in addition to a goal in seven playoff games. 

19th: Kerby Rychel, LW, Windsor Spitfires [OHL]

Rychel would also make his debut in the 2014-15 season, but not until the team's 23rd game. He spent the entire 2013-14 season in the OHL and played the first 27 games of the regular season with the Windsor Spitfires before playing the final 31 games in addition to 20 playoff games with the Guelph Storm. In the regular season, he scored 34 goals and 90 points and added 11 goals and 32 points in the playoffs. He also scored six goals and 13 points in 22 AHL games in the 2014-15 season before debuting in the NHL. 

27th: Marko Dano, C, Bratislava Slovan [KHL]

Like Wennberg, Dano made his NHL debut on the opening night of the 2014-15 season. During the 2013-14 season, he scored three goals and five points in 41 regular-season games for the KHL's Bratislava Slovan and added two goals and six points in 10 regular-season games for the AHL's Springfield Falcons in addition to recording two assists for the club in five playoff games. 


16th: Sonny Milano, LW, U.S. National Under-18 Team [USHL]

Milano made his debut in the 79th game of the 2015-16 season. In the 2014-15 season, he scored 22 goals and 68 points in 50 games for the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL in addition to five assists in 10 games with the AHL's Springfield Falcons. Before making his debut in the 2015-16 season, he scored 12 goals and 27 points in 48 AHL games with the Lake Erie Monsters


8th: Zach Werenski, D, U. of Michigan [Big-10]

Werenski made his debut on the opening night of the 2016-17 season. He spent most of the 2015-16 season playing at Michigan, where he scored 11 goals and 36 points in 36 games before scoring a goal in seven AHL regular-season games with the Monsters in addition to five goals and 14 points in 17 AHL playoff games. 

29th: Gabriel Carlsson, D, Linkopings Jrs. (Sweden)

Carlsson made his debut in the 81st game of the 2016-17 season. He spent part of the 2015-16 season playing for Linkopings where he scored two goals and eight points in 11 games before appearing in 85 regular-season games over the next two seasons for the Linkopings SweHL team, where he scored three goals and 13 points in addition to appearing in 12 playoff games over that span. In the 2016-17 season, he played in three AHL games with the Monsters and registered an assist.


3rd: Pierre-Luc Dubois, C, Cape Breton Screaming Eagles [QMJHL]

Dubois made his debut on the opening night of the 2017-18 season, and spent the 2016-17 season in the QMJHL, playing the first 20 regular-season games with Cape Breton before playing the final 28 regular-season games in addition to 19 playoff games with Blainville-Boisbriand Armada. He scored 21 goals and 55 points in the regular season and registered nine goals and 22 points in the playoffs.


18th: Liam Foudy, C, London Knights [OHL]

Foudy made his debut in the 57th game of the 2019-20 season. He played parts of the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons with London, where he scored 56 goals and 111 points in 94 regular-season games in addition to six goals and 12 points in 11 playoff games, all of which came in the 2018-19 season. He also played in eight AHL playoff games in 2018-19 and scored two goals.


21st: Yegor Chinakov, RW, Omsk Jrs. (Russia)

Chinakov made his debut in the third game of the 2021-22 season and spent the entire 2020-21 season playing for Omsk Avangard of the KHL, where he scored 10 goals and 17 points in 32 regular-season games and added five goals and seven assists in 21 playoff games. He appeared in one AHL game for the Monsters before debuting in the NHL and scored a goal.


5th: Kent Johnson, C, U. of Michigan [Big-10]

Johnson made his debut in the 74th game of the 2021-22 season. He spent the majority of the 2021-22 season playing at Michigan, where he scored eight goals and 37 points in 32 games. 

12th: Cole Sillinger, C, Sioux Falls Stampede [USHL]

Sillinger made his debut on the opening night of the 2021-22 season and is the only first-round pick in Kekalainen's tenure to suit up on the opening night the same year he was drafted. 

25th: Corson Ceulemans, D, Brooks Bandits [AJHL]

Ceulemans played the 2021-22 season at the University of Wisconsin, where he scored seven goals and 22 points in 34 games. He has yet to debut in the NHL.

Given the data, it would be surprising to see either of Jiricek and Mateychuk playing for the Jackets come opening night, but depending on how they play in camp, they could be. Only time will tell. 

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