Jarmo Kekalainen's Draft Day Moves

By Coby Maeir on May 12, 2023 at 10:15 am
Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen announces David Jiricek (not pictured) as the number six overall pick to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round of the 2022 NHL Draft at Bell Centre.
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL Draft, which takes place on June 28-29 in Nashville, is just 47 days away. Since his first draft as Blue Jackets general manager in 2013, Jarmo Kekalainen has made 15 moves during the draft. Let's take a look at all 15. 


The Blue Jackets traded the 44th overall pick in 2013 to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for that draft's 50th and 89th picks. The Penguins selected goaltender Tristan Jarry at No. 44 and the Blue Jackets drafted defenseman Dillon Heatherington at No. 50 and forward Oliver Bjorkstrand at No. 89. Heatherington never played for the Jackets while Bjorkstrand posted 111-123--234 in 382 games in Columbus. In 206 games with Pittsburgh, Jarry has recorded a .914 SV& and 2.65 GAA, registering a 117-60-20 record. 


Columbus traded the 63rd pick in 2014 to Detroit for the 76th pick in that draft and the 80th pick in 2015. The Red Wings selected center Dominic Turgeon, who played just nine career NHL games, while the Jackets drafted Elvis Merzlikins in 2014 and did not make the pick in 2015. Merzlikins has registered a record of 55-62-22, a .906 SV%, and 3.13 GAA across four seasons with the Jackets.


This marked the first time Kekalainen traded back into the first round, sending the 34th and 68th overall picks in 2015 to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for the 29th overall pick, which he used to select defenseman Gabriel Carlsson. The Leafs selected blue-liner Travis Dermott at No. 34 and Martins Dzierkals at No. 68. Carlsson is no longer with the Blue Jackets after playing in 75 games across six seasons with the team, Dermott is now with the Vancouver Canucks after 251 games with Toronto, and Dzierkals never made it to the NHL.


In another trade with Toronto, the Blue Jackets sent Kerby Rychel to the Maple Leafs in exchange for defenseman Scott Harrington and the 141st pick in the 2017 draft, which the Jackets did not have at the time of selection. Harrington played in 185 games across six seasons for the Blue Jackets, while Rychel never played for the Leafs. 


In perhaps his best trade as the Blue Jackets general manager, Kekalainen sent Brandon Saad, Anton Forsberg, and the 142nd pick in the 2018 draft to the Blackhawks in exchange for Artemi Panarin, Tyler Motte, and the 170th pick in that draft, which they used to select winger Jonathan Davidsson. In two seasons with the Jackets, Panarin posted 55-114--169 in 160 games while Motte played just 31 games in Columbus, and Davidsson played six NHL games with Ottawa.

The Blue Jackets also acquired the rights to forward Jordan Schroeder, who played 21 games with the club, in exchange for the rights to Dante Salituro, who never played in the NHL.

Additionally, they acquired the 45th pick in the 2017 draft from the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for Keegan Kolesar. The Jackets selected Alexandre Texier, who's registered 22-27--49 in 123 games in Columbus, with that pick. Kolesar has posted 18-37--55 in 196 games for Vegas. 


The Blue Jackets traded the 143rd pick in the 2019 draft to the Red Wings for the 159th pick in the 2018 draft, which they used to select Tim Berni, who played in 59 games for Columbus this year. 


Columbus traded back in 2019, sending the 81st pick to Florida for picks 104 and 114 in that draft, which they used to select Eric Hjorth, who is no longer with the organization, and Dmitri Voronkov, who just signed his entry-level contract with the club. Florida used its pick to draft Cole Schwindt, who's played three NHL games so far and is now with the Flames organization.


The Blue Jackets acquired the signing rights to Max Domi along with the 78th pick in the draft, which they used to draft Samuel Knazko, from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for the signing rights to Josh Anderson. Domi signed a two-year, $5.3M cap hit contract with Columbus while Anderson inked a seven-year, $5.5M cap hit pact with the Habs. Knazko made his NHL debut this year, playing in two games for Columbus.

The club also sent the 207th pick in 2020 to Anaheim for the 203rd pick in 2022, which they used to select James Fisher


This marks what might be Kekalainen's biggest draft day move, as he sent Seth Jones, the 32nd pick in 2021, and the 173rd pick in 2022 to Chicago in exchange for Adam Boqvist, the 12th and 44th picks in 2021, and the sixth pick in 2022. Chicago selected Nolan Allan at No. 32 and Dominic James at No. 173, while Columbus drafted Cole Sillinger at No. 12, David Jiricek at No. 6, and traded the 44th pick to Carolina for Jake Bean. In their time with the Jackets, Sillinger has posted 19-23--42 in 143 games, Boqvist has registered 16-30--46 in 98 games, and Jiricek has played in four games. 

One day later, they traded Cam Atkinson to the Philadelphia Flyers for Jakub Voracek. Since the trade, Atkinson has played 73 games and registered 23-27--50 while Voracek scored 7-61--68 in 90 games before his contract was dealt to Arizona.


The Jackets made just one trade during the 2022 Draft, sending the 130th pick in the 2023 draft to the San Jose Sharks for the 138th pick in 2022, which they used to select goaltender Sergei Ivanov

How would you grade these moves? With the Jackets having two first-round picks in this year's draft, how active would you like Kekalainen to be?

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