Jarmo Kekalainen Pushing His Chips Forward To Get Blue Jackets In 2024 Playoffs

By Coby Maeir on June 9, 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

After reportedly hiring Mike Babcock as the team's next head coach, trading a first-round and second-round pick for Ivan Provorov, and acquiring Damon Severson in a sign-and-trade over the span of six days, Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen is doing his best to back up his words from the post-season press conference with action.

"We want to get back into the playoffs," Kekalainen said on April 15. "We've had enough of being on the outside looking in and watching the playoffs on TV."

Kekalainen isn't hiring Babcock and trading future assets for Provorov unless he thinks this team can be one of the last 16 still alive after the regular season, not in two or three years, but next year. 

As he showed with Friday's acquisition of Severson, Kekalainen is not done making moves.

Kekalainen's contract is set to expire after the 2024-25 season, so is he feeling pressure to get the team back into the playoffs to help secure his job?

This can be a risky move, as the Blue Jackets were in the midst of a rebuild, and history shows that rushing a rebuild can sometimes set a franchise back several years. But Kekalainen is clearly confident in his ability to build a team capable of reaching the playoffs in 2024.

Will he do it? Only time will tell.

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