Adam Fantilli wanted Columbus.
The No. 3 pick in the 2023 NHL draft got his wish.
On Tuesday, the NHL released a video that chronicles Fantilli’s night at the draft on Wednesday, June 28 in Nashville. The video started out with a sneak peek into his college tenure with the Michigan Wolverines in which he won the Hobey Baker as a freshman.
On a chilly spring day in Yost Ice Area, Adam Fantilli manifested his journey to Columbus.— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) August 30, 2023
"I'd say the team I want to go to is the Columbus Blue Jackets." https://t.co/SjXHhXzOpH
"This might be a little bit unorthodox but I'd say the team that I want to go to is the Columbus Blue Jackets," Fantilli said.
"I think that'd be a great spot. Got a lot of Michigan alumni there. Lot of great guys to learn from. I'd be so honored and grateful to be picked by them."
The perception that players and stars don’t want to be in Columbus has been well-documented over the years. Whether it’s been more true than not over time, that narrative finally took a hit last year when Johnny Gaudreau signed as a free agent with the Blue Jackets.
The ever-popular narrative only sways further the other way when nationally rated and elite prospects like Fantilli pine for Columbus in their pre-draft days. His emergence to potential stardom as an NHLer from the beginning in Columbus can only help the franchise shed that image that stars don't want to be there.
Winning on the ice, winning off of it.
People get up in arms about the perception from the national public and pundits that it feels like Columbus is always getting the shaft or is the butt of jokes across the national landscape.
On Wednesday, the NHL released the national television schedule for the upcoming season. The news that the Blue Jackets will not have any nationally televised games gives plenty of those in the fan base more ammunition about the perceived national slight. Columbus will have three ESPN+/Hulu games but none on ESPN/ABC or TNT, with the other 79 games on Bally Sports Network.
US National TV Games for 2023/24 season, by team— NHL News (@PuckReportNHL) August 30, 2023
• 62 exclusive games on TNT
• 100 games exclusive across multiple ESPN Networks:
- 16 on ABC
- 34 on ESPN
- 72 on ESPN+
- 50 on Hulu
TNT: https://t.co/5aILFPKSLc pic.twitter.com/uCh75QyI7l
There could always be changes later on if the networks decide they would like to add the Blue Jackets to ESPN/ABC or TNT. If Mike Babcock's bunch surprises as contenders that will help.
Far be it for us to have to remind you once again the Blue Jackets are coming off the second-worst record in the league, but it also makes little sense that each team can't get at least one nationally televised game, right? You can market Fantilli versus Bedard or put Columbus on the road in Pittsburgh at the very least.
We don't have to revisit what happened when the Blue Jackets entertained Tage Thompson and the Buffalo Sabres last season on TNT but Columbus did get by Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers on their other TNT broadcast in overtime thanks to Kent Johnson.
The Chicago Blackhawks have been one of the worst teams in the league for a while now but obviously, Connor Bedard grants them their national TV share (13!), and you’ll see him against Sidney Crosby and the Penguins on opening night.
You could certainly make the case that Fantilli alone could garner at least one game.
Even McDavid's Oilers were only slotted for one game in his debut season way back in 2015-16 against Jack Eichel's Sabres.
Even if you wanted to bring up the Blackhawks as an original-six member, the Montreal Canadiens won’t have a nationally televised game this upcoming season. Like Columbus, they’re seeking better years very soon, but it's odd to think any Canadian team wouldn't be featured more prominently on national TV outside of CBC Network.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter. For Columbus to improve their national outlook, they're going to have to win and become a bonafide Stanley Cup contender.