The Blue Jackets Are Still in "Pretty Good Shape", According to GM Jarmo Kekalainen

By Jacob Nitzberg on August 28, 2019 at 1:20 pm
Apr 16, 2019; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Oliver Bjorkstrand (left) reacts to the goal scored by center Pierre-Luc Dubois (right) against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first period during game four of the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nationwide Arena.
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

League-wide expectations for the Blue Jackets are pretty low.

However, Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen is still very confident in his squad. He sat down with ESPN's Greg Wyshynski to discuss the trade deadline, the goaltending situation, and his expectations for the upcoming season.

Wyshynski mentioned to Kekalainen that John Davidson, former club president and the current president of the New York Rangers, told him that people writing off the Blue Jackets are shortsighted, and the team can still contend.

"Yeah, I like that. Let's have all the people write us off. That's perfect motivation for our group," said Kekalainen. "We made the playoffs three years in a row. In the last three years, there are four teams with more wins in the regular season than we had."

Despite the free agent exodus this summer, Kekalainen is very content with the players currently with the club.

Our core group -- the guys that wanted to be here, the guys that wanted to win with the Blue Jackets -- they're all here.– GM Jarmo Kekalainen

With a lot of young offensive talent, this season promises to be exciting for the Blue Jackets. 

"We have some young guys that are ready to take that next step -- [Oliver] Bjorkstrand, who scored at a 40-goal pace that last 40 games of the year. And Dubois, who is only 20 years old. Josh Anderson is just scratching the surface. Cam Atkinson will be motivated to show that he scored before Panarin and can score after Panarin," said Kekalainen. 

However, the Blue Jackets' strength may lie in their defensive group, led by Seth Jones and Zach Werenski – two of the best young defensemen in the NHL. 

"There's a lot of those [veterans] in our lineup, and a lot of young guys coming in. It's a great opportunity, and it's going to be a hell of a battle for that ice time. We're in pretty good shape, in our opinion."

There's no question that this season will be riveting to watch as the Blue Jackets try to make it back into the Stanley Cup Playoffs with an interesting mix of proven veterans and young prospects.

We can't wait.