Jarmo Kekalainen's Speaks After Blue Jackets Draft Adam Fantilli No. 3 Overall

By Coby Maeir on June 29, 2023 at 12:19 am
Jarmo Kekalainen speaks to the media after the first round of the 2023 NHL Draft.
Coby Maeir

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — After selecting Adam Fantilli with the No. 3 overall pick in the draft, Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen spoke to the media.

Here's what he had to say:

How pleased are you?

Kekalainen: "I'm very pleased. I think we got a great player as I said all along that I think we're gonna get a great player at No. 3 and we got Adam. And we are very, very pleased. He's exactly what we need, exactly the type of player we're always looking for, a 200-foot player that plays the game the right way, produces but not just what skill with determination and character and, and will and those players are rarely available. So we're very, very pleased to have him."

Do you see him as physically ready to play NHL hockey?

Kekalainen: "Yeah, I do. He's a physically mature guy. He played against NHL players in the World Championships and did very well. [He] started on the fourth line, but his role increased the whole time and was actually a big part of Canada winning the gold at the end. And his role just kept increasing the whole tournament. And like I said he was one of the key players when they won it."

What impressed you the most about Fantilli's character?

Kekalainen: "[He] seems like a very genuine young man and very determined. He seems like a guy who's just very committed to realizing his dream. That's what we always talk about. These guys are great talents, but the battle is just starting now. Now you're gonna have to play against the best players in the world if you get to the NHL next year. And once you establish yourself in the NHL, then there's another hurdle because now you're not a rookie anymore that everybody kind of thinks, "Well let's see if he's ready to play in the NHL." Once you start producing at the NHL level then you're playing against the best players on the other team, the checkers the first-pairing [defensemen], and that's another challenge there but he seems like a guy who's driven to just keep going in his development that's really important. The dedication."

How open are you to the possibility of him going back to school?

Kekalainen: "We're going to talk to him about it, but we feel he's ready and we're going to make sure that he knows that we feel he's ready. I think he's already accomplished so much at the college level, winning the Hobey Baker in his first year and producing almost two points per game, playing in the Men's World Championships, playing the World Juniors, that he's ready for the next challenge. And that's something that we're going to talk about with him but obviously, we're going to take his thoughts into consideration and listen to him very carefully and have to have those conversations. But we feel he's ready."

Did you see his sweater vest?

Kekalainen: "Yeah, it was pretty cool. And I know he's a very considerate young man. That speaks about his character, too that he remembers to thank the people that have helped him along the way and I think it speaks loudly of his character."

Are you expecting calls on the No. 34 pick overnight?

Kekalainen: "Yeah, I'm sure that's something that we're gonna consider, too. And we're going to look at our board again tonight and see if it makes sense for us to maybe move back and get another pick if there's a bigger group of guys that we feel that we can still get if we move back a few spots, but there's a good chance we won't make a pick at No. 34."

If Fantilli makes the team, do you have an abundance of centers you need to move?

Kekalainen: "We'll sort it all out. I think that it's a pretty good problem to have. Obviously, we have to think about the 23-man roster and that's a limitation that we have to know. But, also a lot of times guys get hurt, have a little nicks in training camp, and might miss the first couple of weeks of the regular season. [It would] be good to have a few extra standing in that case, but we'll sort it all out."


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