When the Columbus Blue Jackets acquired Seth Jones from Nashville, they got a young defenseman they badly needed.
There was just one, big catch — they had to give up 23-year-old Ryan Johansen.
So while the trade left the Jackets considerably better on the blue line, it also left them without a future number-one center. And everyone knows that teams that don’t have a legitimate number-one center don’t win Stanley Cups. It’s why the Predators made the deal, for that exact reason.
Not to suggest the Jackets made a mistake in getting Jones. Teams without a number-one defenseman don’t win too many Cups either. And at the time of the trade, Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen knew he was going to get a good draft pick this summer.
“We’ll look at our depth chart a little differently today and moving forward,” he said. “We’ll be looking at all our options.”
Fast forward to the present and there’s speculation one of those “options” could be trading the third overall pick — the pick they won in the lottery — and taking a center a few spots later.
That would be rather significant, of course, since the third overall pick is expected to be Finnish phenom Jesse Puljujarvi, one of the so-called Big Three along with Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine.
But Puljujarvi is a winger, and there are some promising centers available in the 2016 draft, like Logan Brown and Clayton Keller.
“I’ve told everyone who has inquired, you’d better blow my socks off before we get to any kind of discussion about it,” Kekalainen told ESPN Insider recently. “I’ve said this a million times, Wayne Gretzky got traded, so anything is possible. I don’t see it as likely.”
So yeah, it’s not “likely.” Puljujarvi has so much talent it would be hard to trade the pick, no matter what the return.
Just don’t be shocked if it happens, because it wouldn’t be coming out of nowhere.