Blue Jackets GM spins Columbus’ lack of a ‘first-line center’

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One of the themes of this off-season has been the desperate rush for young, high-end defensemen. Many teams are practically tripping over their own feet to add one.

The Columbus Blue Jackets are different.

In acquiring Seth Jones for Ryan Johansen, a big part of their future is set.

On the other hand, the Blue Jackets lost a key component in Johansen: a true No. 1 center.

The Blue Jackets look like they’re heading into the 2016-17 season with the following pivots: Boone Jenner, Brandon Dubinsky, Alexander Wennberg and William Karlsson. GM Jarmo Kekalainen did his best to put a positive spin on the situation to the Columbus Dispatch.

“People might say that we don’t have a first-line center,” Kekalainen said. “But I think we have real solid, 200-foot centers.”

The spiciest bit came in Kekalainen asking Karlsson “Do you want to be a fourth-line center your whole life?”

(You should totally steal that line to annoy a friend or loved one when things really drag during the dog days of the hockey summer.)

One has to wonder how much heat Kekalainen is feeling right now.

Jones has a promising future, so much so that we may look at the Blue Jackets as the winner of that trade. Even so, the Blue Jackets are an awfully expensive team to lack a No. 1 center, a virtual prerequisite for Cup contention.

How far can you go with a “Grind it out” mentality? The Blue Jackets are about to find out, as that seems to be their identity, thanks in part to the makeup of some of their most prominent centers.