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Blue Jackets on No. 3 Pick: ‘We will get a center’



Credit: IIHF

John Davidson has made it clear how the Columbus Blue Jackets are rolling with No. 3 in the 2023 Draft.

“We will get a center. I’ll tell you right now. We will get a center,” the club’s President of Hockey Operations told local radio host Beau Bishop today. “Which center it’s going to be is still to be determined.”

This is very meaningful, of course, for the San Jose Sharks, selecting No. 4.

If we’re to take Davidson’s declaration at face value, that means the Blue Jackets are not considering polarizing winger Matvei Michkov at No. 3, and probably honing in on possible pivots Leo Carlsson and Will Smith. They’re also likely hoping that presumed No. 2 pick Adam Fantilli will drop to them.

For what it’s worth, Carlsson and Smith are not clear-cut centers in the NHL at the moment.

Carlsson is listed as such and seen by many as a future centerman because of his 6-foot-3 frame and hockey IQ, but he played wing all of this year in the SHL. Meanwhile, Smith was up the middle all season for the USNTDP and Team USA, but there are those in the NHL who question whether his 6-foot-0 frame and playing style equates to a pivot at the highest level.

There are no such concerns about Fantilli as a future impact NHL center, while Michkov is thought to be a winger through and through.

Michkov, Carlsson, or Smith? My First Thoughts

Dalibor Dvorsky and Nate Danielson are other intriguing center options in the top half of the Draft, though either would be seen as a stretch at No. 3.

For the San Jose Sharks then, if the Draft falls as expected with Connor Bedard going to the Chicago Blackhawks first-overall, Fantilli to the Anaheim Ducks at No. 2, then Columbus going center, that means Michkov and likely one of Carlsson and Smith will be available to San Jose at No. 4.

Of course, Davidson could be trying to author one of the greatest bluffs in Draft history. But he didn’t break character throughout this interview.

“Everybody knows, since Pierre-Luc Dubois moved on, center ice is a big, big, big need for us,” Davidson doubled down. “That’s gotta be taken care of in this Draft. It just has to and it will be.”

Emerging star center Dubois requested a trade from the Blue Jackets in 2020-21, and was dealt to the Winnipeg Jets.

Anyway, from here to the Draft on Jun. 28, it’s going to be interesting family gatherings at the Davidson household: San Jose Sharks director of amateur scouting Chris Morehouse is married to Davidson’s daughter Ashley.

Morehouse on What He Looks for in Players, Draft Picks He’s Pushed For (+)

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