The Future of Motz – Weston Motz

Hockey is one of the less popular of the major sports in America. However, it may not stay
that way for long in Ohio. The local hockey team in Ohio, the Columbus Blue Jackets, have one
of the brightest futures in all of the National Hockey League (NHL). After finishing second to
last in the most recent season concluded in April, the Blue Jackets will have a top pick in the
upcoming annual draft, in which they will be picking from the top hockey prospects in the world.
Similar to the other professional sports leagues like the NBA, the NHL uses a lottery system
to determine the picks in the draft to reduce the effects of intentionally losing to gain good draft
position, also called tanking. Since the Blue Jackets finished in the bottom two this season, they
are guaranteed a top 4 pick in what some analysts are calling the best draft class in modern
history of hockey.
Arguably the best prospect in hockey history will be drafted into the NHL this upcoming
draft. Connor Bedard is a Canadian hockey player who has been talked about since he was in
middle school. He played on Canada’s national junior hockey team and tore up a league full of
players that have already found NHL success at 20 years old. Bedard was the best player, despite
being only 17 years old. He is undoubtedly the top prospect in the draft, and the Blue Jackets
have a 13.5% chance to get him. Although this may not seem very high, any chance to get a
franchise-changing player like Bedard is pretty much as good as it gets.
While getting Connor Bedard in the draft would almost guarantee a bright future for hockey
in Columbus, there are many other players that the Blue Jackets can draft to turn around their
franchise. Players like Adam Fantilli, Leo Carlsson and Matvei Michkov are all excellent players
that should perform well in the NHL.
Adam Fantilli comes out of Michigan University, from which the Blue Jackets already have
two very successful players in Kent Johnson and Zach Werenski. Fantilli won the Hobey Baker

award for the best player in college hockey this past season. Leo Carlsson is another top-tier
prospect coming from the Swedish Hockey League (SHL), the top hockey league in Sweden. He
did extremely well in a league full of men in their prime playing professional hockey. Finally,
Matvei Michkov is another prospect that could make a huge difference for any NHL team. He
comes from the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), the top professional hockey league in
Russia. So the Blue Jackets have a large pool of players to pick from when it comes time to draft
their next superstar.
While a top prospect would grow the Blue Jackets a lot, they already have plenty of
developing players to lock down their future in hockey. David Jiricek, Kent Johnson, Denton
Mateychuk, Kirill Marchenko, Yegor Chinakhov, Corson Ceulemans, Patrik Laine and Jordan
Dumais are just a couple of players under 24 years old that the Blue Jackets have. All of these
players have been extremely successful at all different levels of hockey, with some already
finding success in the NHL.
Along with all of these amazing young players, the Blue Jackets have several players who are
already very successful in the NHL. Johnny Gaudreau is the centerpiece of the franchise that will
be built around during the coming seasons. The 7 time all-star signed a 7 year contract with the
Blue Jackets, running through 2030. In 80 games with the Blue Jackets, Gaudreau netted 21
goals and dished out a stunning 53 assists. Patrik Laine is another highly talented player on the
roster. Drafted second overall in 2016, Laine is only 24 years old but has already had a 44 goal
season, although not with the Blue Jackets. He has had his struggles ever since being traded to
the Blue Jackets two seasons ago, but he has the potential to be one of the best goal-scoring
forwards in the entire league. Lastly, Zach Werenski is a defenseman who has the capability to be
top-tier if he can stay healthy. He has only played 116 games in the past 3 seasons, but has over

70 points during that time. The two-time all-star defenseman will be a staple for the Blue Jackets
for years to come if he can remain on the roster.
With all of these talented players on the team, it is reasonable to wonder why the Blue
Jackets lost as many games as they did over the course of the latest season. Over 550 games were
missed by players due to injury. Considering there are 82 games in a season, there was an
average of over 6 players out due to injury every single game. This includes forementioned star
Zach Werenski, who went down in the first week of the season with a shoulder injury and missed
the remainder of the season due to surgery. He is one of if not the best defender on the team, so
him going down was detrimental to the team’s success. Injuries do happen in sports, but the Blue
Jackets were particularly fragile during this past season. If they can manage to stay healthy
during the next season, the playoffs will likely be in the picture.
Many fans have already started to recognize the huge potential of this franchise. On average,
about 17,000 fans went to Blue Jackets home games, filling out around 85% of Nationwide
Arena’s capacity. Toward the end of the season, some Blue Jackets games had as many as 21,000
fans in the arena, which was over the capacity with the arena being 105% full. This gives the
franchise a lot of room to grow with a foundation of great fans.
Between the extremely high potential in the prospect pool, the locker room full of all-stars
and talent, and the loyal fans who show up to every game, the Blue Jackets have a very bright
hockey future. The NHL draft lottery takes place on May 8, so tune in if you are interested in
seeing if the Blue Jackets have the opportunity to draft one of the best prospects in hockey


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