Tonight the Los Angeles Kings matchup against the Columbus Blue Jackets at home in Crypto.com Arena st 7:30 PM PST, or 10:30 PM EST. As of now, the Kings sit at second place in the Pacific Division and third place in the entire Western Conference, and are in a prime position to make it to the post-season. On the other hand, the Blue Jackets sit at dead last in the Metropolitan Division and dead last in the entire Eastern Conference, which puts them in prime position to land a high draft pick in this year’s 2023 NHL Entry Draft.
On the day of the NHL Trade Deadline, TSN held a live mock draft lottery on air and the results of it landed the Columbus Blue Jackets the No. 1 overall pick.
If that were to happen in real life, Blue Jackets fans would be through the roof because the draft lottery has been dubbed with a special nickname this year, “The Bedard Sweepstakes.”
Connor Bedard is a right-handed center currently playing for the Regina Pats of the Ontario Hockey League, and he is the kind of player that could change the course of a franchise overnight. Rink Royalty discusses how Blue Jackets fans are viewing him and more with Curtis Deem of Union and Blue, FanSided’s website dedicated to all things Columbus Blue Jackets related, ahead of tonight’s matchup between the same two teams who swapped goalies earlier this month.
Question No. 1: Columbus is struggling greatly this year. Are the Blue Jackets in full rebuild mode?
"A: “The Blue Jackets entered into their rebuild two summers ago, when they traded Seth Jones to the Chicago Blackhawks. Up to that point, I think the plan was to build a team around Jones, Zach Werenski, and Patrik Laine and continue to try to fight for playoff spots. Losing a core player like that caused the team to take a step back, though GM Jarmo Kekalainen has been hesistant to call this a rebuild. This team’s window is probably still 2-3 years away, but we expect them to be a lot better next season. They were probably eyeing a run at a bubble spot this year, but injuries have killed any chance of competing and thrust them further into the rebuild.”"
Specifically, injuries to key players like Zach Werenski on November 19, 2022 as well as Jake Bean being placed on injury reserve just two days prior really set the Blue Jackets further back than they already were this season. Throughout the season, the Blue Jackets have also seen injuries to Boone Jenner and Joonas Korpisalo when he was still on the roster. But, both of those guys are now healthy and back on the ice. And as Deem said, a flurry of injuries has set them back this season.