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3 1st Round Picks: Blue Jackets Primed For a Bright Future


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http://www.nhl.com/i...2595&print=true

TORONTO -- The level of talent in the early stages of the 2013 NHL Draft has the potential to be as good as it's ever been, according to Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen.

So you can bet your bottom dollar that possessing three picks in the first round is something Kekalainen is thrilled about. The team is locked in at No. 14 and No. 19, with the third choice undetermined for now.

"It seems like it's a good draft, but I always am kind of cautious about getting too excited about the good drafts or too pessimistic when people say it's a down year because someone will always surprise you in a good way or, unfortunately, in a bad way," Kekalainen told NHL.com at the NHL Scouting Combine. "Either way, we're excited for our franchise with three first-round picks."

Kekalainen, who was named the first European general manager in NHL history on Feb. 13, was GM of Jokerit in Finland's top league prior to getting his opportunity in Columbus. He's not only privy to the top North Americans on the board, but also those playing overseas -- in particular, NHL Central Scouting's No. 1-ranked European prospect, Aleksander Barkov of Tappara in Finland.

"Barkov was one of the leading scorers in the Finnish league and I don't think I've ever seen a guy at that age (17) score that many points or be the No. 1 center for a team that went all the way to the final," Kekalainen said.

Barkov is here at the Combine and will undergo his medical examination Friday but forego any physical fitness testing because he had offseason shoulder surgery. He told NHL.com he will resume skating next week.

...Kekalainen is hesitant to admit there's a consensus No. 1 pick.

"Sometimes there's a clear-cut No. 1 but then that player doesn't turn out to be the No. 1 player of that draft," Kekalainen said. "Our scouts evaluate and put them in an order. At the end of the year, they'll have their minds made up and we'll get together for meetings after the Combine to finalize our list."

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Depends on how the picks pan out. They could get a couple of studs, or a couple of busts, maybe only depth players. Columbus does have a better mixture of players than Edmonton though; great mix of age, skill, and grit.

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Columbus has been around since 2000.

In the franchises entire history only 1 draft pick has been an all star (#1 overall Rick Nash). They have had 11 first round picks and 10 of them have been 8 and higher.

They are one of the worst talent development organizations in the NHL. Prob the worst.

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Columbus has been around since 2000.

In the franchises entire history only 1 draft pick has been an all star (#1 overall Rick Nash). They have had 11 first round picks and 10 of them have been 8 and higher.

They are one of the worst talent development organizations in the NHL. Prob the worst.

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Columbus has been around since 2000.

In the franchises entire history only 1 draft pick has been an all star (#1 overall Rick Nash). They have had 11 first round picks and 10 of them have been 8 and higher.

They are one of the worst talent development organizations in the NHL. Prob the worst.

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