Let's make a deal: Could the Blue Jackets trade up to first overall?

How Columbus could end up with Connor Bedard.

Losing the draft lottery is not a new experience for Columbus Blue Jackets fans. In fact, many were expecting to slide all the way back fourth overall, including myself, and "only" moving back to pick #3 was a pleasant surprise.

However, trading up from first overall is also not new to Blue Jackets fans. 21 years ago, Columbus moved up from third to first to select Rick Nash, a game-breaking winger who'd define the franchise for a decade. Now, Connor Bedard, the best prospect since Connor McDavid in 2015, is up for grabs, and barring a miracle, will be selected first overall by the Chicago Blackhawks.

So, let's make a miracle. What could a potential package for the first overall pick look like? And is it even worth it?

I reached out to sister site Second City Hockey's Eric Gegenheimer to try to nail out a deal. Below is a transcript of our negotiation, edited for clarity and brevity.

The Cannon - Let's start by establishing what Chicago would want from this deal. What positions does Chicago's roster/prospect pool need most?

Second City Hockey - The Blackhawks' prospect pool really only has one high end, blue chip prospect, defenseman Kevin Korchinski (7th overall in 2022), and then a ton of 2nd/3rd pairing D prospects. There's a bunch of wingers who haven't really established what kind of players they might be (led by Lukas Reichel and Frank Nazar). They're super thin at center, so that's what they would want, and that's a big reason why they did everything in their power to try and wind up with one of the really good center prospects in this years draft.

Who do you consider to be the Jackets' best prospects?

TC - On D, David Jiricek, but I know many CBJ fans would be super hesitant to give him up. He was easily the best rookie defenseman in the AHL last year. Stanislav Svozil would also be up there, but he played with Bedard this year and I know they're good friends, so including him in the trade would be kinda ironic. Denton Mateychuk, Samuel Knazko, and Corson Ceulemans should also grow into good 2nd-pair prospects.

On F, Kent Johnson and Kirill Marchenko deserved to be in the conversation among the best rookies of this year, and were arguably Calder Trophy snubs. Cole Sillinger had a great rookie year last year, but fell off this year. Jordan Dumais challenged Bedard for the CHL scoring title in his post-draft year. Dmitri Voronkov, Yegor Chinakhov, and Luca Del Bel Belluz should also be contributors.

Goalie... we don't really have anyone. Daniil Tarasov was our best bet, but a big disappointment this year. If the Hawks have a top tier goalie prospect, he'd need to be included with the first overall to get multiple of Jircek/Johnson/Marchenko.

We also have the 22nd pick in the draft this year. And Patrik Laine could probably be included instead of Johnson/Marchenko without much complaint from the fan base. Ideally, the trade would look something like:

Chicago receives: 3rd overall 2023, 22nd overall 2023/2024 1st round pick, Samuel Knazko, Cole Sillinger/Yegor Chinakhov
Columbus receives: 1st overall 2023

SCH - Here's where it gets tricky. There really is no precedent for a trade like this. The Eric Lindros trade 31 years ago, with the Nordiques having no leverage, etc. I think the closest thing may be the precedent set by both of these teams within the Seth Jones deal (swapping firsts, 2nd round pick, Blackhawks' best prospect going to Columbus). But, Seth Jones is worth maybe half of what Connor Bedard would be. I think this is what I'd say as a framework:

Chicago receives: 1st round picks in 2023, 2024, and 2025, David Jiricek, Kent Johnson, 2nd round pick in 2023
Columbus receives: 1st overall 2023

I'm sure you think that's insane (it is!), but I really do believe that Bedard is that valuable. You really can't quantify how valuable this kid is (they've sold $5 million in season tickets since the lottery) and he's super cheap for the next few years, too.

TC - I'm actually not that unwilling to do that. I'd want to axe the 2025 1st and swap out Jircek for one (or two) of our other D prospects, but I'm not against most of the rest of that. I'd also be willing to upgrade the 2023 2nd to our 22nd overall pick this year.

Consider also that Leo Carlsson is likely also a legit 1C prospect. This ain't no one. He could easily become a Nicklas Backstom/Anze Kopitar type. Not a bad downgrade for the end of the Towes era.

We also have an extra 2024 3rd round pick from the Los Angeles Kings, part of the return of the Vladislav Gavrikov/Joonas Koripsalo trade.

SCH - Carlsson (or Matvei Michkov or Will Smith) will all be really good players eventually, but I think they would need someone who they could sell right away, and Carlsson is the only one who maybe sees the NHL at all next year. That's why I feel like Jiricek would have to be a part of any deal (as much as I like the idea of a Denton Mateychuk-Jordan Dumais combo). Picks are definitely workable.

TC - Okay, how about this?

Chicago receives: 2x 2023 1st round picks (nos. 3 and 22), 2024 1st and 3rd round picks, Kent Johnson, Denton Mateychuk, Jordan Dumais
Columbus receives: 1st overall 2023

SCH - Picks would work, but Jiricek absolutely has to be included. Could swap out Mateychuk and Dumais for Johnson is that feels too rich. But there would have to be someone to step into the lineup and be awesome right away, so that the team can point to them and go "See! Look at how good they are!" while Connor Bedard is scoring 40 goals as a rookie in Columbus. David Jiricek is the best option on that front.

TC - The issue is, Jiricek is easily worth two firsts to Blue Jackets fans. If he's a must, the max would be something like:

Chicago receives: 3rd overall 2023, 22nd overall 2023/2024 1st round pick, 2024 3rd round pick, David Jiricek, Jordan Dumais
Columbus receives: 1st overall 2023

SCH - This is where I think the deal falls apart. No one would ever want to give up Bedard, so it would have to be a massive overpay to force their hands. Plus I think any GM would counter, "The fans won't care what's coming back if they're getting a Connor McDavid or Sidney Crosby level player in return. That's a once in a decade opportunity, maybe." Least it could be:

Chicago receives: 2x 2023 1st round picks (nos. 3 and 22), 2024 1st and 3rd round picks, David Jiricek, Denton Mateychuk, Jordan Dumais
Columbus receives: 1st overall 2023

TC - If you end up with David Jiricek, that's the only defensive prospect you're getting from us. No Denton Mateychuk. And I'll upgrade the 2024 3rd to a 2025 2nd:

Chicago receives: 2x 2023 1st round picks (nos. 3 and 22), 2024 1st round pick, 2025 2nd round pick, David Jiricek, Jordan Dumais
Columbus receives: 1st overall 2023

From your initial proposal, the only thing that changes is Dumais for Johnson and a 2nd instead of a 1st in 2025.

SCH - I'm gonna hold at Dumais and Mateychuk, or Kent Johnson instead of Dumais. And I just remembered that the Hawks have the 19th overall pick this year as well, so the 22nd overall pick feels kind of redundant. They can grab whoever they really like that's still available at 19. I'd rather have the third 1st round pick be in 2025 instead.

Second City Hockey's final offer:
Chicago receives: 2023, 2024 and 2025 1st round picks, 2024 3rd round pick, David Jiricek, Denton Mateychuk, Jordan Dumais
Columbus receives: 1st overall 2023

TC - Yeah, no. If you insist on all three of Jiricek-Mateychuk-Dumais, we're dropping all other firsts. No way we're giving up three prospects, including our best defensive prospect since Zach Werenski, and all our firsts until Nela Lopusanova is draft-eligible. Maybe y'all can have the 2024 3rd if you really need more picks. And consider that the Hawks could trade up into, say, the 9-13 range with 19th and 22nd picks.

The Cannon's final offer:
Chicago receives: 2x 2023 1st round picks (nos. 3 and 22), 2024 3rd round pick, David Jiricek, Jordan Dumais, Denton Mateychuk
Columbus receives: 1st overall 2023

And that's where we left things. Another thanks to Eric for being willing to negotiate, even if we couldn't come to a final deal. What do you guys think? Would you be willing to part with three 1sts and three prospects to get Connor Bedard? Which, if any, of these offers would you be willing to accept?

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