The Columbus Blue Jackets need all the help they can get offensively, which makes Cayden Lindstrom a perfect fit for them at No. 4 overall in the NHL Draft. There are rumors that the Blue Jackets are targeting a defenseman with that pick, but it feels like a forward would be their best move. The Blue Jackets went heavy on defense in 2022 and 2021 at the NHL Draft but added a big piece at center with Adam Fantilli in 2023. The Blue Jackets can add to their strength down the middle by selecting the massive center at No. 4 this year.

It was a tumultuous year for Lindstrom, as he had a disc herniation in his back for most of the season. Lindstrom had 46 points in 32 games when he did play with the Medicine Hat Tigers in the WHL. It was an improvement over his rookie season in the WHL, as he had just 42 points in 61 games. Lindstrom projects that he will return to 100% by July, meaning the fans could see him at full strength at rookie development camp.

Scouts describe Lindstrom as a physical freak. He is currently 6-foot-5 and 205 pounds but moves like a small, skilled player. Lindstrom's speed is where that comparison stops, though, as he is a power forward who isn't afraid to be physical and get his nose dirty around the net.

One-two punch down the middle

cayden lindstrom nhl draft

The Blue Jackets drafted Adam Fantilli with the No. 3 overall pick last season. The American dominated college hockey in his freshman season, winning the Hobey Baker Award as the nation's best player. He was the third freshman to win the award, after Paul Kariya and Jack Eichel. Fantilli could've returned to the University of Michigan but signed a three-year entry-level deal to forego the rest of his college career.

Fantilli had a slow start to his NHL career but finished strong by recording 12 goals and 15 assists in 49 games. Fantilli's season ended on January 28th when a skate blade cut his calf, an injury that kept him out for the rest of the season. Regardless, he will be 100% healthy by the start of training camp, much like Lindstrom.

Lindstrom may not make the Blue Jackets in his first season like Fantilli. Lindstrom missed a season of development in the WHL with his back injury, so whichever team drafts him may prefer for him to play another year of junior. The Blue Jackets have a different mindset now with a new general manager in Don Waddell.

The Blue Jackets have time to wait for Lindstrom, as they are still a couple of seasons away from being at full strength. If the Blue Jackets draft Lindstrom, they won't have to worry about a crucial skater position for the next decade. Fantilli and Lindstrom could form a one-two punch down the middle for several years while having Gavin Brindley and Cole Sillinger supplement the center position. The Blue Jackets could have four centers that haven't turned 22 yet.

Lindstrom is more valuable than a defenseman

The talks are that the Blue Jackets will target a defenseman with the fourth overall pick. However, they have a lot of young defense talent in their pipeline. The Blue Jackets have a lot of talent everywhere, but it's harder to find elite depth up front. The Blue Jackets have Zachary Werenski and Damon Severson as veteran leaders on the backend. Adam Boqvist is a young defenseman who looked this season, and they are in talks to re-sign Jake Bean.

The Blue Jackets also have David Jiricek, Denton Mateychuk, Stanislav Svozil, and Corson Ceulemans in the pipeline. They have no shortage of depth there, so it wouldn't be a disaster if they didn't add another defenseman at No. 4 overall. Columbus would be better off adding the best player available at fourth overall, and it feels like Lindstrom could have the highest ceiling among the players in that range.

Patrik Laine rumors

A report came out last week that Patrik Laine may be pursuing another fresh start after being put in the player assistance program in 2023-24. The Blue Jackets must consider that they may be losing an elite scoring forward if they honor the trade request. Their alleged need for defense isn't as evident if they need to replace Patrik Laine. The Blue Jackets could also add a defenseman in the trade for Laine.

The Blue Jackets drafting Lindstrom and then acquiring a defenseman for Laine would be a savvy first move for Waddell and would set up the Blue Jackets better for the future.

Would you be happy with the Columbus Blue Jackets selecting Cayden Lindstrom as No. 4 overall in the NHL Draft?