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Instant analysis: Blue Jackets draft Cayden Lindstrom at No. 4 overall

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Instant analysis: Blue Jackets draft Cayden Lindstrom at No. 4 overall


With the fourth overall pick in the 2024 NHL Draft, the Blue Jackets have selected Medicine Hat (WHL) center Cayden Lindstrom.

Here’s what you should know about the newest CBJ forward in the moments after his draft pick.

The Lindstrom file: A big center with scoring touch that checks off a lot of boxes, Lindstrom is coming off a dominant but injury-shortened campaign with Medicine Hat of the Western Hockey League, one of the top junior leagues in Canada. The 6-3, 213-pounder played in 32 regular-season games this past season for the Tigers and nearly posted a goal per game, notching 27 tallies to go with 19 assists for 46 points. Ranked No. 3 among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting and placing fifth in our consensus poll, Lindstrom had eight two-goal games and 16 multipoint games this year and also has skated for Canada at international tournaments.

Instant analysis: This seemed like the most likely outcome for the Blue Jackets’ top draft pick going into the draft, and so it came to pass. For a franchise that has historically been looking for top-line centers, the future certainly seems bright with Lindstrom set to pair with 2023 third overall pick Adam Fantilli. In a perfect world, the duo will be a one-two punch to lead the way for years to come for Columbus down the middle. There were a lot of talented players on the table, but Lindstrom is a scout’s dream given his size, offensive abilities and penchant for physical play. There is some risk – he missed most of the second half of this past season with injury – but he projects to be a game-changing player down the road.

What do the analysts say? Lindstrom’s ability to play with speed, score in different ways and bring a physical presence to the table has impressed to this point. Hadi Kalakeche of Dobber Prospects notes, “Simply put, Lindstrom is this draft’s marquee power forward,” while The Hockey News’ Tony Ferrari says, “There isn’t another player who brings the physical traits that Lindstrom has in the draft when you incorporate the offensive skill he has as well.” Chris Peters of FloHockey projects Lindstrom as a “top-of-the-lineup winger or solid No. 2 center,” while Ferrari notes he can score with a “filthy” shot or by using his skill at the front of the net in traffic. Ferrari also notes Lindstrom plays with a mean streak both with the puck and without out, noting he goes at defenders “attacking downhill like an NFL running back looking to truck his opponent.”

Get to know him: A member of the Driftpile Cree Nation, Lindstrom hails from tiny Chetwynd, British Columbia, a town of around 2,500 people located in the northeast portion of the province about a 12-hour drive northeast of Vancouver. Also a soccer and baseball player growing up, Lindstrom moved to Vancouver at the age of 14 to pursue his hockey dream, working with the Delta Hockey Academy program to increase his skills. It certainly paid off, as Lindstrom headed to the WHL from there and has made multiple appearances for Team Canada in his age group. He’s quite an athlete, as he ran a 4.38 second 40-meter dash during training this past offseason, and he can juggle.

What’s next? Lindstrom will get the chance to see Columbus – and The 5th Line – when he heads to the Blue Jackets’ annual development camp at the OhioHealth Ice Haus next week. From there, the development path isn’t assured – it’ll be up to the player – but it’s largely thought this year’s draft doesn’t quite have as many players who are NHL ready at the top. Lindstrom will have the chance to impress in camp, but it would also be perfectly fine for him to return to the Western Hockey League, where Blue Jackets prospects Denton Mateychuk and Stanislav Svozil have shined in recent years.



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