After a year that saw the Columbus Blue Jackets come 27th in the NHL with only 76 points, trade away one of their best young players (albeit for another excellent youngster), and shock the hockey world by picking Pierre-Luc Dubois at third overall instead of the consensus pick, Jesse Puljujarvi, the three highest ranking members of the front office have signed two-year extensions. President of Hockey Ops John Davidson along with GM Jarmo Kekalainen and AGM Bill Zito are now all under contract through the 2018-19 season, according to a report from the Columbus Dispatch.
Davidson, the former player and broadcaster, was brought over from St. Louis in 2012 (where he had held the same title) to run the hockey operations in Columbus. Under Davidson, the club has missed the playoffs in three of four seasons, while being knocked out in the first round during their lone appearance. While immensely respected in the hockey world, he had similar trouble in St. Louis, with that franchise experiencing arguably its worst era in team history.
Kekalainen was brought in by Davidson in 2013, after previously working with him in St. Louis. Thought of as an excellent scout and draft analyst, Kekalainen was part of the team that selected Alex Pietrangelo, T.J. Oshie, David Perron and David Backes among others. His biggest criticism now is that he passed on Puljujarvi, though his track record may suggest he knows something many do not. In 2008, many had Kelowna defenseman Luke Schenn or Russian forward Nikita Filatov ranked higher than Pietrangelo, but the scouting team made the right decision in the end, and picked their future captain.