The Columbus Blue Jackets had a choice on whether to give the Vancouver Canucks a second-round pick in this year’s draft or next for compensation after hiring John Tortorella while he was still under contract, and they’ve decided on the former. The team will send the 55th-overall selection to the Canucks this season.
Tortorella of course was fired in 2014 after a particularly explosive season with the Canucks, only to be hired by the Blue Jackets to replace Todd Richards after a brutal start to the 2015-16 season. He saw improvement that season and then led the Blue Jackets to an impressive 50-24-8 record this year and a playoff berth for the first time in several seasons. He is even up for the Jack Adams award for Coach of the Year, an award he won in 2004 with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Though the compensation rules no longer exist, since the hiring was done before the change the Blue Jackets still owed a selection. The pick will be Vancouver’s third in the first two rounds, to go along with #5 and #33.
It’s a hefty price to pay for a coach, but one the Blue Jackets will gladly pay after the season they had. Tortorella led the team to an impressive 32-point improvement over 2015-16 and seems to still have the ear of his players (something that he’s had trouble with in the past). The Canucks will happily take the pick as they start their rebuild, especially since #55 has turned into some good players in the past. Dmitry Orlov, Adam McQuaid, Marco Scandella, Jason Pominville and Antoine Vermette were all selected 55th overall, and the Canucks have a good chance at finding a real prospect.
Matthew Sekeres of TSN was first to break the news on Twitter.