The Columbus Blue Jackets have moved to bolster their prospect pool, signing college free agent center Hunter McKown to a three-year, entry-level contract, per the team. Financial terms are undisclosed.
McKown will report directly to the Blue Jackets later this week, the team said. The news comes after reports this morning suggested the Chicago Blackhawks had an interest in acquiring McKown’s services.
General manager Jarmo Kekalainen had the following statement on McKown’s signing:
We are very excited to welcome Hunter to the Blue Jackets family. He is a big, skilled center who is a powerful skater and possesses an elite shot, and we believe he has a chance to be a very productive player as he continues to develop. He was a highly sought after college free agent and we are thrilled to have him join our club and embark on his professional career with the Blue Jackets.
McKown, 20, was a breakout player for Colorado College the last two seasons, scoring 21 goals and seven assists in 38 games during his junior year. He also led the entire NCAA in power-play goals with 14.
Given his defensive prowess and good size, McKown projects as a capable bottom-six center who could potentially slot into a role similar to the injured Sean Kuraly as the season winds down. His booming shot made him an appealing signing for many teams, and McKown will join a young, rising team in Columbus, where he could get plenty of opportunity next season with the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters.
Born in San Jose, California, McKown was passed over in the 2020 NHL Draft. Across his three-year career at Colorado College, McKown totaled 36 goals and 19 assists in 96 games.