The Columbus Blue Jackets have three first-round picks in this year's draft at No. 14, No. 19 and No. 27 overall. The last two selections were acquired from the Rick Nash trade with the New York Rangers and Jeff Carter deal with the Los Angeles Kings, respectively.
With a roster that just barely missed the playoffs this season due to a tiebreaker, the Blue Jackets are not far away from contending in the Eastern Conference.
To strengthen its roster, Columbus could trade a first-round pick for an established NHLer, preferably a top-six forward who can improve the power play or a veteran defenseman capable of logging 20-plus minutes against opponents' top scorers.
General manager Jarmo Kekalainen recently spoke about the possibility that his team trades one of its first-round picks, per Rob Mixer of BlueJackets.com:
Kekalainen said has held talks with clubs about acquiring players in tight-cap situations. Would be willing to move a first rounder.
Columbus currently has $15,216,191 of salary cap space for next season, according to Capgeek, so it wouldn't be surprising if the team acquired a star player with a large cap hit in a deal involving one of its first-round picks. The team certainly has the cap flexibility to make this sort of move.
The Blue Jackets already have an impressive amount of top-tier prospects, headlined by last year's No. 2 overall pick Ryan Murray. Capitalizing on its three first-round picks to make a trade for a player who will help the team compete right now would be a wise move for Columbus, a team that is moving into a tough division next year as part of the league's new realignment plan.