During Nasdaq's three-hour shutdown, traders who pulled up a chart of the Nasdaq composite or the Nasdaq-100 index were treated to a spooky flat line. But since futures continued to trade, investors who wanted to hedge their exposure were able to turn the Nasdaq-100 e-mini futures.
Shortly after trading halted Thursday afternoon, the Nasdaq-100 made a quick move lower, from which it recovered over the course of 20 minutes. Jeff Kilburg of KKM Financial says that was a direct response to the technical malfunction.
(Read more: Cramer: We need a disaster plan!)
"When you saw the official statement come out that the Nasdaq freeze was on, traders sold the Nasdaq e-mini down 10 handles. When there's any type of uncertainty, panic sellers do come into the market," said Kilburg, who is a CNBC "Futures Now" contributor. "But it wasn't a market crash, it was a market glitch—and there's a big difference. Once we realized that, the market came right back."
For traders, the shutdown served as one more reminder of the importance of the futures market.
(Read more: Trading automation and Nasdaq's tech glitch)