The first half of the preseason games have been completed and the Blue Jackets currently stand at 3-1-0. The focus will now be on the 33 players that remain on the Blue Jackets roster after the second round of cuts were made to close out the week. On Thursday, 17 players were assigned to the AHL affiliate Springfield Falcons, and 2013 draft pick Kerby Rychel was sent back to the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL. Rychel suited up for the Spitfires later that night for their season opener and scored twice in a 4-3 loss. While we may have seen our last of Rychel in a CBJ jersey for this season, he has a bright future ahead of him with the Jackets.
The first half of preseason was all about giving the younger prospects a chance to gain some NHL experience. While the majority of the players will not wear a CBJ jersey this season, it is the perfect time for fans to get a glimpse of future CBJ players, as well as for the players themselves to get a taste of the NHL. Overall the Jackets have found success so far and the younger prospects have meshed well with the established veterans.
Preseason isn’t just for prospects to show their stuff, the returning veterans also rely on these games to get into hockey shape. So far the Blue Jackets veterans have been impressive. Marian Gaborik is currently tied for second in the league with 4 pts and he scored twice in a close, hard fought game against Carolina. To me it has seemed a majority of last year’s roster has been contributing to the score sheet during the preseason and it shows once again that the “scoring by committee” strategy may once again work for Columbus. Ryan Johansen, Mark Letestu, and R.J. Umberger have all found the net during preseason. Marian Gaborik is likely to lead the Jackets in points this season, but the more players that also contribute to putting points on the board, the better off the Jackets will be.
The next game is scheduled for Saturday against Pittsburgh at the Consol Energy Center. This will begin the next phase in the preseason where the coaching staff will take a close look at the guys who are on the bubble and see who will make the opening day roster. Jack Skille, Boone Jenner, Ryan Murray, and Sean Collins are just some of the players who are fighting for those final roster spots.