Training camp is fast approaching for the Columbus Blue Jackets, and while there are plenty of positions on the roster locked down firmly, there are a few up for grabs. This team will again be one of the youngest in the NHL, but this year there is plenty of skill being inserted into the lineup. Fans are excited to see a refreshed, more skilled version of the CBJ this year, and this team should be fun to watch. Here’s how the team might look on opening night; you can follow the links to find our season previews for each player we wrote up:
This one is pretty obvious really. Gaudreau is one of the elite playmaking wingers in the entire NHL, and will play in every key offensive situation for this team. The moment he puts on a Blue Jackets sweater, he will immediately become one of the most talented players to ever play for this team. I have a hard time not seeing Patrik Laine on his opposite wing, at least until they prove they don’t fit together. As we know, Laine is one of the game’s premier snipers. If they click, this could be one of the most lethal scoring duos in the game.
The #1 center job is Boone Jenner’s to lose, at least for the start of the season. With high flying wingers like Laine and Gaudreau, the team needs a two-way presence to keep this line honest, and there is nobody better than Jenner at this point. The only concern I have here is, can Boone keep up with them offensively? He did a great job last season, but is probably best suited in more of a depth role long-term.
The Jackets are fortunate enough to have another high end playmaker in Jakub Voracek. I think, in a second line role, he could be a dynamic player this season as he likely sees more ice while teams focus in on defending Gaudreau. Roslovic finished last season on an absolute bender, with 10 goals in the final 10 games. His finishing ability and improving two-way play makes him an obvious fit to center a line with Voracek.
Kent Johnson slots right in as the team’s second line LW to start the season. I feel like he’s capable of driving offense from this position; a veteran presence from Voracek and a natural shooter like Roslovic should help bring the most out of Johnson as he looks to contend for a Calder Trophy this season. He’s impressed at every level of competition thus far, and most recently was fantastic at the Traverse City tournament. Playing him in a middle six role ensures that opposing teams will have a matchup nightmare, should they overload defensively against the team’s top line. See: Blue Jackets training camp schedule and roster.