CBJ to Take on Sabres at Nationwide

Preseason game #3 is tonight in Columbus, as the Blue Jackets will take on the visiting Buffalo Sabres. There will be plenty of storylines to watch as training camp and the preseason continues, and tonight is no exception. With several players in the lineup this evening who are jockeying for a spot on the opening night roster – and a handful who may be earning their final look with the big club before demotion – this is an important game for many of the players involved.

Roughly half of the lineup tonight will feature players who should be on the opening night roster (Sean Kuraly, Eric Robinson, Kirill Marchenko, Kent Johnson, Jakub Voracek, Jack Roslovic, Andrew Peeke, Vladislav Gavrikov, and Erik Gudbranson). These guys are getting game action to prepare for the regular season, and should obviously stand out when they’re on the ice.

There are a handful of prospects who aren’t likely to make the team, but will be looking to make their mark before being reassigned (Mikael Pyythia, Denton Mateychuk, David Jiricek, Stanislav Svozil, and both goalies – Daniil Tarasov, Jet Greaves). Several of the players in this group may be seeing their final preseason action, as it’s important to get them back to their home clubs to play a full season of hockey.

Sep 25, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; The Columbus Blue Jackets Nick Blankenburg (77) scores against then Pittsburgh Penguins during the second period at PPG Paints Arena. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

While the argument can be made for a player like Jiricek to be on the opening night roster, I think that’s a stretch, barring injuries. There are 5 guys who are surely going to be on the team: Peeke, Gavrikov and Gudbranson; as well as Zach Werenski and Adam Boqvist. With the contract he’s signed to, you have to have Jake Bean at least on the 23-man roster to start the season – though he may be the team’s seventh defenseman, as Nick Blankenburg has been eye opening all throughout camp. With Blankenburg’s continued emergence, the path for Jiricek to play in the NHL is a lot more tricky than it was, say, two weeks ago.

Finally, we have a group of players who could be playing a very important game. These guys are on the roster bubble and could make a case tonight to stay at camp longer – or get sent down to the AHL to start the season: Justin Richards, Joona Luoto, Emil Bemstrom, Trey Fix-Wolansky, and Carson Meyer. These guys should be doing something to stand out ahead of the pack, or they’re at risk of being demoted soon, rather than later.

Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

As is customary in the preseason, Buffalo is sending a pretty green roster to Columbus tonight, without many of their lineup regulars. The Blue Jackets should handle this group pretty easily, and put on a good show for the home crowd.

If you can’t make it to Nationwide for the game, you can catch all the action via the team’s website, streaming via the NHL app, or listening in via 97.1 The Fan. Puck drops at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.