Monday Night’s Game Critical for Some Jackets

Sep 29, 2022; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets forward Yegor Chinakhov (59) controls the puck against the St. Louis Blues during the first period at Enterprise Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 29, 2022; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets forward Yegor Chinakhov (59) controls the puck against the St. Louis Blues during the first period at Enterprise Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Blue Jackets travel to Raleigh today for their sixth game of the preseason, and will face off against the Carolina Hurricanes. While the outcome of the game is completely meaningless, for some of the players that will be in the lineup, this may be their last chance to make an impression as serious roster cuts will begin in the next couple of days.

If you look at tonight’s roster, an argument could be made that every single player outside of Erik Gudbranson and Cole Sillinger, still has to win their roster spot for opening night. In my opinion, battling for the last roster spots up front are forwards Justin Danforth, Eric Robinson, Emil Bemstrom, Yegor Chinakhov, Carson Meyer, and Kirill Marchenko. Notably, Danforth, Robinson, and Chinakhov all seem to have the inside track here – while it’s also hard to write off Marchenko, who has shown flashes of brilliance.

That said, how can you send down Meyer, who has been one of the hardest working forwards all preseason long? It’s still not a clear win, but he is bringing energy and some offensive pop, which has likely moved him well up the depth charts. Of this group, Bemstrom is the easiest odd-man out, but he requires waivers to be sent to the AHL. Will Jarmo really risk losing a guy like this for nothing? These will not be easy decisions for the Blue Jackets, and while it will hurt some feelings with the players and fans alike, it’s a good problem to have.

There are three forwards who are probably on the outside looking in, but will be looking to earn early season call-ups: Brendan Gaunce, Josh Dunne, and Owen Sillinger. A preseason game like this could be their last chance to play in front of the eyes of the CBJ coaching staff before being sent down. Each of these guys are veteran players who will bring some physical bite – that’s their only real chance of playing in the NHL.

Sep 25, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Justin Danforth (17) celebrates his second goal with defenseman Adam Boqvist (27) during the third period against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 25, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Justin Danforth (17) celebrates his second goal with defenseman Adam Boqvist (27) during the third period against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports /

Victor Rask gets what might be his last chance to win a contract out of training camp, hoping to add a veteran center to this team’s bottom-six; while Liam Foudy, once one of the team’s top prospects, gets into his first preseason game this fall. An often forgotten-about entity coming off of a serious injury, look for Foudy to try to re-establish himself within the system. I’m really interested to see what Rask and Foudy look like tonight, in particular.

Defensively, there are four rosters pots for the Blue Jackets that seem pretty well set: Zach Werenski, Vladislav Gavrikov, Andrew Peeke, and Erik Gudbranson. Gudbranson is the only one in the lineup tonight; and he’ll be joined by five players who are scrapping it out for the final roster spots this fall. Assuming the team keeps seven defensemen, that leaves just three places for any of Jake Bean, Jake Christiansen, Adam Boqvist, Nick Blankenburg, and Ole Bjorgvik-Holm to try to win.

COLUMBUS, OH – APRIL 13: Nick Blankenburg #77 (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH – APRIL 13: Nick Blankenburg #77 (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /

This doesn’t even include a player like top prospect David Jiricek, who has been impressive – but he may be better suited playing bigger minutes at a lower level. At the offset of camp, it was easy to pencil in Boqvist and Bean, and that hasn’t changed much – their contracts pretty much dictate that they’ll be somewhere on the roster when the season starts. But, I do feel like Blankenburg continues to impress, and has moved beyond both of them on the depth charts in terms of overall play.

Christiansen seems destined to spend at least the start of the year in the AHL – he just hasn’t stood out enough to make the cut. I do think he can be an early season call-up, and maybe make Jake Bean expendable at some point. Lastly, Bjorgvik-Holm is tough to write into the lineup because of the logjam here, but he’s a big bodied, stay-at-home defender. We don’t have a lot of those in Columbus, so it’s important for him to turn some heads and stay on the radar.

In goal tonight, Jet Greaves and Daniil Tarasov will get the call. This is likely the 1-2 tandem for the Cleveland Monsters this fall. They’re both very talented and we should be paying attention here – there’s a chance this is the future tandem in goal for the Blue Jackets.

I expect the team to start really shaping this roster based on the result of this game. Not so much the scoreboard, but more so on individual performances. The Canes are playing a group of mixed in veterans, prospects, and players competing for spots. We should know a lot more about this year’s version of the Blue Jackets, once the final buzzer sounds.

dark. Next. Making a Push: Yegor Chinakhov