An 8-1 loss is never a good thing, even in preseason play. The Blue Jackets sent a roster of bubble players to Raleigh and it showed, as the Canes walked all over a team that really had no business being put together. But in the end, it was just preseason play – the management and coaching staff likely learned exactly what they were hoping to learn about a lot of the players dressed last night.
It would be easy to come back from that game and say to oneself “okay, let’s demote these 20 guys because none of them are ready to make the cut”. Really, could you blame them? The team was generally awful last night, but even in an 8-1 loss you can’t just cut and paste everyone into the same category. You have to sort players into three groups; players who will be on the team, players who need another look … and guys you can cut immediately.
There were some standouts in a positive way last night, most notably Yegor Chinakhov. At this point, he’s becoming a lock to make the opening night roster in my eyes. His four goals in the preseason are tied for the lead in the entire NHL, but it’s his all-around game that has been eye opening. He looks ready for a look in the team’s top-9, at least for a few games.
In the group of players who will almost certainly be on the team: Nick Blankenburg, Erik Gudbranson, Adam Boqvist, Jake Bean, Eric Robinson and Cole Sillinger. Robinson is a fourth liner who doesn’t move the needle much, but he’s an important depth player for the team who fills in on the PK. Cole gets a slight pass here because it was his first action of the preseason. He had some good looks last night and with some game reps, should be fine. But, I thought the defense as a whole was terrible last night, and the score reflects that fact.
Justin Danforth is going to be on the team because he’s had a strong camp and a pretty solid preseason. We had Kirill Marchenko penciled into the opening night roster, and he’ll probably still be there. They didn’t bring him over from Russia to play in the AHL, my guess is they want to see him develop in the NHL this season. But aside from these 9 players, I think it’s fair to say the rest are going to be starting their seasons elsewhere.
It will be interesting to see how this team looks when they travel to Raleigh again in 8 days. I have a feeling the outcome won’t be as bad, but it’s a tough start to the season for the Jackets – the Canes look really good.
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