On Sunday the Blue Jackets announced three more reassignments, reassigning goaltender Jet Greaves to the Cleveland Monsters (AHL), releasing defenseman Ben Harpur from his PTO; and placing forward Emil Bemstrom on waivers for the purpose of reassignment to Cleveland. These moves leave the team with 26 players ahead of their season opener on Wednesday night – though they’ll have to trim down three more before the end of today.
The roster looks pretty clear at this point, with the three remaining moves likely being goaltender Joonas Korpisalo to IR, forward Joona Luoto to the AHL’s Monsters, and the inevitable reassignment of defenseman David Jiricek (possibly to Cleveland). It’s hard to pin down the opening night lines, but the depth chart should look something like this:
LW: Johnny Gaudreau, Gustav Nyquist, Kent Johnson, Eric Robinson, Liam Foudy
C: Boone Jenner, Jack Roslovic, Cole Sillinger, Sean Kuraly
RW: Patrik Laine, Jakub Voracek, Yegor Chinakhov, Justin Danforth, Mathieu Olivier
D: Zach Werenski, Adam Boqvist, Vladislav Gavrikov, Andrew Peeke, Jake Bean, Erik Gudbranson, Nick Blankenburg
G: Elvis Merzlikins, Daniil Tarasov
Our prediction of the opening lineup included Kirill Marchenko and Emil Bemstrom instead of Liam Foudy and Yegor Chinakhov, but otherwise there aren’t any real surprises to this list. Chinakhov played his way onto the team with a terrific camp and preseason, and may even start the season in a top-six role.
Foudy’s inclusion is probably the most surprising, but his contract situation and status as a former first round pick, means the team is likely scared of losing him if they were to try to demote him. So, he’ll begin the season on the team, likely in a depth role that would have otherwise been filled by Bemstrom, or even Carson Meyer. Meyer had an excellent camp and preseason, but was simply caught up in the numbers game here.
With so much depth, especially on the wings, it’s easy to see why the team had to demote Meyer and risk losing Bemstrom for nothing via waivers. Bemstrom is a talented guy whose two-way play should merit another look at some point in the near future, especially if he can develop his long-lost scoring touch.
One thing that’s for sure: playing time in Cleveland will become a dog fight of players trying to win early call-ups to the NHL. For a young team leaning on development of their prospects, that’s a good problem to have.
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