Breaking Down the Opening Night Roster of the Blue Jackets

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The day has finally arrived! The Blue Jackets are set to take the ice tonight for their first regular season game, facing off against the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh. Excitement abounds for the new-look Jackets, who enter the season with a fresh look and hopefully further along in their roster reset. Today we’ll look at how will this team match up once the puck drops.

First Line: LW Johnny Gaudreau, C Boone Jenner, RW Patrik Laine

The Blue Jackets will indeed start the season with a line featuring Gaudreau and Laine, and on paper this should be one of the deadliest scoring tandems in the entire league. When the team begins play with Gaudreau tonight, he will immediately become one of the most skilled players to ever wear a CBJ jersey. His ability to escape pressure and hold onto the puck should be a perfect fit alongside a natural scorer like Laine, and gives the team some serious offensive pop. Captain Boone Jenner takes on the top line role and will be expected to carry the forechecking and defensive responsibilities on this line. I’m really excited to see them live.

Second line: LW Yegor Chinakhov, C Jack Roslovic, RW Jakub Voracek

Another line that should be effective offensively (at least on paper), the second line for the Blue Jackets will look to provide some offensive pop. With veteran playmaker Jakub Voracek driving the play and improving two-way center Jack Roslovic down the middle, the only real surprise here is Chinakhov. But if you followed along in the preseason, it’s not surprising at all to see Yegor here. He led the NHL with six preseason goals and had great chemistry with Voracek. When you factor in his all-around play, he deserves this opportunity and if things work, I can see this being a terrific secondary scoring line. They won’t get the heavy defensive matchups, and should see plenty of good looks.

Yegor Chinakhov #59 of the Columbus Blue Jackets (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Third Line: LW Gustav Nyquist, C Cole Sillinger, RW Justin Danforth

If you were to ask me why I think the Blue Jackets will be improved this season, I would likely point directly to this line. If the team can stay healthy, this could be a very effective shutdown line – that can also chip in plenty of offense. This is a perfect third line on paper, with a veteran scorer (Nyquist), a talented young two-way center (Sillinger), and an energetic spark plug (Danforth). All three of these guys can score, but all of them are responsible defensively and you have a faceoff option on either side of the ice. It will be a lot to ask of 19 year old Sillinger, but I think this trio can match up against some of the best in the league, and just make it difficult to play against them. We’ll see if it works.

Fourth Line: LW Eric Robinson, C Sean Kuraly, RW Mathieu Olivier

Mathieu Olivier brings the physicality and a true enforcer to the Blue Jackets, something they haven’t had for years. But while his skating leaves something to be desired, he isn’t just fists; he can play in a checking role and adds a new element to the Robinson/Kuraly tandem that was so good last year. This line probably won’t light up the lamp a ton this season, but they bring energy,  speed, and plenty of physicality. They’ll be the new “identity line” for the Blue Jackets, that takes the defensive zone starts, physical matchups, and tries to generate a forecheck in the offensive zone.

WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 08: Eric Robinson #50 of the Columbus Blue Jackets handles the puck against the Washington Capitals during a preseason game at Capital One Arena on October 08, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)

Extras: Kent Johnson, Liam Foudy

I would expect, with this coaching staff, we’ll see both of these guys cycled into the lineup on a pretty consistent basis. We’ve watched Johnson all summer long and everyone is excited to see what he can bring offensively. Foudy sticks around in part because his contract doesn’t allow him to be sent down without clearing waivers, but the former first round pick is talented. He could slot into one of the bottom six spots here and I don’t think the team would miss a beat, with his speed and size.

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