Six Top Prospects Who Might Make the Columbus Blue Jackets

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - JUNE 28: Adam Fantilli is selected by the Columbus Blue Jackets with the third overall pick during round one of the 2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft at Bridgestone Arena on June 28, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - JUNE 28: Adam Fantilli is selected by the Columbus Blue Jackets with the third overall pick during round one of the 2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft at Bridgestone Arena on June 28, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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Training camp starts this morning for teams around the NHL. The Blue Jackets will have off-ice testing and physicals today, with on-ice drills kicking off tomorrow.

With 73 players attending training camp this month, there is a lot to work through for the club as they work to build a 23 man roster before the season opener on October 12th. Obviously, we know what a good majority of the roster will look like based on who was here last year, their roles, and their contracts. We also know that a lot of the players invited are going back to their junior teams, or the American Hockey League. We also know that some of the free agent invitees are probably not going to earn contracts.

But, there are a few jobs up for grabs in Columbus this year, and there are some seriously good prospects that will be competing for these jobs. A couple of them will be in serious contention for a job to start the season. A couple more are on the roster fringe. While yet two more are probably on the outside looking in, at least for one more season.

RIGA, LATVIA – MAY 27: Adam Fantilli of Canada in action during the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Finland – Latvia game between Canada and Latvia at Nokia Arena on May 27, 2023 in Tampere, Finland. (Photo by Andrea Branca/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)
RIGA, LATVIA – MAY 27: Adam Fantilli of Canada in action during the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Finland – Latvia game between Canada and Latvia at Nokia Arena on May 27, 2023 in Tampere, Finland. (Photo by Andrea Branca/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images) /

We’ll start up front, where I have three guys penciled in with varying odds of playing in the NHL this season. Obviously, this list has to start with the third overall pick from the 2023 NHL Draft: center Adam Fantilli. Not only do I think he’ll make the roster, I think he has a shot to play in the team’s top six right away. In fact, now that you-know-who isn’t going to be the head coach this season, there’s more than zero percent chance that he plays on the top line, right away.

Even if the top line doesn’t happen right away, I think he’ll be there soon enough. His size, skating, skill, and more importantly his competitive spirit; are going to push him up the depth chart in a hurry. I’ll stand pat by my prediction that he’ll be in that 30-goal, 60-point range as an NHL rookie; and I do think he can contend for the Calder Trophy this season. Chance Fantilli is on the team: 100%.

Dmitri Voronkov is in North America! Finally. The team picked him in the fourth round all the way back in 2019, and we have all been patiently watching him develop overseas, playing in Russia’s KHL. He’s listed at 6’4″ and 190 pounds, but honestly, I think those estimates are going to go way up after the team hosts physicals today. He’s absolutely huge, even dwarfing 6’2″ Adam Fantilli by what looked to be more than two inches.

A week ago, I might have set his odds of making the team fairly high. But after watching him in Traverse City, I have some reservations. Much like Kirill Marchenko a year ago, I think Dmitri has some adjustments to make to adapt to the North American game. He seemed a little bit behind the pace of the other players in the tournament. But, he does also have an inside edge because of his size and the role he could play in Columbus. He’s obviously big, plays a nasty style of hockey, and has a strong scoring touch around the net.

SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA – 2023/02/03: Ak Bars Hockey Club player, Dmitry Voronkov (No.10) seen in action during the Kontinental Hockey League, regular season KHL 2022 – 2023 between SKA Saint Petersburg and Ak Bars Kazan at the Ice Sports Palace.(Final score; SKA Saint Petersburg 7:4 Ak Bars Kazan). (Photo by Maksim Konstantinov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA – 2023/02/03: Ak Bars Hockey Club player, Dmitry Voronkov (No.10) seen in action during the Kontinental Hockey League, regular season KHL 2022 – 2023 between SKA Saint Petersburg and Ak Bars Kazan at the Ice Sports Palace.(Final score; SKA Saint Petersburg 7:4 Ak Bars Kazan). (Photo by Maksim Konstantinov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) /

He could make the roster on opening night, even if he isn’t in the lineup for the first game. He could be anywhere from the #9-#14 forward right out of camp. Or, the club might opt to send him to Cleveland to get some reps in, as they did with Marchenko last season. I could see it going either way. Chance Voronkov is on the team: 50%.