The Blue Jackets took a 5-3 victory over the Buffalo Sabres last night, playing a strong game in front of the home crowd with what looked like a mostly NHL lineup. Tonight, they will host the Capitals with a lineup of mostly non-NHL players. Could these lineups clue us in on the eventual opening night roster?
New head coach Pascal Vincent mentioned earlier in training camp that he wanted to have two “dress rehearsal” games in the preseason. With just two games left, we have to read further into his comments because, well, there’s zero doubt in my mind that tonight’s roster is NOT one suiting up for a dress rehearsal. In fact, it barely meets the league’s requirements for having 8 NHL players with at least 30 games of experience. Take a look for yourself:
Which leads me to believe that, aside from some minor tweaking, last night’s lineup should give us some clues as to what the roster might look like on opening night. If that’s the case, there are some really notable players omitted from the team coming out of camp. Right off the bat, the ones that stand out most are Jack Roslovic, Liam Foudy, Dmitri Voronkov, Mathieu Olivier, Adam Boqvist, and Nick Blankenburg.
Three of these players can be kept as reserves, but three of them have to be moved or sent down. Voronkov and Blankenburg can be sent to the American Hockey league without requiring waivers, so there’s not much surprise if they are the first two out. But if these rosters are truly indications of the team’s decision making process, they are set to lose one of Roslovic, Foudy, Boqvist, or Olivier via trade or waivers.
That may very well explain the number of scouts we have seen at CBJ games this preseason, as noted by Mark Scheig. Is it possible that the Jackets are shopping someone from the roster to make room for someone else? If that’s the case, could it have been someone who actually played last night?
I have a hard time seeing Roslovic and Boqvist not on the opening night roster. Olivier was just given a nice contract extension and was mentioned as a non-starter for trade at last year’s deadline, so I think he’s safe. I think they might try to sneak Liam Foudy through waivers; but still, it feels like something has to give here, and all of these guys appear to be on the outside looking in.
The regular season starts next Thursday, so look for the team to start making some cuts from the training camp roster in the next couple of days. After tonight, they’ll have just one preseason game remaining – Saturday night in Washington against these same Capitals. I would expect them to have mostly made their roster decisions by then, because again: two dress rehearsals. Keep a close eye on tonight’s game, it may be the last chance for some of these players to show what they have.