By making eight moves on Monday, the Columbus Blue Jackets released their opening night roster for the start of the 2023-24 NHL season.
After much ado this fall about potential changes to the roster, there really weren’t any major surprises by the team coming out of training camp. In fact, the only thing that we can really say we were caught off guard by, was prospect Jordan Dumais (UBI) hitting the team’s IR list, rather than being returned to his junior team immediately.
They also placed G Daniil Tarasov (knee), F Yegor Chinakhov (back), and Mathieu Olivier on season-opening IR. The Jackets re-assigned four players, with Dmitri Voronkov, David Jiricek, and Nick Blankenburg heading to the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters; while defenseman Denton Mateychuk is heading back to the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors.
The team elected to keep 14 forwards and only 7 defensemen heading into opening night, which comes up this Thursday. It will be interesting to see if they continue to roll with the same lineup they’ve used in two of their last three preseason games – which did not include notables like Jack Roslovic and Adam Boqvist. This led to speculation that there could be some surprising moves coming out of camp – but no trade or shocking demotion has taken place thus far.
By electing to keep an extra forward, they’re able to punt their decisions on defense until a future point in time. The team is still heavy down the right side, with Boqvist joining Damon Severson, Andrew Peeke, and Erik Gudbranson as right-hand shots from the back end. Eventually, it feels like this team will have to make some decisions here, to make room for Jiricek and perhaps Blankenburg, depending on how their seasons go in Cleveland.
Up front, both Liam Foudy and Emil Bemstrom make the cut, with the team choosing not to risk losing either player via the waiver wire. In the case of Bemstrom, he had a really strong camp and preseason, earning his job over a lot of players who were making a push for it. With Foudy, it seems like the team just isn’t ready to write off a former first round pick – hopefully a new coach will help there.
Ultimately, the team will have plenty of options in reserve and call-ups this season. There were several players with strong training camps, giving us a glimpse into a brighter future. But as expected, some of them just weren’t ready – so don’t be surprised if we see more growing pains this season.