One of the four players who will start the season on the Injured Reserve list for the Blue Jackets is forward Jared Boll. Obviously, this opens the door for one of the young guys. In recent practices, the third and fourth lines saw Matt Calvert and Derek Dorsett as well as Maksim Mayorov and Derick Brassard on the wings, respectively.
As coach Scott Arniel has hinted, the team will be at its best in his system when they can roll three scoring lines around one checking line. As of now, the horses finally appear to be there to run those three scoring lines, and if Kristian Huselius comes back at all this season and is able to contribute, well, that's one more scoring winger.
Given that the one checking line currently has Samuel Pahlsson at center, and Calvert and Dorsett on the wings--and that Calvert is clearly in the team's future plans--where does that leave Jared Boll when he comes back? Or, maybe more to the point, where does it leave Dorsett?
First of all, some housekeeping. I'm not attempting to full-on advocate for getting rid of either Dorsett or Boll. At least, not just yet. However, as I said on Twitter last week, I do dream of a day when the Jackets' roster is set up so that the team simply doesn't *need* both of them. This has never really been the case to this point, especially when the fourth line ended up being a energy-checking line.
But, I think that ship has sailed. One need only look at the current makeup of the fourth line--and this is without the return of Derek MacKenzie, who has shown he can play two ways with a modest scoring contribution--to see that Arniel's plans appear to be to gear the fourth line toward an energy-scoring line. Ryan Johansen, despite his increase in size, is not a checking center. Derick Brassard is certainly a scorer. Maksim Mayorov has shown in the pre-season that he might be a jack-of-all-trades type; a guy with skill who can play responsible two-way hockey.
Does Jared Boll kick someone off of that line when he returns? Probably not.
Also, once MacKenzie is back and healthy, he will command some playing time, most likely on the wing of one of those two lines. I believe he could play on either the third or the fourth lines, as currently constructed. So, essentially, what we're left with is this: there are three wing spots (I'm going to assume Arniel wants Pahlsson, Johansen, and Brassard in there as much as possible), and four players. If healthy, Calvert and MacKenzie showed enough last year to get a good chunk of playing time. MacKenzie could occasionally give Johansen the proverbial "catch your breath" night off at center; otherwise, he's probably playing wing.
So, if my logic holds any water--and don't quote me that it does--that leaves one wing spot, and two similar players to fill it: Jared Boll and Derek Dorsett. First, a quick tale of the tape, based on career stats:
|Jared Boll||25||6'2"||219 lbs||291||20||23||43||0.15||-20||737||2.53|
|Derek Dorsett||24||6'0"||190 lbs||179||12||24||36||0.20||-10||439||2.45|
At first glance, they appear to be pretty similar players. So, that begs the question: do the Jackets need to keep both of them?
I tend to look at it this way: with the size and skill coming up for the lower lines (think: Mayorov, Tomas Kubalik) and the fact that as the Jackets develop more top-6 skill players a guy like R.J. Umberger probably finds his way into this equation as well, do the Jackets continue to play both of these guys at the same time and put more skilled, and equally (if not more-so) defensive-minded players in the press box?
I hope not.
Even though the numbers slightly favor Dorsett, if I had to pick one to keep with a gun to my head it would be Boll. He's bigger, he better fills the role of enforcer, and--this is complete conjecture based on seeing the two of them play--he has better hands and skills. In the right situation--as this team hopefully continues to evolve and develop better two-way talent that can score--I think Boll could actually score 10+ goals. I just don't get that sense from Dorsett.
That's not to say Dorsett doesn't bring things to the table. He absolutely does: he plays all-out, all the time. He's a good guy in the room by all accounts. He's fearless. But, there's one little stat that I also come back to. Dorsett led the club in penalty minutes last season with 184. Not to be horribly outdone, Boll was right behind him with 182. The difference?
Dorsett took 32 minors and one non-fighting major, whereas Boll only took 15. 115 of Dorsett's PIMs came on fighting majors and misconducts. For Boll, it was 155. Meaning, if you're going to play the role of enforcer, do it. Dorsett takes far too many non-enforcer-y bad penalties; far more than Boll does, anyway.
So, while the Jackets may not yet technically be to the point where these guys are completely redundant (I mean, the Jackets are rolling THREE rookie forwards to start the season), it's on the horizon: they're both RFAs at the end of this coming season. (Boll makes slightly more than Dorsett, $725,000 vs. $562,500.) And, when that horizon gets here, the team will have to make a choice. I think they should only keep one; I believe it should be Boll.