The Columbus Blue Jackets open training camp on Thursday, signifying the official beginning to the hockey year. And, following a season with a 16-game win streak, garnering 100 points in the standings, and garnering the club’s first-ever regulation playoff victory, there’s a lot of reason for optimism surrounding this year’s team, and rightfully so.
Some of that optimism can be pinned on the Jackets’ blueline, who returns two of the league’s most exciting young players in Seth Jones and Zach Werenski, who are likely to return to John Tortorella’s top pairing, especially after combining 23 goals and 66 assists.
Also returning are veterans Jack Johnson and David Savard, who have been mainstays on the defensive front for CBJ, despite their inconsistent play and making fans frustrated at times. They’ll be back, so get ready for another roller coaster year.
As the pairings get deeper, however, the potential for new faces begin to arise.
The biggest name to keep an eye out for as training camp begins is that of Gabriel Carlsson, the Jackets’ first round pick in the 2015 draft. Last year, he spent a majority of the season in his native Sweden, posting four points (two goals, two assists) and a plus-8 in 40 games with Linkoping HC. If there’s anyone who makes the roster as a rookie this year, it’s Carlsson.
Doyle Somerby is another name to keep a look out for. He signed a two-year entry deal with the Jackets a couple of weeks ago after playing the last four years at Boston University.
Jacob Graves and Ryan Collins are the final two big names to look for, as they’ll be looking to prove they’re worthy of call ups throughout the year, but something will have to go very wrong to see them start the season in Columbus.
While seeing who is placed where, and who makes the team, is a big part of training camp, the other big part is seeing what pairs Torts goes with.
If anything, the big change in terms of pairing should be the aforementioned Jones and Werenski, and see if they can be as productive with another mate. If not, that’s fine - but that’s an awful lot of fire power at the top of the blueline and it’d be a shame to blow the firepower load there.
Is there a paring you’re hoping to see come the start of the season? Which defensive prospect has you most excited? Are you for or against splitting up Jones and Werenski?