Tonight the Blue Jackets defeated the Blues 5-2 to earn their second win of this preseason. After a series of cuts earlier in the day, this roster featured most of the the remaining players that are fighting for spots on the roster. Rather than a blow-by-blow of the game, I thought I’d give my observations from the shoot twice corner of Nationwide Arena (yes, I was one of the handful of people there. It was like an LA Rams game inside).
4 Scott Harrington: I was going to be complimentary of him, then he failed to block a point blank shot in the third period. Overall I think he has improved since last year. He’s playing quicker.
11 Matt Calvert: Didn’t stand out; showed his usual hustle on the PK.
27 Ryan Murray: Solid game, nothing special.
28 Oliver BJORKSTRAND: While he got some nice shots on goal, it was his passing that earned him First Star honors, with 2 assists on the night. I think he can be a real weapon on the second power play unit.
45 Lukas Sedlak: Sedsy has come a long way in the last year. What I saw tonight supported my offseason opinion that he could step into the void vacated by William Karlsson. Reliable bottom 6 center with special teams upside.
58 David Savard: One could forgive Savard for taking it easy in a preseason game, but instead he looked like he was playing hungry. He was very aggressive on offense, unleashing his cannon of a shot several times. He had 23 points last year; I can see him getting 30+ this year if he keeps playing like this.
70 Joonas Korpisalo: Korpi didn’t have to save 52 shots like he did over the weekend. His teammates did a good job of dominating possession but Korpi still made some Bob-esque saves.
16 John Mitchell: Mitchell seemed to be consistently around the puck tonight. I don’t think he makes the Columbus roster, but he could be a valuable veteran presence in Cleveland.
18 Pierre-Luc Dubois: What struck me seeing PLD in person was that he is BIG. Unlike last preseason, where he didn’t stand out to me, this time he used that size to his advantage. On the power play, he camped out in front of the goal, attracting attention from multiple defenders. He’s going to start the year as a power winger and I think he will be productive in that role. His goal tonight was a Foligno-style net crasher.
22 Sonny Milano: Milano has been having a great camp and preseason and nothing tonight changes that. He was playing with a lot of confidence tonight. This is a guy who feels he deserves a spot on the roster, and he’s not going to give it up.
29 Brady Austin: Was a late addition to the lineup after Gabriel Carlsson was scratched. Insert chin rub emoji here.
37 Markus Hannikainen: He’s been a bit invisible but had his best preseason game tonight. His goal was a beauty, as he picked the pocket on the forecheck. Will it be enough to avoid I-71 again?
46 Dean Kukan: Kukan also scored a power play goal tonight. He played so well late in the 2015-16 season, but is now a bit forgotten. It’s not that he’s regressed, but rather the arrival of guys like Werenski and Nutivaara has pushed him down the depth chart. Should we talk about Kukan as a piece of trade bait?
50 Nick Moutrey: Nothing special here.
64 Tyler Motte: After struggling on Sunday, Motte had a stand-out performance tonight. He played with high energy on every shift. Opened the scoring with an impressive goal, then later in the first period he had a shorthanded breakaway chance that drew a penalty. Torts shifted the lines later in the game and put Motte with Calvert and Sedlak. That looks like a plausible regular season line.
65 Markus Nutivaara: Nuti scored a power play goal. He was a stay-at-home defenseman last year, but perhaps he possesses some offensive skill? Like Savard, will we get to see him be more aggressive on offense this year? A game like this improves his chances of staying in Columbus ahead of Carlsson.
67 Justin Scott: Did not stand out one way or the other.
79 Vitaly Abramov: There are glimpses of skill, but he’s not NHL ready. He’s undersized: not just short, but skinny too. He played a bit fatigued. He will need a year or two of playing against adults and adding bulk/strength in Europe.
83 Calvin Thurkauf: Took a couple of lazy penalties in the first period. He will benefit from time in Cleveland.
Expect more cuts Wednesday morning. The team travels to Nashville on Thursday for the penultimate preseason game. Expect these last two games to be a dress rehearsal for the regular season.