The Columbus Blue Jackets technically played a game last night, losing 4-1 at the Chicago Blackhawks. But you’ll be forgiven if you didn’t notice. There were important football games going on, if that’s your thing, and the roster that made the trip more closely resembled the Cleveland Monsters roster.
- Two former Jackets scored for the Blackhawks, Artem Anisimov and Brandon Saad. Good for them, I guess.
- Joonas Korpisalo looked good, in the face of a Chicago barrage (outshot the Monsters 36-17).
Korpisalo stopped 23 of 27 shots in 35:17 of play. Made some brilliant saves among the 24 stops.— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) September 30, 2018
Korpisalo allowed the PPG there to Seabrook, but he's been outstanding so far ... under major heat.#CBJ— Brian Hedger (@JacketsInsider) September 30, 2018
- Kevin Stenlund scored a nice goal...
The Jackets finish with a 3-5 record. That’s not great, but two of the losses featured a roster heavy on prospects. In the few games which featured close to a regular lineup, the team looked much better.
The first line in particular appeared to pick up where they left off. After missing the start of camp with a minor neck injury, Artemi Panarin scored 3 goals and 4 assists in just 3 games. His partner Cam Atkinson matched that tally. Center Pierre-Luc Dubois didn’t record any points, but he looked strong and showed no signs of a sophomore slump.
My boy BJORKSTRAND had a nice preseason, too, with a hat trick at Pittsburgh and another goal against the Pens in the 7-6 free-for-all on Friday.
Among the prospects, the one that had the best preseason was the aforementioned Stenlund. He was third on the team in points, with 2 goals and 3 assists in 4 games. He has not yet been included in the list of players assigned to Cleveland. Could he end up making the roster after the final cut on Tuesday?
The Swede that got more attention entering camp was Jonathan Davidsson. He had received praise from the front office and it was known he was competing for a spot. I saw flashes of NHL-level skill, but not consistently enough to make the team. I wish he could be sent to Cleveland for a couple months before getting another shot, but unfortunately the NHL/SHL transfer agreement means he must return to his Swedish team for the season if he doesn’t make the cut now.
Someone who had a very bad preseason: Sergei Bobrovsky. Does he not understand that you’re supposed to play well in a walk year? In three starts, he had a GAA of 5.13 and .819 save percentage. Let’s hope that’s just a fluke. He needs to be sharper starting on Thursday, especially with a less an injury-depleted defense in front of him.
Who makes the cut?
In for sure (10):
Anderson, Atkinson, Bjorkstrand, Dubinsky, Dubois, Foligno, Jenner, Nash, Panarin, Wennberg
Also in consideration (pick 3-4 of 7):
Broadhurst, Davidsson, Duclair, Hannikainen, Milano, Sedlak, Stenlund
I think Duclair is in, for sure. There is more sandpaper to his game than I expected. He got a goal and 2 assists in 5 games. His common linemate Sonny Milano will probably make the team, but I don’t know that he did enough to earn it with his play. I thought he looked more physical, but someone with his offensive skill set should have earned a single point, at least. He can be sent down to Cleveland without passing through waivers, and the team may take advantage of that to give someone else a longer look. Could that be used to get Davidsson on the roster? At least for a 9 game tryout before sending him back to Sweden.
Sedlak would make sense as a spare forward who can be scratched but who can fill in at center if needed. Do you keep him because he’s OK to scratch, or do you put Stenlund on there, who has more upside and can challenge the bottom of the roster for playing time?
It’s worth risking Broadhurst and Hannikainen on waivers. I don’t want to lose either from the organization yet, but I think each would clear and get assigned to Cleveland. They’re just not on the level of the rest of the forward group.
Jones, Murray, Harrington
In for sure (3):
Nutivaara, Savard, Werenski
Also in consideration (3):
Clendening, Carlsson, Kukan
Clendening had a nice preseason and even if Harrington were not hurt, I would keep Clendening over him. Carlsson and Kukan had their ups and downs but have excellent opportunities to impress with Jones and Murray out. No need to make cuts yet.
Who impressed you in preseason? Who disappointed? Who makes the cut for you among these bubble players?