Labor Day has come and gone, College Football is in full swing, and this means one other pertinent detail:
The NHL regular season is nearly within our grasp.
Though it may be hard to believe another season is already soon approaching, and that the offseason has come and gone faster than you can blink, it’s time to tap into all things Columbus Blue Jackets.
Without further ado, Training camp is slated to get under way Thursday, Sept. 13. More on the entire schedule when that information is released. Among the potential breakout performers to keep an eye on is Vitaly Abramov, who we profiled last month.
Below is the full preseason slate.
Monday, Sept. 17, 7:00
Buffalo Sabres at Columbus
Tuesday, Sept. 18, 7:00
Chicago Blackhawks at Columbus
Friday, Sept. 21, 8:00
Columbus at St. Louis Blues
Saturday, Sept. 22, 3:00
Columbus at Pittsburgh Penguins
Tuesday, Sept. 25, 7:00
Columbus at Buffalo Sabres
Friday, Sept. 28, 7:00
Pittsburgh at Columbus
Kraft Hockeyville USA Game
For that Sabres matchup on the 25th, the game can be seen nationally on NBCSN as part of the Kraft Hockeyville USA Game from Clintonville, New York. As part of being the selected winner to host an NHL preseason game, Clintonville also receives $150,000 in rink upgrades, while select communities will also receive new hockey equipment. More info regarding the game and event can be found here.
Top 25 Under 25
Recently, The Cannon completed the Top 25 Under 25 segment featuring some of the brightest Blue Jackets players and prospects. From the talented winger in Abramov, to newly acquired Anthony Duclair, both looking to make impacts in training camp and in the season ahead for Columbus. While both look to make positive impressions in Columbus, Duclair looks to do so with his third team in a calendar year, and he’s still just 23-years-old. Abramov tries to make the team out of camp, but whether it’s now or later, keep your eyes peeled on him as he figures to make his NHL debut this year.
Looking Ahead to Opening Night
The Jackets will get their 18th regular season underway in Detroit against the Red Wings Thursday Oct. 4 and will play their home opener against the Carolina Hurricanes Friday Oct. 5.
In a recent interview with Blue Jackets color analyst Jody Shelley, Shelley talks about players to watch this upcoming season among a myriad of personal insight, both from his days as a player and in analyzing the team and season ahead.
Bread, Bob, and the Rest
Still no closer to an Artemi Panarin contract resolution, he will start the season in Columbus, and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, also a UFA following the 2018-19 campaign, begins what could be his final year in Columbus. John Tortorella addressed those storylines, and much more, in an interview with Aaron Portzline of The Athletic. Recently, the NHL Network ranked Bobrovsky the best overall goalie in the NHL, and Panarin inside the top 10 of the top 20 right wings in the NHL.
Speaking of Torts, I’ve been a big believer of him and his turnaround in Columbus. People laughed when he was brought in, following his disastrous stint with the Vancouver Canucks and the Jackets mired in an 0-7 hole to start the 2015-16 season.
While some might still gloss over Tortorella, whether his approach on game day with lineups, personality and everything else, he is the only coach to guide the Jackets to consecutive playoff appearances.
I saw this article by Rob Mixer of 1st Ohio Battery questioning what was going on with the Jackets and Tortorella, who enters the upcoming season in the final year of his contract. Now wins, playoffs, a Jack Adams award are all nice for Torts’ ledger. And he’ll be the first to tell you all that matters is going to the playoffs and winning. While I am a Tortorella fan, I do wonder if his seat is warmer, particularly if they don’t make the playoffs or advance this season.
They are a playoff contender for sure. Who knows, once the playoffs start, what happens.
Yet, while I sort of wondered if Tortorella is coaching for his job in Columbus past this season, it sounds like that extension might be agreed upon much sooner.
Told my both parties that a contract extension for #CBJ coach John Tortorella is “still in the works.” Hope is to have it done before training camp.— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) September 5, 2018
But, another one-and-done, and with the possibility of roster turnover with Bobrovsky and Panarin as well, I would probably welcome the idea of change. One way or the other.
Basically, I’m a firm believer that the talent might be there, but the players need to get it done. Period.
Oh yea, and is Rick Nash still a free agent? Never retired? Is he coming back to Columbus? Probably not as a player. Maybe as an ‘ambassador’ one day. An iffy subject for some, I never really blamed him for wanting to leave a rebuild. Could things have gone differently? Sure, but I was more in the camp that the team needed to move on, as did Rick. It netted Columbus some productive Brandon Dubinsky years, Artem Anisimov who was pretty good, who in turn netted Brandon Saad, which ushered in Panarin.
Which takes us back to the current Panarin saga doesn’t it?
Ah well. Hockey is just about back. All the storylines will play out in their own wonderful way, and, say, who’s ready for that first Jack Johnson appearance?