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The five things I’m looking forward to for Columbus this upcoming season

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I rattle off the five things I’m looking to find out as the Blue Jackets get the new season underway.

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Edmonton Oilers Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

The upcoming hockey season is in near full focus as prospects camp starts in Traverse City, Michigan on Friday, Sept. 6, and training camp gets going Thursday, Sept. 12. In thinking about the season getting started soon, I thought about the five things I’m looking forward to as the 2019-20 season gets going.

Preseason

Yes, when it comes to preseason, like in the NFL, it can become quite tedious, and in some respects, altogether worthless. But there will be some exciting storylines playing out for the Blue Jackets with roster spots up for grabs. Plus I’m looking forward to actual hockey games again.

Columbus will get their first crack Tuesday, Sept. 17 against Buffalo. It’ll be interesting to watch the roster battles play out and see which prospects and young players continue to emerge. I’m looking at you Liam Foudy, Trey Fix-Wolansky, Alexandre Texier, Elvis Merzlikins, and the list goes on.

Elvis Merzlikins

IHOCKEY-WORLD-SWE-LAT Photo credit should read PATRIK STOLLARZ/AFP/Getty Images

Speaking of Merzlikins, the team and fanbase alike have to be eager to see what the new Latvian goaltender can do with the center stage of the NHL at his disposal. The top goaltender in Switzerland, and previously dubbed ‘the best goaltender outside of the NHL right now’ by GM Jarmo Kekalainen, we’ll soon begin to find out some of the answers to questions that you may have.

Questions that I’ve been wondering since before Sergei Bobrovsky left for the beaches and sun of Miami, and when it seemed destined that Merzlikins would be getting his shot in Columbus this season.

How will Elvis do in North America, on NHL ice and against NHL competition? We will begin to know soon.

Here are stats of his career to this point while playing for teams such as HC Lugano and Latvia on the International stage.

Joonas Korpisalo

NHL: FEB 22 Blue Jackets at Senators Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

But there’s also quite a bit to ponder with the now veteran of the Blue Jacket goaltenders. The Cannon team had an exchange a month ago in Slack over how the goaltending situation might fare.

For Joonas Korpisalo, this is a big year for him as well. It’s his first real crack at taking over as the number one goalie and when asking special guest Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre during last week’s The Cannon Cast, the former NHLer figured that Korpisalo would be the de facto number one in the net. At least starting out.

The goaltending tandem of Merzlikins and Korpisalo will probably play out similar to the 2013 season when Sergei Bobrovsky and Steve Mason alternated the timeshare in net before Bobrovsky officially took over as the primary starter en route to winning the Vezina trophy and nearly guiding Columbus to a playoff berth.

Sonny Milano

Colorado Avalanche v Columbus Blue Jackets Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images

This will be a big camp for Sonny Milano as he looks to crack the starting lineup. We talked about that in the Top 25 under 25 feature for Milano. This is his chance to show he is ready to handle the rigors of the NHL and finally stick on the big club, in lieu of some holes on the roster that need filled. Of course, it’s probably not exactly that he couldn’t handle the rigors or stick on the roster before. We’ll see how the coaching staff and front office handle the business end of that.

Unlike in years past, Milano would now have to clear waivers if the Blue Jackets wanted to send him down to Cleveland.

Opening night

Canada v United States: Group A - 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Slovakia Photo by Lukasz Laskowski/PressFocus/MB Media/Getty Images

We still have just over a month before the start of the NHL regular season on Friday Oct. 4 when Columbus hosts the Maple Leafs. But that date is fast approaching. Will Mitchell Marner be re-signed by Toronto? Zach Werenski should be signed and ready to go for the Blue Jackets, and we’re not worried, as you heard on this week’s The Cannon Cast. I’m also not worried (I wrote about ‘Z’ recently when breaking down his value, as did one of our newest writers Rachel Bules).

Aside from the questions of when RFAs like Werenski and Marner sign, we’ll know how the rest of the lineups are filled out and I can’t wait to see the official new era ushered in by Merzlikins, Texier, and the rest of the young fresh crop.

Honorable mention

Gustav Nyquist’s addition to the Blue Jackets figures to be a seamless transition. You’d think so, anyway. But hopefully the native of Sweden can help reignite fellow Swede Alexander Wennberg, as the two have previous chemistry, flourishing together in international competition. As a result, I already proclaimed to the fellow writers in Slack that Wennberg will score 10 goals this season.

Poll

What are some of the things you’re most excited about or eager to watch unfold this season?

This poll is closed

  • 56%
    Merzlikins
    (100 votes)
  • 33%
    Young crop of forwards
    (59 votes)
  • 4%
    Milano on the NHL roster
    (8 votes)
  • 5%
    Other; Comment below
    (9 votes)
176 votes total Vote Now