That time of year is upon us! The Columbus Blue Jackets battled in the Traverse City Prospects Tournament over the last week for the first time since 2019, going 4-0. Now we dive into the roster battles featuring all the wingers, both established and those that might crack the roster as a wing.
On Tuesday, The Dominator16 previewed the centers
We’ve talked about how big a season this can be for Patrik Laine and the Columbus Blue Jackets. After the trade and subsequent struggles and inconsistencies, all eyes are on Laine to see what kind of rebound he can have. An RFA after the season, we’ll find out if Laine figures to be part of the Blue Jackets for the long haul. Play aside, that’s part of a separate conversation about whether he wants to remain in Central Ohio (Apparently he does?). But good, or bad play, might make that decision for him. Could he be part of a trade deadline move if he’s playing well and they don’t want a decision to linger?
All that aside, how do new teammates help him, such as the additions of Jakub Voráček? Gustav Nyquist returns to the lineup, and Max Domi will be back at some point this season as he recovers from off-season shoulder surgery. Laine didn’t exactly mince words following last season when he basically said he didn’t feel he was properly used.
Us at The Cannon, alongside all of you, wondered why Laine wasn’t used in key situations in the third period or overtime during games last season. Brad Larsen said shortly after being named head coach of the Blue Jackets that they’re going to surround Laine with the best players available. Stay tuned.
Oliver Bjorkstrand is really coming into his own and is among the best players on the team. I look forward to what he can do with some added playmaking in the addition of Jakub Voráček, a full season from Patrik Laine, and others.
2021 Player Review (Broad Street Hockey)
Jakub Voráček is back in Columbus after 10 seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers and Cam Atkinson was sent the other way. We’re hoping to see the playmaker in Voráček jumpstart a sputtering Bue Jackets offense, and as we already mentioned, get the likes of Patrik Laine going. In a normal full season, Voráček should put up north of 60 points and even 80 with a guy like Laine? That’s what Broad Street Hockey’s Kelly Hinkle mentioned when we asked her for the scoop into Laine.
Boone Jenner is the longest-tenured Blue Jacket and will add to that with the new four-year deal he signed this past summer. If there were to be an officially designated captain this season, Jenner is among the likeliest candidates as he figures to don the ‘A’. Jenner is a bottom-six player on this team, ideally, and who knows if he gets time at center because that has happened.
Alexandre Texier might be among those that really need a big season to impress or risk being passed over by talent in the pipeline.
Eric Robinson played a full season for the first time last year. As Seeds wrote about in his player review, Robinson did what he could given the opportunities and scored 18 points (eight goals, 10 assists).
Emil Bemstrom needs to have a big season to really make his mark. This is a name we recently talked about on The Cannon Cast and how this could be his last real shot with the other names coming up in the system. This season is the last year of Bemstrom’s Entry Level Contract. If he can find a way to get his shot and the offensive game going, it’s a whole other story.
We always joke about how Kevin Stelund seems to do something whenever he gets to play. Maybe he’ll have more opportunities this season.
Gustav Nyquist missed all of last season recovering from a labral tear in his left shoulder. Kinda like Domi this upcoming season.
Liam Foudy is among those looking for a big year in the final year of his ELC. No goals in 24 games last year and battling injury, we’ll see if he can develop more this year under Larsen.
Grégory Hofmann is another player that was acquired earlier this year in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes. This could be the year he makes his NHL debut after playing in the Swiss League over the last several years. Hofmann comes off a nice showing at the IIHF World Championships for Team Switzerland where he had eight points (six goals, two assists) in eight games.
Brendan Gaunce signed earlier this summer and can play center and left-wing.
NEWS: #CBJ have signed forward Brendan Gaunce to a one-year, two-way NHL/AHL contract.— CBJ Public Relations (@BlueJacketsPR) July 30, 2021
Gaunce posted 5-7-12 in 18 reg. season games with Vaxjo in the SHL and helped the club win the league championship in 2020-21.https://t.co/NuIUaYS5hc
Max Domi comes off a tough 2021 season and now starts the beginning of ‘21-22 on the shelf recovering from a labral tear in his right shoulder. At the time of his surgery, it was said he was expected to miss 5-6 months so expect an appearance by December-January? Domi is a UFA after the season and, once he’s back, this will be another big season for the 26-year-old forward to make an impact.
Zac Rinaldo was brought in on a one-year deal and the 31-year-old journeyman winger could spend the bulk of time in Cleveland and fill in on the big squad. Maybe.
John Davidson says all 67 #CBJ players in camp are fully vaccinated. "It's an important issue for us. It's a team-first issue."— Jeff Svoboda (@JacketsInsider) September 21, 2021
F Zac Rinaldo is not vaccinated so he will start in the AHL and will not come to training camp.
Nathan Gerbe will miss 4-6 months after undergoing hip surgery.
Eyes on the future?
Yegor Chinakhov had himself a tournament in Traverse City, scoring six points (all goals) in the first three games before being healthy scratched in Monday’s finale against the Toronto Maple Leafs. If you missed it, Chinakhov was one, two, three in goals for each game. His shot looks wicked and PaleDragon speaks about him in this week’s The Cannon Cast. Eyes are on Chinakhov and the potential to make his Blue Jackets debut this season.
Carson Meyer is a story we’ve been monitoring for a while. We know about the tapeworm he, unfortunately, dealt with a few years ago but this could be the year the local product and Ohio State kid makes his NHL debut for the Blue Jackets. It would be a great story for the former AAA Blue Jacket.
Trey Fix-Wolansky looks to have a strong rebound following a tear to his ACL that prematurely ended his season last year. Before the injury, he had nine points (four goals, five assists) in nine games.
Tyler Angle is looking to keep making noise and he comes off an impressive six-point tournament in Traverse City.
Tristan Mullin got his feet wet with the Cleveland Monsters last season for 15 games scoring four points (three goals, one assist). He also played with the University of Vermont earlier in the season and was with Cornell University in the seasons prior.
Martin Ryšavý was a seventh-round draft pick this past summer and will play for Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL this upcoming season. He played over in the Czech Republic prior.
Cole Fonstad played a few games in Cleveland last season and had an assist. We’ll see what he does for his Monsters encore this year.
Navrin Mutter was with Stockton Heat (Calgary Flames AHL) team last season. He’s a free agent camp invite for Columbus.
Have Played Wing
Jack Roslovic will be playing center this season but does have a history playing on the wing opposite Laine.
Sean Kuraly is a center coming into a four-year deal with Columbus but played wing at times for the Boston Bruins.
Josh Dunne was the leading Traverse City point-getter with seven (1-3—4 in Monday’s game) and while he’s listed as a center, he’s said he’s capable of playing either wing.
“I just want an opportunity. I’m capable of playing right wing, left wing, wherever they want me. I want to show what I can do and help the organization as much as I can, however I can and wherever that is. Whether it’s a big role or small role, I’m ready to help.” — Brian Hedger, Columbus Dispatch
Justin Danforth is also in the mix of those that can play center or wing and might be able to crack playing time. He’s 28-years old so he’s not exactly a young prospect but he’s coming off a nice year in the KHL last season.
NEWS: #CBJ have signed forward Justin Danforth to a one-year contract for the 2021-22 #NHL season.— CBJ Public Relations (@BlueJacketsPR) May 3, 2021
The forward led Vityaz Podolsk and finished 6th in the KHL in scoring with 23-32-55 in 58 games in 2020-21.https://t.co/anGLkf1UzC
Tyler Sikura re-signed earlier this summer and had some chemistry with others on this list.
TYLER ANGLE ON THE POWER PLAY!— Cleveland Monsters (@monstershockey) May 5, 2021
Assists to Carson Meyer, Tyler Sikura
1-0 | 1st Period, 10:16 pic.twitter.com/RA1yrcdPpF
There’s some guys on this list who may not be playing at wing, and there’s some guys so far away at the present time it’s truly hard to say. For instance, those listed as a center. Could they play wing? Probably so, but here’s a pretty exhaustive list for the time being!
Which player are you most excited for?
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