The Columbus Blue Jackets wrap their preseason tonight with a trip to the nation’s capital to take on the Washington Capitals. The Jackets have mostly narrowed their roster down to what fans can expect to see on opening night, with just a few spots left up for grabs - with Kirill Marchenko and Carson Meyer cut, there are four players battling for just two roster spots - Kent Johnson, Liam Foudy, Eric Robinson, and Emil Bemstrom. This is their final chance to make an impression before final cuts must be made.
Player to Watch
Johnson had an impressive camp, earning time early with Boone Jenner missing to center Johnny Gaudreau and Patrik Laine. Now, he is in a battle to even make the roster out of training camp. In a season where the Jackets are likely to miss the playoffs, it would behoove the team to get Johnson more NHL experience so that his development timeline can accelerate and, in the next few years while Gaudreau is still a high level player, Johnson can be a real contributor to a team that is pushing toward the playoffs and beyond. Cutting him in favor of worse players who will not factor in long term does not help the franchise’s prospects in any real way.
In other roster battles, Nick Blankenburg and David Jiricek are locked in a fight for the seventh defenseman spot, and both are waiver exempt for being sent to Cleveland … Marchenko was cut and sent to Cleveland, where he will be expected to continue adapting to the smaller ice and adjusting to the speed of the North American game
The Other Bench
TJ Oshie left the Capitals preseason game on Wednesday night early with an injury …. With Nicklas Backstrom out, Connor Brown and Dylan Strome have taken over the first and second line center positions on the roster … Washington changed over it’s netminder position this offseason, losing Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanacek and replacing them with Stanley Cup winner Darcy Kuemper and Charlie Lindgren as his backup