The big news headlining the beginning of Columbus Blue Jackets training camp is the holdout with forward Josh Anderson. Anderson, a fourth-round draft pick in 2012, registered 17 goals, 12 assists in 2016-17, his first full season.
Protected against June’s expansion draft and the Vegas Golden Knights, Anderson’s agent, Darren Ferris, has said his client will not report to camp without a contract and will train with a team in Switzerland should a contract with Columbus not be worked out.
— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) September 13, 2017
John Tortorella said Wednesday the Jackets are ready to roll on in camp with, or without Anderson, and a holdout may cost Anderson his job.
Obviously, Anderson features upside, but at what price?
While the team made sure not to leave him exposed to Vegas last June, Columbus will still have to figure in potential long-term contacts for Cam Atkinson (UFA: 2018), Jack Johnson (UFA: 2018), Matt Calvert (UFA: 2018), Artemi Panarin (UFA: 2019), and Sergei Bobrovsky (UFA: 2019). They’ll also have several restricted free agents including Boone Jenner, Ryan Murray, and Oliver Bjorkstrandfollowing this season.
The Jackets have just under $8 million in available cap space. Then, of course, there’s the ongoing Matt Duchene, will he be traded or not, saga. Duchene ended his own holdout Thursday. While GM Joe Sakic continues to evaluate possible trade scenarios, could this Anderson situation spill back into a potential Duchene addition? Stay tuned.
Notables to watch
Jenner, meanwhile, is dealing with a middle body injury and will not be active in the initial stages of camp.
Brandon Dubinsky is still shelved from offseason wrist surgery. While the expected recovery timeline was three months, his status for opening night — Oct. 6 versus NYI — is still up in the air.
Rookies trying to make major impact
The Blue Jackets fell short in the prospect tournament championship game Tuesday night against the Chicago Blackhawks in Traverse City. Yet two notables from that Jackets squad continued strong showings, and each has their sights on bigger things.
Pierre-Luc Dubois, the third overall pick from 2016, looks to make the team out of camp, eyeing the third-line center spot. Having gone through training camp a year ago, he has the mental perspective of what to expect. Dubois spent 2016 playing with Cape Breton and Blainville-Boisbriand of the QMJHL. While he put up 55 points between both teams, his focus, as advised by Blue Jackets coaches, was to continue learning the center position.
Dubois has caught the eye of Cleveland Monsters coach John Madden, saying among the group of prospects, Dubois is “the most consistent player.” As Madden further alluded, “Maybe he hasn’t put up the numbers somebody else has, but his body of work in terms of the full 200-foot game is right on par.”
Along with Dubois, Vitaly Abramov (84 goals, 113 assists, in Gatineau last two seasons) is eying to make the NHL squad as well. He also looks forward to skating with the teams’ veterans, perhaps most notably, with fellow Russian newcomer, the one they call Bread Man.
“They lost Brandon Saad, but they got Artemi Panarin. It’s part of the business, part of the game, but of course … he’s one more Russian on the team and that’s nice, honestly. We’re from the same area in Russia so it’s really nice for me.”
“That’s the approach we want from every player attending the camp. If you don’t come to the camp trying to make the team, you’ve got the wrong mindset, in my opinion.”
One of the essentials for the Panarin-Saad trade to work out was the addition of University of Michigan product and RW Tyler Motte. While it depends on how camp goes, and how Motte ultimately does, there’s belief he could already slot in on the big club, thanks to the departures of Sam Gagner, William Karlsson, and Scott Hartnell.
The Jackets are also quite familiar with Motte, as they saw a lot of him when scouting fellow college teammate Zach Werenski while at Michigan.
Below is the scheduled times of all camps, practices and preseason action.