Encouraging Start From Blue Jackets As Young Guns Seize Moment

By Sam Blazer on September 18, 2019 at 8:13 am
Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Sonny Milano (22) skates during the warmup period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome
Sergei Belski-USA Today Sports

Having a locked lineup that doesn't allow for any player movement is a young player's worst nightmare. It's basically veterans helping out veterans, and nothing can really be done by the younger player to make his way in. 

The Blue Jackets no longer have that issue. In fact, they may have two open spots up for grabs this fall. Those spots aren't being given to a UFA signing – they're looking to fill internally, and GM Jarmo Kekalainen has said as much leading up to the 2019-20 season.

For the Blue Jackets, it's a good thing that they have multiple players on the precipice of making the team. Three players last night, Kole Sherwood, Sonny Milano and Emil Bemstrom, all scored goals on their way to a 4-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres. 

And yes, we know it's only the first preseason game, but every moment matters. John Tortorella said this week that the younger players – particularly those who are in contention to make the club – will play 5-6 of the seven exhibition games. 

Milano's training camp is already being seen as a last-ditch effort to make the club and stick in Columbus. He's had an up-down-down career to this point, and faded last season after a strong start in 2017-18. Making sure that he's a can't-miss player this time around will be paramount if he wants to play in the NHL.

Bemstrom is coming in with all of the hype after performing well in the Swedish Hockey League, and his goal was a special power play goal. It was the type of goal that Blue Jackets fans would like to see for years and years. 

Sherwood is the hometown kid, but his ability to grind and play with speed on the forecheck may help him make the bottom-six of this squad.

The Blue Jackets are looking for players to seize the opportunity and grab hold of a roster spot, not back into one. As most of the veteran players are shaking off rust, these three young guys are already players to monitor during training camp.

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