When the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin, the Blue Jackets' lineup will look considerably different than it did in the club's last regular season game against Vancouver on March 8th.
Cam Atkinson, Seth Jones, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Dean Kukan, Alexandre Texier, and Nathan Gerbe will all likely be in full health when the restart occurs.
"I think there's a good chance that we'll be fully healthy," Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen told Jeff Svoboda, the official team reporter.. "I think Josh Anderson is probably the only one where the timeline is going to get close to when he would be ready. Everyone else is on schedule and should be ready to play whenever we start."
Exciting times, folks. With the influx of healthy players, John Tortorella will have some tough calls to make in terms of who suits up.
Luckily, I'm not the one who has to make that decision. Despite that, I've decided to play "armchair head coach." Here are the 18 skaters and 2 goaltenders that would make my playoff roster.
L1: Texier - Dubois - Bjorkstrand
This line has the ability to score multiple goals every night it goes out there. Bjorkstrand has been the Blue Jackets' best forward all year, scoring multiple clutch goals. Dubois' playmaking skills will compliment that, and Texier's skill with the puck forms a perfect trio.
L2: Nyquist - Jenner - Atkinson
The second line also has the potential to score a good amount. The playmaking ability of Nyquist combined with Atkinson's finishing skills and Jenner's hard-nosed play-style makes for an exciting line that will work hard.
L3: Wennberg - Nash - Bemstrom
After a couple of disappointing seasons at center, Wennberg made the switch to wing before this year and has been much better. He's a reliable defensive player who still has great vision with the puck. Bemstrom has had a decent rookie campaign, and he certainly got better with every game he played. Nash is a known quantity at this point, but he works hard defensively and can chip in with the odd goal here and there.
L4: Foligno - Foudy - Stenlund
This is an interesting line, by my own admission. It's got grit thanks to Foligno, speed and skill thanks to Foudy, and an absolute missile of a shot thanks to Stenlund. It's not a conventional fourth line, but it's got three good defensive players on it who can score the puck.
Scratches: Gerbe, Robinson, Anderson (inj.)
P1: Werenski - Jones
I shouldn't have to say too much about this one. Jones and Werenski combine to form one of the best pairings in the NHL. Werenski led all NHL defensemen in goals with 20, and Jones can shut down just about any forward.
P2: Gavrikov - Savard
This pairing was very solid for the Blue Jackets this season. Gavrikov has been a revelation, and Savard has been his usual reliable self.
P3: Murray - Nutivaara
Murray's passing ability makes him dangerous 5v5 or on the power play, but there will always be questions about his health. Combined with Nutivaara, who is skillful with the puck but doesn't take many risks, this is a solid third pairing.
Scratches: Harrington, Kukan, Peeke
Merzlikins has earned the starting job, in my mind. He's been better than Korpisalo for many months. After the Latvian's rough start to the season, Merzlikins put it together in a way that few saw coming.
There you have it, folks. Whether John Tortorella agrees with me or not, there's one thing he and I certainly can agree on: depth is now a huge strength for the Blue Jackets.