As we've seen over these past few months, plenty can change in a week's time. But assuming nothing drastic changes, on July 26, the Blue Jackets will head to their bubble site in Toronto. The Blue Jackets have been on the ice as their training camp for the past week, and the good news is that, aside from Josh Anderson, all players are healthy.
So, who goes to Toronto, and who fails to make the roster?
Per the NHL's updated CBA agreement, rosters will be limited to 31 players (including goalies).
A few housekeeping items, before we begin. Jakob Lilja has signed with Barys Nur-Sultan of the KHL and isn't with the Blue Jackets organization. Mikhail Grigorenko signed a one year deal with the Blue Jackets but isn't eligible to play until next season. And per The Athletic's Aaron Portzline, the Blue Jackets are expected to hold a roster spot for the rehabbing Anderson, even if he may not be healthy enough to play for weeks or (likely) months.
How will teams choose to allocate their 31 players? I would imagine that every team would bring three goalies for insurance purposes. It wouldn't be the craziest idea ever to bring four, just given the stakes and the importance of the position (could you imagine a team forfeiting because they didn't have a healthy goalie to play?). That leaves 28, with 18 forwards and 10 defensemen. That would be six forward lines and five defense pairs, which, aside from being nicely symmetrical, is also a reasonable amount of insurance at both positions. So that's what we're going with for purposes of this article, though the Blue Jackets may align their roster differently.
Locks (16): Josh Anderson, Cam Atkinson, Emil Bemstrom, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Nick Foligno, Liam Foudy, Nathan Gerbe, Boone Jenner, Riley Nash, Gus Nyquist, Eric Robinson, Devin Shore, Kevin Stenlund, Alexandre Texier, Alexander Wennberg
Bubble (2): Stefan Matteau, Kole Sherwood
Cut (1): Ryan MacInnis
Skinny: If Matteau, Sherwood, or MacInnis see game action during the playoffs, it's either because of attrition due to injuries or to COVID-19. Either way, it's not ideal. MacInnis is the odd man out. Matteau showed well for himself, and Sherwood's size and skating ability give him the edge of MacInnis.
Locks (9): Vladislav Gavrikov, Scott Harrington, Seth Jones, Dean Kukan, Ryan Murray, Markus Nutivaara, Andrew Peeke, David Savard, Zach Werenski
Bubble (1): Adam Clendening
Cut (1): Gabriel Carlsson
Skinny: You can never have enough defensemen, and the Blue Jackets are fortunate to have more organizational depth on the blue line than any time in their history. An embarrassment of riches, yes, but also a difficult decision. Clendening, a veteran righty with playoff experience as recent as last year, gets the nod.
Locks (2): Joonas Korpisalo, Elvis Merzlikins
Bubble (1): Matiss Kivlenieks
Cut (1): Veini Vehviläinen
Skinny: As I mentioned off the top, I could foresee a scenario where teams bring four goalies as an insurance policy against Covid-19. If three of 18 forwards contract the disease, the games could go on. Three of three goalies? Not so much. Kivlenieks proved to many this year that he could be more than an AHL goalie. Vehviläinen may have a turn one day, but now is not the time.