Never Too Early: A 2020-21 Roster Prediction

By Jacob Nitzberg on August 29, 2020 at 9:20 am
Aug 17, 2020; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Cam Atkinson (13) celebrates with teammates , defenseman Zach Werenski (8), center Pierre-Luc Dubois (18), and defenseman Seth Jones (3) after scoring a goal in the second period in game four of the first round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena.
Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

While the NHL playoffs are still going on, the Blue Jackets have been eliminated.

Naturally, I'm already thinking about next season. Below, you'll see what the Blue Jackets' active roster could look like on the opening day of the 2020-21 NHL campaign. It's likely that GM Jarmo Kekalainen will make at least one move, if not more, before the season begins, so keep that in mind.

With that being said, let's begin with the forwards. An asterisk (*) will denote a player who is currently a restricted free agent (RFA).

Forwards (13)

  • Pierre-Luc Dubois*
  • Alexandre Texier
  • Oliver Bjorkstrand
  • Cam Atkinson
  • Gustav Nyquist
  • Alexander Wennberg
  • Josh Anderson*
  • Liam Foudy
  • Nick Foligno
  • Boone Jenner
  • Riley Nash
  • Mikhail Grigorenko
  • Emil Bemstrom

Missed the cut: Nathan Gerbe, Kevin Stenlund*, Devin Shore*, Eric Robinson

There's just the one new face in the forwards group, and it's Mikhail Grigorenko, the former first-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres. He'll play center for John Tortorella and should be in the opening game lineup.

Kekalainen said that resigning the three big RFAs (Anderson, Dubois, and Vladislav Gavrikov) will be the Blue Jackets' first priority this offseason. After that happens, the Blue Jackets aren't going to be too flexible in terms of cap space, so Kekalainen will have to be creative if he wants to bring another forward into the mix. 

It's a toss-up between Bemstrom and Robinson for the final spot on the roster. I think Bemstrom gets the edge, but Robinson could very well make the team.

Defensemen (7)

  • Seth Jones
  • Zach Werenski
  • Ryan Murray
  • David Savard
  • Vladislav Gavrikov*
  • Dean Kukan
  • Scott Harrington

Missed the cut: Andrew Peeke, Markus Nutivaara

We're moving on to defensemen, and this group is more clear-cut. The Blue Jackets' top six are set in stone, and then there's an obvious separation. Look for Nutivaara to be moved this offseason, as it was clear in the Stanley Cup Playoffs that Tortorella prefers Kukan.

Goaltenders (3)

  • Elvis Merzlikins
  • Joonas Korpisalo 
  • Matiss Kivlenieks 

Missed the cut: Veini Vehvilainen

Here's a group to keep your eye on. Korpisalo's stock is quite high right now after his performance during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It's possible that he could be traded to acquire some scoring, because Merzlikins is quite capable in net as well.

Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know.

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