Projecting the Blue Jackets Training Camp Roster

By Dan Dukart on December 31, 2020 at 8:05 am
John Tortorella looks on from the stands
Adam Cairns/Dispatch
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When the Columbus Blue Jackets open up an abridged training camp on January 3rd, there will be plenty of familiar faces, but plenty of question marks still remain. 

Aside from the elephant in the room – will Pierre-Luc Dubois be signed by then? – the expanded camp rosters and lack of exhibition games mean that teams can bring in more players than usual for a training camp that launches less than two weeks before the first puck drop of the season.

With the shortened runway before the season, will the Blue Jackets utilize the full training camp roster of 36 skaters? Will they take advantage of the 'unlimited goalies' that are eligible to attend camp, to give reprieve to the clear incumbents?  

Here's our projection of which players will be in attendance when training camp opens up on Jan 3.

Forwards (21):
  • Cam Atkinson 
  • Nick Foligno
  • Max Domi
  • Pierre-Luc Dubois
  • Oliver Bjorkstrand
  • Boone Jenner
  • Riley Nash
  • Alexandre Texier
  • Liam Foudy
  • Emil Bemstrom
  • Mikhail Grigorenko
  • Mikko Koivu
  • Eric Robinson
  • Kevin Stenlund
  • Nathan Gerbe
  • Kole Sherwood
  • Stefan Matteau
  • Trey Fix-Wolansky
  • Cliff Pu
  • Zac Dalpe  
  • Ryan MacInnis

This projection obviously presumes that Dubois will be signed by then, but even if he isn't there to begin training camp, the Blue Jackets have 20 other forwards who could theoretically open the season on the opening night roster (although how theoretical is a different debate). Even that number – 21 – makes a ton of sense. That's seven forward lines. Could they bring in an additional player or two on PTOs?

With Gus Nyquist (and Brandon Dubinsky) sidelined with an injury, there's a big spot up for grabs. That's not the only interesting storylines to follow at camp. Can Bemstrom and Texier take the next step in their development? Where will Grigorenko fit in? Is Foudy on the opening night roster? Will Domi gel with Atkinson? 

Defensemen (13) 
  • Seth Jones
  • Zach Werenski
  • David Savard
  • Vladislav Gavrikov
  • Dean Kukan
  • Scott Harrington
  • Michael Del Zotto
  • Andrew Peeke
  • Gabriel Carlsson
  • Adam Clendening
  • Gavin Bayreuther
  • Jacob Christiansen
  • Tim Berni 

The top four are in sharpie, but with no Markus Nutivaara and Ryan Murray, both spots on the third pair could be up for grabs. Look for Dean Kukan and Andrew Peeke to get the first crack at that, but with a shortened season, the club's (still relatively strong) depth should come in handy. Bringing in Del Zotto, who played for John Tortorella on the New York Rangers, is a nice insurance policy. 

Goaltenders (4)
  • Elvis Merzlikins
  • Joonas Korpisalo
  • Matiss Kivlenieks
  • Veini Vehvilainen  

Like the defense corps, the goalie group has relatively little drama. Merzlikins and Korpisalo are clearly on the roster when the regular season starts. But, again, with a shortened camp and injury/overexertion concerns omnipresent, the Blue Jackets could look to bring in any number of remaining UFA goalies to spell their other goalies. On the other hand, if the currently-on-loan Daniil Tarasov makes the trek from Russia, perhaps that point is null.

Parting Thoughts

At first glance, I thought that the Blue Jackets (and every other team) would surely elect to bring the fully allotted 36 skaters to training camp. But between Tortorella's thoughts about getting his players game-ready and the Blue Jackets (tied for league-low) 40 NHL contracts, it's unlikely this team will bring 36 skaters to their training camp. That could change in a hurry, as Jarmo Kekalainen could easily choose to bring in additional players to camp on PTOs. Either way, the Blue Jackets hope to get through their training camp appropriately rested, tested, and healthy.   


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