I am not typically big on the preseason.
It’s a myriad of borderline NHL players fighting for roster spots and if we’re lucky, a couple of players worth watching.
But this year is different. I’m pumped, and I’m excited to get a little taste of what the future of the Columbus Blue Jackets might look like.
Here’s why this preseason is one to watch:
Two Words: Yegor. Chinakhov.
He’s not old enough to drink yet, but Chinakhov has an outside chance at making the roster. After tearing it up in the KHL last season, where he was named rookie of the year, the winger will now bring his stout shot to the United States. Odds are Chinakhov plays most of the season with the Cleveland Monsters, which is a better spot for him than the bottom pairing in Columbus at this point in his career. No matter where he plays the regular season, we’ll see Chinakhov on the Nationwide Arena ice for the first time in September.
Two More: Cole. Sillinger.
Cole Sillinger can play in the NHL this season, but like Chinakhov, would be better served in Cleveland this winter if he doesn't absolutely tear it up with the Blue Jackets in the preseason. Sillinger has already played in the USHL, which means he has three options: Columbus, Cleveland, or the WHL. Of the three, WHL could be seen as a worst case scenario, Cleveland the most likely option, and the Blue Jackets as a best case. The preseason will determine that.
The Impact Of Justin Danforth And/Or Gregory Hofmann
I can’t shake the feeling that at least one of these guys scores double-digit goals with the Blue Jackets this season. They are proven players overseas players, but at 28-years-old, neither is really a young man by NHL standards. How their games transfer over to the NHL style is the glaring question here, but two chances are better than one and both Danforth and Hofmann have put up big numbers in other professional leagues.
Top Line Chemistry
Jake Voracek and Patrik Laine sounds like the most skilled top line the Blue Jackets have put out since Artemi Panarin left town, but will what looks good on paper translate to the ice? Top guys don't typically see a lot of time in exhibition games, but you have to imagine that head coach Brad Larsen will at least see what the duo can do before October 14th.
The Youth Of A Defense
Boqvist, Jake Bean, and Andrew Peeke have the potential to be really good NHL defensemen. They’ve played in only 153 games combined, and each for a different team. Seeing these guys prove themselves in the preseason would go a long way in restoring a Blue Jackets defense that was their bread and butter for so long.