David Jiricek is Forcing the Blue Jackets' Hand to Put Him in the Lineup for Opening Night

By Coby Maeir on August 19, 2022 at 10:15 am
David Jiricek
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Team Czechia is one win away from the World Juniors gold medal game.

Following a massive upset of the defending champions, Team USA, they'll face Team Canada today at 4 p.m. ET. A large reason for their success has been the play of David Jiricek, whom the Blue Jackets selected with the sixth overall pick in this summer's NHL Draft. 

At the World Juniors, Jiricek has played in all five of Czechia's games and has registered one assist, two PIM, and played 21:43 per game, which ranks second on his team.

Jiricek has shined on junior hockey's biggest stage, but has he played well enough to make the opening night roster for the Jackets?

While that decision is up to Jarmo Kekalainen and the rest of the management team, Jiricek is making their decision much more difficult than it was two weeks ago before the tournament started. 

Right now, Cap Friendly lists eight defensemen on the Blue Jackets' NHL roster: Zach Werenski, Adam Boqvist, Andrew Peeke, Vladislav Gavrikov, Nick Blankenburg, Jake Bean, Erik Gudbranson, and Gavin Bayreuther. 

Werenski, Gudbranson, Gavrikov, Peeke, and Boqvist look like shoe-ins to be in the opening night lineup, leaving that sixth spot open for Blankenburg, Bean, Bayreuther, and potentially Jiricek to compete for. 

Regardless of how Jiricek plays in Czechia's final two games (semi-final and either the gold or bronze medal game), he'll still have training camp to leave a mark on the Blue Jackets before they make their decision for opening night, which is October 12. 

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