Old Friends: 35 Former Blue Jackets Began the Season on NHL Rosters

By Jeff Svoboda on October 10, 2017 at 1:45 pm
Brandon Saad is off to a hot start

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports


Twenty-three players made the Columbus Blue Jackets' opening day roster, but many, many more humans did not.

In fact, many, many more humans have worn the union blue in the past and started the season on other NHL rosters to begin the campaign.

Thirty-five players to either suit up for the Jackets or decline to do so despite the team owning his rights – Mike Reilly, ladies and gentlemen! – began the season in the league. One has already switched sweaters – Adam Cracknell, ladies and gentlemen! – but many are expected to be key cogs in their teams' plans as the 2017-18 season goes on.

So whether you want to watch the former Jackets on television throughout the year or check them out in opposing sweaters in Nationwide Arena – and in some cases boo them; Jeff Carter, ladies and gentlemen! – here's your guide of which teams to watch. In addition, at the end, we'll take a look at a few familiar names that are around the league.

Anaheim Ducks: Defenseman Francois Beauchemin (2005 with the Jackets) and forwards Jared Boll (2007-16) and Antoine Vermette (2009-12) are on the active roster. Now 37, Beauchemin has returned for his third stint in Anaheim after two years in Colorado; he first joined the Ducks in 2005 in the Sergei Fedorov trade after just 11 games in union blue and also wore the webbed foot from 2011-15. Veterans Vermette (35 years old) and Boll (31) are each in their second seasons in Anaheim after signing as free agents during the summer of 2016.

Arizona Coyotes: Defenseman Kevin Connauton (2014-16) continues his journeyman career with his third season in the desert. Connauton debuted in 2013 in Dallas, was claimed on waivers by Columbus, and also went to Arizona on waivers in January 2016. 

Buffalo Sabres: Defenseman Justin Falk (2015-16) is on injured reserve to begin the campaign with a lower-body injury. Falk split last year with Buffalo and the AHL's Rochester Americans after signing with the organization in the summer of 2016.

Chicago Blackhawks: As Blue Jackets fans discovered Saturday night, forwards Brandon Saad (2015-17) and Artem Anisimov (2013-15) as well as goaltender Anton Forsberg (2015-17) wear the Indian head on their sweaters. Saad, who began the year with four goals in his first two games, returned to his former team along with Forsberg in a draft-day trade after spending the past two seasons with Columbus. Anisimov, who was in the original Saad deal in the summer of 2015, has been with Chicago ever since.

Colorado Avalanche: Winger Blake Comeau (2013-14) began the year on the active roster. The 31-year-old signed with Pittsburgh after the 2014 playoff run then inked a deal in Colorado, where he is now in his third campaign.

Dallas Stars: Adam Cracknell (2014-15) began the year on the active roster before hitting waivers and being claimed by the New York Rangers on Monday, while defenseman Marc Methot (2007-12) is also on the squad. Cracknell has bounced around the waiver wire since playing 17 games with the Blue Jackets, also suiting up for Vancouver, Edmonton and then the Stars last season. Methot, now 32, spent the past five seasons in Ottawa after being dealt from Columbus to Nick Foligno and is now in his first season in green after an offseason trade.

Edmonton Oilers: Forward Mark Letestu (2011-15) and defenseman Kris Russell (2007-11) have the privilege of playing with Connor McDavid. Letestu is in his third season with the Oilers since signing as a free agent, while Russell inked a deal with Edmonton in the summer of 2016 after stints in St. Louis, Calgary and Dallas after being dealt in November 2011 for Nikita Nikitin.

Florida Panthers: Forward Derek MacKenzie (2007-14) returns as the Panthers' captain. The gritty center has been with Florida for four seasons after establishing himself as a reliable NHL player during his time in union blue.

Los Angeles Kings: Forward Jeff Carter (2012-13) began the season on the active roster while Marian Gaborik (2013-14) was on injured reserve. Carter has been with the Kings since the February, 2012, deal that brought Jack Johnson to Columbus. Gaborik, who is fighting a knee injury, has been with the Kings since a deadline deal in 2014.

Minnesota Wild: Defenseman Kyle Quincey joined fellow blueliner Mike Reilly up north this offseason. Quincey was a Blue Jacket for 20 regular-season games and two playoff contests last season before being allowed to leave as a free agent. Reilly was drafted by Columbus in the fourth round in 2011 but chose not to sign with the Blue Jackets, instead signing with Minnesota in the summer of 2015.

Nashville Predators: Forward Scott Hartnell (2014-17) signed with former running mate Ryan Johansen (2011-16) this offseason to give the Western Conference champs two former Blue Jackets. Johansen is now in his third year and second full season with the Preds since the Seth Jones deal, while Hartnell was bought out by Columbus this summer. 

New Jersey Devils: The blue line features two former Jackets in Dalton Prout (2012-17) as well as John Moore (2011-13). Prout joined the team late last season in the Quincey deal after six-plus seasons in Columbus, while Moore is in his third season with the Devils after playing for the Rangers and Coyotes.

New York Islanders: Amazingly enough, former CBJ forward Jason Chimera (2005-10) is in his 18th season in the NHL on Long Island. Chimera spent six-plus seasons with the Capitals after being traded from Columbus and is now in his second campaign with the Isles.

New York Rangers: A team that often features former Jackets now has three on the roster in Cracknell, forward Rick Nash (2002-12) and defenseman Nick Holden (2010-13). Nash has been with the team since the blockbuster deal in July 2012 that landed Columbus a bevy of players including current centerman Brandon Dubinsky. Holden played three years with Colorado after leaving Columbus and is now in year No. 2 with the Broadway Blueshirts after a trade in the summer of 2016.

Ottawa Senators: One-time CBJ first-round pick Derick Brassard (2008-13) continues his NHL career with the Sens. Brassard and Moore highlighted a deal with New York for Gaborik in April 2013, but the Rangers dealt Brassard to the Senators in July 2016.

Philadelphia Flyers: The ill-fated Carter trade for Columbus sent first-round pick Jakub Voracek (2008-11) to the City of Brotherly Love, where he broke out as a consistent scorer up front. Voracek is now in his seventh full season in orange.

St. Louis Blues: Forward Scottie Upshall (remember him?), now 34, is in his 15th NHL season. Upshall played 21 games as the Blue Jackets tried to make a playoff push in 2011 then hit the free-agent market. He played four seasons in Florida and is now in his third in St. Louis.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Who knew just how good Anton Stralman would turn out to be when the Swedish defenseman played two seasons with Columbus (2009-11)? He left the team in free agency and spent three years in New York with the Rangers before becoming an All-Star in Tampa Bay, where he is now in his fourth season.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Two former Blue Jackets have joined one of the league's marquee franchises this year. Goaltender Curtis McElhinney (2013-17) was claimed on waivers in January and now backs up Frederik Andersen. Ron Hainsey (2005-08), fresh off his first playoff appearance and a Stanley Cup win in Pittsburgh, signed with Toronto's blue line this offseason at age 36. Toronto also owns the contract of Nathan Horton, a forward who is not expected to play again because of a back injury.

Vancouver Canucks: I must admit to losing track of pugnacious forward Derek Dorsett (2008-13), but he remains in Vancouver, where he was joined this offseason by fellow forward Sam Gagner. Now 30, Dorsett went to the Rangers in the Brassard deal in April 2013 then was traded to Vancouver at the 2014 draft. Gagner turned his lone 18-goal, 50-point season in Columbus this past year into a deal with the Canucks.

Vegas Golden Knights: Of course the NHL's newest team is on this list after having to take a player from each team in the expansion draft. That, of course, was center William Karlsson, who spent the past two-plus seasons with Columbus. He's joined in Sin City by forward Jon Marchessault, who has dropped the "Audy" since a two-game cameo with Columbus in 2013. He first moved on to Tampa Bay and then had a breakout season last year with Florida before heading to the Golden Knights in the expansion draft. The Golden Knights also own the contract of David Clarkson, whose career appears over because of a back injury.

Winnipeg Jets: One of the most polarizing players in Jackets history signed with Winnipeg this offseason. Of course, we mean goaltender Steve Mason, whose turbulent four-plus season Jackets career (2008-13) ended with a trade to Philadelphia in April 2013. Mason also had his ups and downs in Philadelphia before signing with the Jets this offseason. He is joined there by Marko Dano, a 2013 CBJ first-round pick who impressed with the Jackets in 35 games in 2014-15 before being part of the original Saad deal. He has struggled to gain a foothold both with the Blackhawks and the Jets, to whom he was traded at the 2016 trade deadline.

Ticker: Three other Ohio State products began the season on NHL rosters along with Columbus' Zac Dalpe. Forward Ryan Dzingel is on the Senators while defenseman Matt Barkowski made the Calgary Flames. Veteran forward Ryan Kesler is on Anaheim's roster but is out for a couple of months this year thanks to a hip injury. ... Central Ohio native Sean Kuraly made Boston's roster, while defenseman Connor Murphy made Chicago's team. Fellow central Ohioan Jack Roslovic did not make the Jets' roster and began the season with Manitoba of the AHL. ... Jesse Puljijarvi, the Finnish winger many expected the Blue Jackets to take in the first round of the 2016 draft instead of Pierre-Luc Dubois, did not make Edmonton's squad and began the season with Bakersfield of the AHL.