Yegor Chinakhov Set To Make NHL Debut; Joonas Korpisalo Gets First Start Of The Season

By Jacob Nitzberg on October 19, 2021 at 2:48 pm
Jan 18, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo (70) makes a save in front of Detroit Red Wings center Michael Rasmussen (27) during the second period at Little Caesars Arena.
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

It's been 378 days since the Blue Jackets drafted Yegor Chinakhov 21st overall in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.

At the time, the pick shocked many across the hockey world. Then, Chinakhov won KHL Rookie of the Year, signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Blue Jackets, and made the team out of training camp. 

Now, there aren't so many people asking who he is. 

Chinakhov was a healthy scratch in the Blue Jackets' first game of the season, an 8-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Before the club's second game, the Russian winger was assigned to AHL Cleveland, as head coach Brad Larsen held true to his promise of getting Chinakhov some playing time, no matter what level. 

In his first game with the Monsters, he promptly scored a goal. Then, in Columbus, Max Domi was placed on injured reserve with a fractured rib. Domi's expected to miss two-to-four weeks and had tallied 1-3-4 in two games before the injury. The Blue Jackets called Chinakhov back up, and he'll be in the lineup tonight against the Detroit Red Wings.

"I won't give you my lines now, but (Chinakhov)'s going to get a good look tonight," said Larsen Tuesday morning.

The projected lines tonight are in, and if they hold true, the Blue Jackets will have one of the youngest lines in the NHL: Alexandre Texier (22), Cole Sillinger (18), and Chinakhov (20) are slated to play together. 

"I think (Chinakhov)'s plugged into what we're doing," said Larsen. "He thinks the game really well. Everyone talks about his shot. His shot's great, he's got great legs. I think it's more his details (that are impressive), and that's what going to build trust and get him more ice time...I'm not hesitant putting him in. I'm excited to see what he does tonight."

Domi To IR

Just as Domi was starting to play his best hockey in a Blue Jackets sweater, the injury bug bit him again. 

"You gotta battle through this stuff," said Larsen. "He worked so hard to get back, and you know, what do you say? It's another challenge for him, and he's up for it. It's frustrating, but what's done is done. Just have to deal with what's in front of us...I know he'll put the work in to try and get back and heal up, and hopefully, he's back sooner rather than later."

"You could tell his legs were there. He's an energized player and I'm sure having the first game he did, that really helped...even last game, he finished the game hurt and played through and he had some chances in the third. Kudos to him for getting through that because that's not an easy thing to do."

Korpisalo To Make Season Debut

Elvis Merzlikins got the first two games in net, and he's performed quite well, notching a 1.47 GAA and .947 save percentage. However, Korpisalo is in to make his season debut tonight against the Red Wings.

In his career, Korpisalo is 5-0 against the Red Wings. Will he improve to 6-0 tonight?