The team will lean on veterans as the young Columbus Blue Jackets look to take another step toward contention. A promising sign for the organization is that young players stepped in and up in training camp and preseason games. So what exactly did we learn about the Blue Jackets? Let’s dive in.
Armed with a few veteran defensemen, the Blue Jackets will need young players to take the next step in development. Adam Boqvist had a very good preseason and was bumped to the top pair with Zach Werenski, as the two look likely to be paired on opening night. Andrew Peeke and Vladislav Gavrikov look like a solid second pairing, but then it gets dicey. Free agent signee Erik Gudbranson is a lock for the third pair. Jake Bean struggled to find his game, and rookie David Jiricek will either head to Cleveland with the Monsters or the fourth line. That leaves Nick Blankenburg as a possible linemate with Gudbranson.
The Blue Jackets’ top-line features Patrik Laine, Boone Jenner, Johnny Gaudreau, Werenski, and Boqvist. That group looks the part of a top line. The top line was electric in preseason games and is a lock to give opposing teams fits. He is a player who struggled last season, and it looks like he has figured things out in Yegor Chinakov. Chinakov has very good speed and is a pure scorer. Chinakov led the Blue Jackets with six preseason goals and looked very good in the defensive end. The team needs better defense from many forwards who were nearly nonexistent last season.
The Blue Jackets top power play line looks like they will do some damage, as that line will feature Gaudreau, Laine, Werenski, and Jakub Voracek. The second line will also be capable, with Jack Roslavic, Gustav Nyquist, Cole Sillinger, and others.
For a team needing young players to step up, the Blue Jackets saw some do just that. After the top two lines, the defense gets dicey, and that is something to keep an eye on as the regular season kicks off. With the first three games against the Carolina Hurricanes, Tampa Bay Lightning, and St. Louis Blues, the young Blue Jackets will be tested right out of the gate. How they respond will set the tone moving forward.