Blue Jackets make final wave of roster moves
After a great day yesterday at Double Eagle for the Blue Jackets Foundation Golf Classic, the Blue Jackets got right back to work this morning at Nationwide Arena.
They skated for roughly 45 minutes, working on a few systematic aspects of their game before wrapping up with a half-ice three-on-three game (which is always really entertaining to watch, but can't be fun if you're a goalie).
A good sign for the Blue Jackets was Curtis McElhinney's return to practice about missing roughly a week's time with a lower body injury. He participated in the full skate, looked pretty sharp and with a day off Sunday, should be back on the ice for Monday's practice.
The big news today were the cuts: Todd Richards confirmed after practice that the team has made its last wave of pre-opening night roster moves.
These players were assigned to Springfield (AHL): Jack Skille, Cody Goloubef, Michael Chaput, Ryan Craig, Jeremy Smith, Mike McKenna, Will Weber and Ilari Melart. Five of those players (Skille, Goloubef, Smith, Craig, McKenna) must clear waivers in order to be assigned. They were placed on waivers as of noon ET on Saturday, and the Blue Jackets will know on Sunday whether they have cleared.
What does that mean, then?
It means the Blue Jackets expect to have a mostly-healthy roster on opening night. Jared Boll is getting closer but isn't quite ready to be cleared, Richards said, and Derek MacKenzie is on track to be ready on opening night.
Cam Atkinson, Matt Calvert, Nikita Nikitin (illness), Marian Gaborik (family reasons) and Artem Anisimov did not practice on Saturday, but aside from Gaborik and Nikitin all absences are considered maintenance for minor injuries.
- Richards said he plans on opening the season with Jenner on the left wing of Dubinsky and Gaborik. "I'd be foolish not to," he said, "and that's just based on their play."
- Ryan Murray made the team (as did Jenner), but Richards made it clear that they've made the team out of camp. Nothing is guaranteed going forward and they will dictate, with their performance, how long they stay in Columbus. Both players are eligible to be assigned to Springfield.
- With both goalies on waivers, the team fully expects McElhinney to be ready for opening night. But if he's not, the Blue Jackets know they have two solid options and players who had impressive showings in training camp.
- Tim Erixon and David Savard made the cut as the final two defensemen on the roster. At the moment, the defense pairs look to be: Tyutin-Johnson, Murray-Wisniewski, Nikitin-Prout. Richards said Savard earned himself a spot on the roster based on his solid play in training camp.
- We'll have an eye on the waiver wire as the deadline approaches. Skille was noticeable in training camp and played well in the preseason games, but it comes down to a numbers game in these situations. Right now, there just wasn't a spot for him. If he clears and heads to Springfield, the Blue Jackets have another option available at the ready if they need a forward.
More coming throughout the weekend.