Blue Jackets opening night roster setOctober 4, 2006
As reported in yesterday’s Columbus Dispatch, the final cuts have been made and the roster is set for the start of the season. I speculated throughout the summer as to the configuration of lines, and the coaching staff has finally gotten around to solidifying things.
Nash – Hartigan – Vyborny
Modin – Platt – Carter
Chimera – Malhotra – Fritsche
Shelley – Brule – Balastik
Foote – Hainsey
Westcott – Johnson
Eriksson – Tollefson
Leclaire – Norrena
Picard, Zherdev (due to report on Thursday)
(Edit 10/4/06 PM: Picard has been sent down to Syracuse tonight. So will we have a healthy scratch forward Friday/Saturday, or are we going without?)
Fedorov – Svitov – Berard
Klesla (two games)
Brief analysis of what’s new (or rather, unexpected)
The forward lines fell together with the only surprises being as a result of the injuries through the center position.
Mark Hartigan is getting his shot on a scoring line, centering one of the premier offensive talents the game has in Rick Nash. We all know that he’s only playing here because of injuries, but Lou Gherig only got his chance because of injuries as well.
Geoff Platt made the club out of camp after seeing 15 games of NHL action in a mid-season call-up last year. Yet to score his first NHL goal, Platt netted 30 goals in 66 games for AHL-affiliate Syracuse last year. His early season time with veterans Modin and Carter on a scoring line should help both his confidence and his output. If he can produce in the first three weeks like he did in the pre-season (no guarantees there), look for Platt to turn this into his first full NHL season.
Celebrated rookie Gilbert Brule, after being the strongest player in camp a year ago, has been “demoted” to fourth line duty with Jody Shelley and Jaroslav Balastik. While improved in his own end, Brule did not have a part in any preseason goals. Coach Gerard Gallant expressed to the Calder candidate that he should keep his spirits up, the team is still behind him and believes in him.
“It’s just a matter of time. If he sticks with it and keeps playing hard, it’s going to happen”
I can’t wait to see Jes Golbez over at Hockey Rants moaning that not only are two of his favorite players (Brule and Balastik) “stuck” on the “Dinner Jackets,” but they’ve also been demoted to the fourth line. In actuality, I’m a little excited for our fourth line. Shelley and Brule can provide for some bruising play, and Balastik should team up with the rookie to provide better than average scoring from a bottom line.
Ole-Kristian Tollefsen will also start the season up with the big club for the first time in his career. A wrecking ball on skates, Tollefsen is most noted in the Blue Jackets community for freight train-ing Geoff Sanderson in a training camp scrimmage a few years back. We saw O.K. in Columbus for five games in 2005-06. He’ll likely be either the 7th defenseman or on the train to Syracuse when Klesla’s suspension is up.
Lastly, goaltender Fredrik Norrena will be making his NHL debut at some time in the next few weeks as he makes the squad. An article in today’s Dispatch gives Blue Jacket fans a little more information on the oldest rookie in the NHL.
It will be interesting to see how things shake out. I, for one, can’t wait.