3 Takeaways From the Blue Jackets’ 2022-23 Opening Night Roster

Opening day has come and gone, and one of the most important questions that lingered through the offseason has been answered: who will be on the team’s 23-man roster on Oct. 12? While it was set a few days ago, let’s take a look at who made the cut and who didn’t when the puck was dropped against the Carolina Hurricanes. Then after that, we’ll have some takeaways to discuss.

Who Made the Blue Jackets’ Roster?

Twenty-three players were on the Blue Jackets roster come puck drop in Raleigh. It’s a list that included 13 forwards, seven defensemen, and three goalies.

Forwards

  • 7 – Sean Kuraly
  • 13 – Johnny Gaudreau
  • 14 – Gustav Nyquist
  • 17 – Justin Danforth
  • 19 – Liam Foudy
  • 24 – Mathieu Olivier
  • 29 – Patrik Laine
  • 34 – Cole Sillinger
  • 38 – Boone Jenner
  • 50 – Eric Robinson
  • 59 – Yegor Chinakhov
  • 93 – Jakub Voracek
  • 96 – Jack Roslovic

Defense

  • 2 – Andrew Peeke
  • 4 – Vladislav Gavrikov
  • 8 – Zach Werenski
  • 22 – Jake Bean
  • 27 – Adam Boqvist
  • 44 – Erik Gudbranson
  • 77 – Nick Blankenburg

Goaltenders

  • 40 – Daniil Tarasov
  • 73 – Jet Greaves
  • 90 – Elvis Merzlikins

Biggest Surprise Miss – Kirill Marchenko

Now, I know what you’re thinking. What about Kent Johnson? Yes, while he was also absent from the opening night roster because of a gameday demotion, I wouldn’t put too much weight into it. It was caused by an illness affecting goalie Elvis Merzlikins, which meant someone had to be sent down so the Jackets could call up a backup goalie in Jet Greaves. Johnson was one of a few players who were exempt from waivers and hasn’t yet played in the American Hockey League (AHL), so a few games in Cleveland will be good experience for him. Without the illness, Johnson is in that lineup – so he doesn’t count as a miss to me.

Kirill Marchenko Columbus Blue Jackets
Kirill Marchenko, Columbus Blue Jackets (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Kirill Marchenko, on the other hand, did not make the team on merit which is a surprise to me, as he was one of the better young players in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) over the last few seasons. He is a skilled forward who has been touted as a top prospect since he was drafted in the second round in 2018.

In his first season in North America, general manager Jarmo Kekalainen and company clearly believe it’s more valuable for Marchenko to start by playing big minutes in the AHL than contributing in a depth role in the NHL. One would hope sending him to the AHL is successful – however, there has been a history of young Russian talents not handling demotions very well, as seen in players like Valeri Nichushkin, Vadim Shipachyov, and Nikita Filatov.

Biggest Surprise Make – Liam Foudy

Liam Foudy has seemingly been around forever but has never been able to crack the team on a full-time basis. While he will likely be a healthy scratch for the first little bit of the season, it does bode well that he is playing with the big club again. Another pick from the 2018 Draft, he has had flashes of brilliance but has not quite stuck in Columbus – mainly because of injuries.

Just after signing a contract, Foudy had a strong performance in the playoff bubble in 2020 against the Toronto Maple Leafs. However that was an entirely different era for the Blue Jackets, and he hasn’t been able to find his footing since then. Last year, he only dressed for one NHL game and spent the rest in the AHL. Although, if he wasn’t sidelined with an injury he certainly would have dressed for more games in Columbus.

Related: 3 Blue Jackets Who Need to Prove Themselves in 2022-23

To me, this is a surprise. I thought that Foudy would have a chance to skate in some NHL games but ultimately expected him to start in Cleveland. Staying in Columbus out of training camp is big for the speedy forward. Now we will wonder if injuries continue to hamper his young career or if this is the year he manages to live up to his draft potential and become a regular in the world’s top league.

Goalie Depth is Already Being Tested

The aforementioned illness to Merzlikins and continued injury to Joonas Korpisalo has put the Jackets two men down in net. The goalie position was a big question mark for the team heading into the season and it is being tested early on. While this is not ideal, it’s given a great opportunity to goalie of the future, Tarasov, to start some games and impress early on.

Daniil Tarasov Columbus Blue Jackets
Daniil Tarasov, Columbus Blue Jackets (Photo by Emilee Chinn/NHLI via Getty Images)

If Tarasov proves to be a capable NHL netminder – which is more than likely – then the current backup, Korpisalo, becomes more expendable. The writing was on the wall for him to be on his way out of Columbus since Merzlikins signed his massive extension last offseason. Injuries kept him from being shipped away at the last trade deadline, but should he finally get healthy and stay that way, finding a suitor shouldn’t be hard this time around.

The future in net is secure with Merzlikins, Tarasov, Greaves, and even new signee Nolan Lalonde. Thanks to some injuries and illness, Jackets’ management will have a better opportunity to see how far away that future really is.

There was a lot to take away from the Blue Jackets’ opening night roster and while their first game didn’t go as hoped against the powerhouse Hurricanes, they did show some potential early on. This year is going to be a fascinating one to watch.


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