After a horrifically long offseason, hockey is back!
The Columbus Blue Jackets opened training camp much to the excitement of the fans, as well as the players.
From the moment that the Blue Jackets acquired Brandon Saad, there has been near constant speculation of the structure of the team’s forward combinations.
Aaron Portzline tweeted out his educated guess of the forward lines before camp started.
F1: Saad – Johansen – Folignos F2: Jenner – Dubinsky – Clarkson F3: Hartnell – Wennberg – Atkinson F4: Calvert – Campbell – Boll/Bourque
— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) September 16, 2015
This prediction was pretty close, with a couple of semi-notable differences.
Obviously the lines on the first day of camp won’t necessarily be the lines on the first day of the season. But it does give us a glimpse into the mindset of the coaching staff.
Coach Thornberry’s Lines (That’s me, by the way)
I would personally like to see a setup like this:
Brandon Saad – Ryan Johansen – Cam Atkinson
Saad and Johansen are a given, and there is no debating that.
Atkinson’s skill set complements that of Saad and Johansen better than any other possible linemates. It just makes sense.
Boone Jenner – Brandon Dubinsky – Nick Foligno
This trio would be one of the hardest lines to play against in the league. A combination of skill and passionate play would make this a really fun group to watch.
Scott Hartnell – Alexander Wennberg – David Clarkson
I love two-thirds of this line.
Hartnell and Wennberg had success together last year, and are a perfect combination of experience and youth. I expect big things from Wennberg this year.
Clarkson is a big unknown. He has the potential to be a strong third-line player, or be a huge, and expensive bust.
If Clarkson struggles, I wouldn’t be opposed to moving Matt Calvert to the right side on Wennberg’s wing.
Matt Calvert – Gregory Campbell – Rene Bourque / Jared Boll
Matt Calvert will be the bright spot on this line with his hard work and potential.
Campbell and Bourque draw a strong “meh” reaction from me, but hey, it’s the fourth line.
Jared Boll deserves time here simply because he is Jared Boll.
The Immediate and Not-So-Distant Future
The Blue Jackets showed us a glimpse of the future with Sonny Milano, William Karlsson, and Oliver Bjorkstrand skating together. This team has good talent waiting for their opportunity to add to their already stacked forward depth.
Johansen and Saad could be the next Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. This pairing should have every fan of the game excited.
A possible breakout year from Boone Jenner while playing alongside a healthy Brandon Dubinsky has me every bit as excited as Johansen and Saad.
The emergence of Alexander Wennberg and the growth of Matt Calvert are also big reasons to be excited.
It is a good time to be a Columbus Blue Jackets fan.
Until next time.
Greg is a Pittsburgh Penguins writer for ‘The Hockey Writers’.
He is a Pittsburgh area native who has written for multiple Penguins news and opinion sites. In addition to hockey writing, he is also an experienced YouTube creator.
Greg started with THW in 2015 as a Blue Jackets writer, and spent time as a Fantasy Hockey analyst.