While the Ottawa Senators are starting their season with a host of young players, they’ll be happy to know they won’t be the only ones to do that this year.
The Columbus Blue Jackets will be starting their season getting a look at four young players as well after the team went through their last round of cuts. Among those joining the team are 2009 first round pick forward Ryan Johansen, former Boston College standout Cam Atkinson, Russian speedster Maksim Mayorov and training camp surprise David Savard.
The two most exciting guys in this bunch are Johansen and Atkinson. For Johansen, he’ll get nine games to prove that he can stick on Columbus’ roster or else he’s heading back to the WHL in juniors. Atkinson is getting a shot to prove he can cut it in the NHL and avoid being fished out back to the AHL in Springfield.
Johansen and Atkinson have the offensive abilities to help the Blue Jackets become a better scoring team, the key for them is getting the minutes and opportunities to do so. With Kristian Huselius starting the year on IR and the Jackets having limited resources for guys that can score, Johansen and Atkinson could just be the guys making their hopes for the postseason coming true.
Another injury is helping keep spots open at forward for the likes of Mayorov as Jared Boll will start the year on IR with a broken thumb. Boll will be out 4-6 weeks with the injury and while Boll provides toughness, injecting more speed and offense to the lineup is a good thing for Columbus.
As for David Savard, the Blue Jackets being a bit thin on the blue line (thinner with James Wisniewski missing the first eight games with a suspension) giving him a shot to stick around is a shot worth taking for both GM Scott Howson and coach Scott Arniel. While guys like Fedor Tyutin, Marc Methot, Kris Russell, Grant Clitsome, and Radek Martinek are likely there to stay Savard and Aaron Johnson will battle it out to see who can stay in the NHL. They’ll get eight games to do just that.
Much like in Ottawa, these moves aren’t permanent invites to stay in the NHL and it’s up to those players to prove they belong and can be productive NHL players. Guys like Atkinson and Johansen are likely going to get every opportunity to do just that. If the goals come in bunches, they’ll be there to stay as the Blue Jackets try to get back to the playoffs.