You can add one more player to the "arrived" list today, and that's Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson.
After a summer of training at his home in Ann Arbor, Mich., Johnson is back in Columbus and gearing up for the upcoming season - albeit a bit ahead of schedule. He bumped up his arrival a few days so he could spend as much time as possible skating with the team.
He made his first appearance at the informal player practices this morning at the OhioHealth Ice Haus, joining a group that's in less need of "fill-in" players as the days progress.
Once he was on the ice with the group, it was old hat for the 25-year-old blueliner. Johnson jumped right into the fray with usual defense partner James Wisniewski, and just like that, "controlled chaos" had been reborn.
The pair looked good together, too; it seemed like yesterday when they were fluidly moving the puck around on the Blue Jackets' power play unit, which was rather productive over the final 30 games of the season. Johnson also took some shifts with veteran Adrian Aucoin, with Johnson playing the left side and Aucoin the right.
With Aucoin's wicked one-timer, it could give Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards to the option to use two point-man pairings on the power play. How would you feel about Johnson-Aucoin on one pair, and Nikitin-Wisniewski on the other?
That's four big shots on the back end that can create offense and stabilize the man advantage. I like it.
Other notes from today's skate:
-- Sergei Bobrovsky took part in the early portion of the practice, and used it to break in his new Reebok catching glove and blocker. The new CBJ-themed leg pads stayed in storage today. If you haven't seen the pictures, check them out at @BlueJacketsNHL. They're pretty sharp.
-- Tomas Kubalik has also arrived and practiced today. After spending some time with the Blue Jackets last season, he's going to have a chance to become a full-time NHLer in the very near future, perhaps as soon as 2012-13. He's got the frame and the skills, just needs to put the whole package together.
-- Kubalik also switched from No. 33 to No. 28 this year, a move facilitated out of respect for Aucoin. The veteran has has worn No. 33 for most of (if not all) his NHL career.
-- Two notables who have stood out in the informal skates: Cam Atkinson and John Moore. Both with enormous opportunities this season, and both had terrific summers preparing for training camp.
-- Sure, he's been around a few years, but Aucoin is very good at what scouts call "moving the puck with a purpose." His first pass has as a clear-cut destination, and it's usually right on the tape of his forwards. It's something young defensemen struggle with at times as they make the adjustment to the faster pace of the NHL level.
-- A decent number of Blue Jackets players are headed to New York City for the NHLPA executive board and negotiating committee meetings on Wednesday and Thursday. I'd peg the number somewhere between 10-15, based on what I've heard.
-- Derick Brassard added that the NHLPA expects around 300 players in total for the meetings.