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Who are these guys? Get to know the 41 Blue Jackets in camp

The Blue Jackets roster is ready to go heading into the start of preseason practices

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider /

From Angle (Tyler) to Werenski (Zach), Max (Domi) to Mini (Nathan Gerbe), hailing from New Albany (Kole Sherwood) to New Jersey (Eric Robinson), the Blue Jackets are in Columbus and getting ready to start training camp. 

Physicals will take place tomorrow, the first day teams can formally gather, before players hit the ice for the first time Monday morning. 

So, as we ask each year at this time -- who are these guys? 

We asked that question a year ago when 59 players from across the world came to Columbus for camp. This year, we have just 41 bios to go through, thanks to the late start and the global pandemic.  

To recap: 23 of these 41 players can make the opening night roster for the Jan. 14 start at Nashville, while four to six more will comprise a taxi squad that can practice with the team and allow for pandemic-friendly transactions throughout the season.  

From players who have skated in 1,028 NHL games (Mikko Koivu) to those yet to see pro ice, the Blue Jackets will be looking at this group of players ahead of the season. 

Forwards (24) 

39 Tyler Angle (20 years old as of opening night, 5-10, 172): Angle reports to his second camp in Columbus after being taken in the seventh round of the 2019 draft. He had a breakout season last year in his fourth campaign in the OHL, posting a 29-38-67 line in 62 games to tie for the Windsor Spitfires team lead in scoring. A two-way forward with some feistiness to his game, Angle hasn't played competitive hockey since the shutdown in March and is still likely a few years away from his CBJ debut. 

13 Cam Atkinson (31, 5-8, 175): It goes to show you how young the NHL is now that Atkinson is considered an old hand at 31 years old, but the CBJ veteran is looking for a bounce-back campaign going into year No. 10 in union blue. The 2019-20 season was full of frustration for the team's No. 2 all-time goal scorer (198 career goals), as thanks to a slow start and then a high ankle sprain, Atkinson finished with a 12-14-26 line in 42 games. It was his lowest goal-scoring output since 2012-13, but after a solid playoff showing, Atkinson is looking forward to getting back on the ice. 

52 Emil Bemstrom (21, 6-0, 190): Bemstrom was a highly touted 20-year-old rookie a season ago after leading the Swedish Hockey League in goal scoring the year prior, but he needed some time to adjust to the NHL level. While also battling injury -- that will be a common theme here -- he finished with 10 goals and 20 points in 56 games. Bemstrom has an elite one-timer and after impressing in Finland this fall (8-9-17 in 16 games), he could be due for a big jump in offensive production, particularly on the power play. 

28 Oliver Bjorkstrand (25, 6-0, 177): One of the NHL's hidden gems, Bjorkstrand came into his own a year ago, producing a team-best 21 goals and 36 points despite a pair of injuries that limited him to 49 games. Blessed with a wicked wrist shot, Bjorkstrand added a bulldog's mentality on the puck a season ago to push him what was a 35-goal pace over 82 games, not to mention excellent underlying defensive metrics. If he even maintains the level he was at by February of last season let alone improves upon it, he'll be fun to watch. 

29 Zac Dalpe (31, 6-2, 197): The veteran center from Ohio State has come into his own as an AHL player the past two seasons, totaling 40 goals in 73 games over that span. Unfortunately, Dalpe has had injury troubles of his own, as he was limited to just 18 games a season ago. With the Blue Jackets not lacking for depth forwards, he seems likely to spend the year in the AHL and could captain the Monsters if they begin play Feb. 5 as hoped, but Dalpe is always a good guy to have around.  

16 Max Domi (25, 5-10, 192): The Blue Jackets' biggest offseason acquisition will be counted on to bring offense. The creative forward was added to shore up the top six, and he likely has motivation that stretches beyond trying to impress a new team as the son of former NHL enforcer Tie Domi saw his production fall from a career-high 72 points in 2018-19 to 44 in last year's shortened season. Domi's ability to consistently drive offense and possess the puck should add a new element to the CBJ attack, and the hope is he'll help improve the power-play as well.  

18 Pierre-Luc Dubois (22, 6-3, 218): Dubois inked a new two-year deal Friday to ensure his participation in training camp, an early 2021 present for Blue Jackets fans. He's been the team's No. 1 center each of the past two seasons, including an 18-31-49 line a year ago that allowed the third-year pro to lead the team in scoring. He's a physical bear in the offensive zone, has tremendous strength going to the net and adds the skill to score 30 goals in a full season as he matures. After a strong postseason showing last year, Dubois will be a key part of the top six and combine with Domi to give the team strength up the middle.  

64 Trey Fix-Wolansky (21, 5-7, 178): One can only imagine the frustration Fix-Wolansky had as after a 102-point season with Edmonton of the WHL in 2018-19, he got only four games into last season with Cleveland before a groin injury cost him two months. He showed his obvious offensive abilities after his return, finishing with a 12-14-26 line in 43 games with the Monsters at age 20. Fix-Wolansky is competitive as can be and can score, making him a player to watch for the CBJ future, but he'd have to beat out a lot of guys to earn a spot this year. 

71 Nick Foligno (33, 6-0, 208): The captain needs no introduction, but we'll give him one here. The longtime Blue Jackets forward has always been able to do it all, and head coach John Tortorella leaned on him quite a bit last year. Foligno finished with 10 goals and 31 points in 67 games and was as good as ever defensively while playing just about everywhere in the lineup. Expect a similar showing this year, and Foligno enters his ninth year with the team third all-time in goals for a Blue Jacket with 135.  

19 Liam Foudy (20, 6-2, 182): Foudy is coming off a year to remember, dominating the OHL (68 points in 45 games), earning a gold medal with Team Canada at the World Juniors and then suiting up for all 10 CBJ playoff games. The young speedster and 2018 first-round pick didn't look out of place in those series vs. Toronto and Tampa Bay a year ago, but where he fits into the current lineup remains to be seen. He'll likely be a center eventually but the Jackets are largely set there this year; there are also plenty of wing options, but it's quite possible and maybe even likely Foudy pushes his way into a regular role despite his youth. 

24 Nathan Gerbe (33, 5-4, 169): The shortest skater in modern NHL history returned to the league a season ago, providing the Blue Jackets a jolt of energy at midseason with his never-back-down persona, professionalism and enthusiasm in a locker room filled with youngsters and call-ups. There's no better person to have in the locker room, but the veteran will be in a similar position this camp as he was last year, as he'll have to outperform a bevy of youngsters to earn a shot to join the lineup.  

25 Mikhail Grigorenko (26, 6-3, 209): Grigorenko was signed to add some size and skill to the CBJ lineup after the 2012 first-round pick impressed back in the KHL, as he was nearly a point-per-game player in his native Russia the last two years (19-22-41 in 47 games last year with CSKA Moscow). He could help in a variety of ways, including on the power play, and one of the big questions of training camp is where Grigorenko will fit into the CBJ lineup come opening night.  

38 Boone Jenner (27, 6-2, 208): The alternate captain enters his eighth NHL season in a bit of a new role, as the offseason acquisitions of Domi and Koivu will allow Jenner to move from center to wing after he spent the last two seasons as a pivot. The hope is that will unleash Jenner's tenacious forechecking abilities and allow him to produce more offensively as well, as Jenner is coming off a year in which he had 11-13-24 in 70 games, the lowest output of his career when it comes to points per game. He'll likely start on the third line and kill penalties.  

9 Mikko Koivu (37, 6-3, 213): The veteran has come to Columbus for what appears to be a one-year conclusion to his NHL career, and Koivu is projected to center a CBJ checking line. Coming off a knee injury a year ago Koivu saw his offensive output sink -- he finished with four goals and 21 points in 55 games -- but he remained one of the best defensive centers in the NHL. The oldest player in camp fills a need for a shutdown pivot and should be a nice addition.  

49 Ryan MacInnis (24, 6-4, 200): Called up from Cleveland as injuries piled up a year ago, MacInnis expertly filled a checking line role, using his size and playing a simple, straight-ahead game to impress Tortorella. He finished with 30 points in 45 AHL games but just a single assist in 10 contests at the NHL level. MacInnis is still young, but it's hard to imagine him being more than a depth player, though a competent one at that. 

23 Stefan Matteau (26, 6-2, 220): Matteau profiles pretty similarly as MacInnis, as a possible bottom-six forward with size who is the son of a former NHL player. He also had comparable numbers as MacInnis last year, posting a 2-1-3 line in nine NHL games after 28 points in 50 AHL games a year ago. A former first-round pick, he's a little more versatile and will battle for a spot at the NHL level this year after his cameo a season ago. 

20 Riley Nash (31, 6-2, 185): After a rough first season in Columbus in 2018-19, Nash was a dependable center for the Blue Jackets last year, posting some of the best defensive numbers in the NHL for a forward while notching five goals and nine assists in 64 games. Perhaps more importantly, he was a steady presence while often surrounded by rookies, and he should again fill a bottom-six spot at either center or wing.  

14 Gustav Nyquist (31, 5-11, 179): The veteran Swedish winger had shoulder surgery this fall and is expected to be out until at least April, which is a loss considering he delivered exactly what was promised a year ago as a dependable second-line winger with scoring touch. A versatile player who was underrated at battling for pucks, Nyquist was second on the squad last year with 42 points (15 goals, 27 assists). He'll be missed while he's gone.  

63 Cliff Pu (22, 6-2, 185): Acquired from Florida in exchange for Markus Nutivaara, Pu is a depth forward who has been on the move quite a bit so far in his NHL career. A high-scoring forward in his junior days with the London Knights, Pu was previously part of a deal that sent him from Buffalo to Carolina in the Jeff Skinner trade. He's split the past two seasons between the AHL and ECHL and will likely end up in Cleveland this year. 

50 Eric Robinson (25, 6-2, 197): Robinson became a regular a season ago, earning his shot because of injuries but staying in the lineup because of his play. Robinson used elite speed -- and we do mean elite -- and a sneaky good shot to post a 7-5-12 line in 50 games, mostly as a fourth liner. If his hands catch up to his feet, he can move up the lineup, but even in a bottom-six role he's a fun player to watch and could be a regular yet again.  

67 Justin Scott (25, 6-1, 194): Scott has become an old Cleveland standby the past four years, skating in 242 AHL games with the Monsters and posting a 38-42-80 line. The Ontario native was called up once last season but didn't get into action before being returned to Cleveland. Scott is under contract with the Monsters and will likely spend the campaign there. 

88 Kole Sherwood (23, 6-1, 212): The first-ever central Ohio product to skate for the Blue Jackets, Sherwood has earned only a pair of cups of coffee the past two seasons, playing in two games in 2018-19 and then three last year before an oblique injury hit. Sherwood finished with 10 goals in 43 AHL games and will have to compete for a spot on the roster this year. He hasn't looked out of place at the NHL level -- he's big, fast and physical, so there's potential there -- but is still looking to make an offensive impact and notch his first point. 

11 Kevin Stenlund (24, 6-4, 209): Stenlund is another player who earned time a year ago because of injury and then showed he deserved to be on NHL ice, using a big shot to post a 6-4-10 line including a trio of power-play goals in 32 games with Columbus. He can play both center and wing and is capable of turning in impressive stretches, but consistency and skating are the two things he needs to work on. He's right on the borderline of a roster spot this year coming into camp.   

42 Alexandre Texier (21, 6-1, 192): It's felt for a while like Texier is close to a breakout. The Frenchman showed well late in the 2018-19 season and playoffs, had nine points in his last 13 games before an injury last year, then looked good in the postseason a year ago despite finishing without a goal. Still just 21, the 2017 second-round pick has a bright future, but if he takes a step this year, it would be hugely helpful to a CBJ team that might need him to not just fill a top-six role right away but produce in one. 

Defensemen (13) 

43 Gavin Bayreuther (26, 6-1, 195): Signed from the Dallas organization to provide depth, Bayreuther has skated in 19 career NHL games, all in 2018-19 when he had a 2-3-5 line. The St. Lawrence University product has shown some offensive abilities at the AHL level and will be among those battling for a spot in the lineup, but more than likely he'll be a Monster who can fill in at the NHL level at a moment's notice if need be. 

53 Gabriel Carlsson (24, 6-5, 192): Carlsson turns 24 today, and it's easy to forget he's so young given the fact he arrived late in the 2016-17 season from Sweden. He suited up in the playoffs that year but since then has just 21 NHL games under his belt, with two assists in that time. Tortorella seemed to like his game a year ago and cautioned not to give up on the 2015 first-round pick; Carlsson will never be an offensive guy but he's solid in his own zone and seems to be getting better with experience.  

6 Adam Clendening (28, 6-0, 189): There's little question Clendening is a point producer at the AHL level; after 37 points in 45 games in 2018-19, he had 41 more in 55 contests a year ago. He's just not been able to stick in the NHL, as Clendening has 90 games with seven different teams over five seasons. Yet again he'll be in the battle to earn time, but the CBJ's depth on the blue line has never been friendly to Clendening.  

32 Jake Christiansen (21, 6-1, 194): Christiansen was signed by the Blue Jackets in March after a tremendous campaign at the WHL level, as he racked up 22 goals and 28 assists for 50 points in 38 games to lead all league blueliners in tallies. That certainly makes him an intriguing prospect, and he'll likely spend this year in Cleveland learning the pro game, though he does have some familiarity -- he skated in nine games with Stockton of the AHL a year ago.  

15 Michael Del Zotto (30, 6-0, 195): A veteran of six NHL teams and 11 NHL seasons, Del Zotto was signed to a tryout offer and invited to camp. He played under Tortorella in New York previously and seems like a worthy candidate to take a flier on, as Del Zotto had a 2-13-15 line and was plus-5 in 49 games with Anaheim last season. His reputation has been as an offense-first defenseman, but if he looks the part defensively, he could be an intriguing addition.  

44 Vladislav Gavrikov (25, 6-3, 215): Gavrikov was a great addition last year, with a subtle sense of humor off the ice that belied just how tough he was to play against on it. The Russian import formed a shutdown pair with David Savard a year ago, using his size and long arms to play a physical, simple game while chipping in five goals and 18 points in 69 games. You'd have to think Gavy and Savy will be a pair again this year, getting the chance to play against opponents up and down the lineup with a defensive focus. 

4 Scott Harrington (27, 6-2, 204): Harrington has found a home in Columbus, as his competitive nature has allowed him to stick around for 166 games over the past four seasons. After playing in a career-high 73 games in 2018-19, he dropped back to 39 a year ago, posting a 1-7-8 line. A well-liked teammate, Harrington will be in a battle for a lineup spot on a seemingly consistent basis this year, but that's nothing new to him. 

3 Seth Jones (26, 6-4, 209): One of the NHL's top players let alone defensemen, Jones is back, good news for a CBJ team that clearly missed him when he suffered a broken ankle last February. He returned for the postseason and turned in that superhuman effort in the five-OT game vs. Tampa Bay, and Jones does it all. He can contribute at a high level offensively and is trusted to play in all situations, with his legs allowing him to get the puck out of the zone and push the pace. Last year was a bit of a down year -- he had six goals and 30 points in 56 games -- but only by his lofty standards; is this the year he battles for a Norris Trophy? 

46 Dean Kukan (27, 6-2, 192): Kukan is one of the true bright spots of the past two years, working himself from the team's seventh defenseman most of 2018-19 into a key playoff performer each of the past two years. His reward is going into camp as the favorite for a third-pair role, and Kukan will deserve it if he plays with the same poise and puck skills as he did last postseason. Coming off a 1-4-5 line in 33 games, the Switzerland native's biggest pluses in the defensive zone are his skating ability and calm when under duress.  

2 Andrew Peeke (22, 6-3, 194): Peeke nearly made the Blue Jackets out of camp last year in his first pro season then looked good at Cleveland before coming up to Columbus in December because of injuries. The book on the Florida native throughout his career at Notre Dame was that he could defend, but his offensive upside was unknown. With the Blue Jackets, with whom he had a 1-2-3 line in 22 games, he looked smooth on both ends, showcasing a sneaky level of offensive ability including an underrated breakout pass. He will battle in camp to clinch a third-pair role. 

58 David Savard (30, 6-2, 229): The co-longest tenured CBJ player along with Atkinson, Savard goes into his 10th season with the squad as a known quantity, as the physical, gritty right-handed defenseman will likely pair with Gavrikov again on a defensive-minded pair. Savard plays a simple game, battling at all times and putting the body on the line as the franchise's all-time leader in shot blocks. Maybe he'll even score a goal this year; he had averaged seven goals per 82 games in his career but somehow ended up with a goose egg a year ago. 

27 Thomas Schemitsch (24, 6-4, 205): A big-bodied right-hand shot who came up through the OHL, Schemitsch earned a camp invite after signing a contract with Cleveland in October. He's spent the last three-plus seasons with Springfield of the AHL, totaling a 24-38-62 line in 219 games so far in his career at the top minor league level. He'll play with Cleveland this year but will get a look from CBJ brass in camp. 

8 Zach Werenski (23, 6-2, 212): Well, if you've made it this far, congrats, we finally got to one of the top players in the NHL. Werenski's offensive abilities have never been doubted -- they're what made him a top-10 pick in the 2015 draft after all -- but he simply went into overdrive a season ago, racking up goals until he had 20 at the time of the coronavirus pause, the most among blueliners in the NHL. He also showed a consistently improved defensive game that led Tortorella to trust him in all situations. Simply put, Werenski is a star, and he should be on the top pair with Jones again. 

Goaltenders (4)

80 Matiss Kivlenieks (24, 6-2, 178): With Veini Vehvilainen, the other prospect who shared time with Kivlenieks in Cleveland last year, staying in Finland, Kivlenieks will go into the season as the No. 3 goalie. That's big in a season in which teams must keep a third goalie around on the taxi squad per NHL rules. Kivlenieks has had a heck of a career -- the Latvian was playing Tier-III junior hockey when he first came to the U.S. -- and made his NHL debut a year ago thanks to injuries, going 1-1-2 in four games with a 2.95 GAA and .898 save percentage. CBJ brass feels there's even more potential in there.  

70 Joonas Korpisalo (26, 6-3, 191): Finally given the chance to take the No. 1 job and run with it, Korpisalo did just that, posting a .926 save percentage in 22 games in November and December. From there, the Finn drafted by Columbus in 2012 suffered a knee injury but came back for the postseason and was impressive, including his record-setting 85-save showing in the five-OT game vs. Tampa Bay. In all, Korpisalo posted an NHL-best .941 save percentage in the playoffs, and he'll split time in net this year as part of the CBJ goaltending tandem. 

90 Elvis Merzlikins (26, 6-3, 181): There were plenty of highs and lows for the Latvian, who came over to much fanfare and lived up to it as both a compelling character and a talented netminder. After a disastrous start -- seven goals allowed in his first start, zero wins in his first 10 appearances -- Merzlikins caught fire when Korpisalo went down, notching five shutouts in eight games at one point and posting a .935 save percentage in his last 23 games. Merzlikins and Korpisalo could be one of the best duos in the NHL if each plays to his potential. 

60 Brad Theissen (34, 6-0, 181): Known as the "Brick Wall" in Cleveland, Theissen has spent the past four seasons with the Monsters, essentially serving as player/coach the past two years and re-signing with Cleveland to fill the same role this year. The veteran is still a pretty good goalie in his own right when he does play, but his key job is to help the CBJ youngsters develop. In camp, he'll be a needed extra body and sounding board.  

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