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For Blue Jackets, the youth movement is on

Several top prospects appear ready to make an impact in camp

by Alison Lukan @AlisonL / BlueJackets.com

When the Lake Erie Monsters won the Calder Cup last June, several Blue Jackets players (including captain Nick Foligno), were sending their younger teammates congratulations.

Just three short months later, those players will line up against each other at training camp in a competition to make the Jackets roster the best it can be this season.

"If you're going to come and help us, we're going to welcome you with open arms," Foligno said. "We're excited to see who is going to rise to the occasion and come and help our group.

"But it's my job to be competitive and push everybody. If you want to be here, then you've got to beat me."

Foligno said the players have heard a lot about the young players in the organization, and that emphasis continued at Blue Jackets media day in remarks from John Davidson, who raved about the Monsters roster and what they accomplished in their 15-2 run to the AHL championship.

"The AHL is a very good league," Davidson said. "What I liked about (the way they won) is that the young players were a part of a team that had great success, and they were playing and playing a lot."

Video: Foligno on team's approach heading into the season

Among the names Davidson mentioned were defenseman Zach Werenski, along with forwards Sonny Milano, Josh Anderson, Oliver Bjorkstrand and Nick Moutrey.

These players may not all be the same age, or from the same draft class, but Davidson says their evolution on the ice is indicative of the development system that is being put in place for the organization.

Foligno said some of the younger players have been training in Columbus with current Blue Jackets while others have arrived more recently from training elsewhere, but the captain says you can see the work being put into preparing for the upcoming season.

"I think they'll push for jobs," said defenseman David Savard. "Whether at 'D', forward, anybody - they want to play (in Columbus) and they know how to win. I think it's good if they push (the veteran players); we'll have to play better and that makes the team better."

But don't think the only stakes are just friendly competition. As the Blue Jackets look to rebound from last season's disappointment, they want to prove they are a good group of players. It's clear that everyone is going to be facing heightened expectations, and a lot of that will be coming from the younger players in the organization.

"If you're not ready to go, you're going to be left behind," Davidson said. "If players aren't playing well or didn't earn their right to play for this club, they're not going to play. We feel comfortable that the young guys are going to push, and that's a good thing."

 

 

 

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