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TRAINING CAMP NOTES: Korpisalo prepared for more NHL starts

Jackets' backup eager to earn coaching staff's trust, knows 'anything can happen'

by Brian Hedger @JacketsInsider /

Two things will be different for Joonas Korpisalo this season.

First, since he needs to clear waivers to be sent to the American Hockey League, those periodic trips up I-71 to start for the Cleveland Monsters are history. He'll have to find other ways to stay sharp as Sergei Bobrovsky's backup, which could mean more action with the Blue Jackets.

"I don't have a crystal ball," coach John Tortorella said on media day last week, when asked whether Korpisalo might play more this season. "I don't know what's going to happen. I am approaching this year about trying to win hockey games as best we can. That sits well for [Korpisalo], too, because 'Korpi' has progressed as he's gone about it. You've got to remember with 'Korpi,' when we've played him a number of games in a row, he's played really well."


Secondly, Bobrovsky's contract situation could affect Korpisalo. The future beyond this season is a question mark with regard to Bobrovsky, who hasn't reached agreement on an extension and has just this season left on his current deal.

Should Bobrovsky leave via free agency or be traded prior to July 1, 2019, Korpisalo might be the first place the Blue Jackets turn to replace him. If so, getting him more time in the NHL this season would be a good idea - one Korpisalo welcomes.

"Who doesn't want to play more?" he said Sunday, after looking much sharper in his second scrimmage of training camp. "I've got to earn it and I think I'm better than last year. I'm fully confident I'm going to play better and earn some more games that way."

Korpisalo appeared in 18 games in 2017-18, going 8-8-1 with a 3.32 goals-against average and .897 save percentage. Those numbers aren't elite, but he did have some impressive stretches - including three key wins during the Jackets' season-high 10-game winning streak in March, which ultimately catapulted them into the playoffs.

"For me, the goal is to make sure that, well, you never know what happens," Korpisalo said. "So, I try to prove that I'm a guy who can take the No.1 job if something happens or take over right now. That's pretty much it. Just work hard and prove yourself and earn wins for the team. That's it."


-- The Blue Jackets will get their preseason schedule under way Monday at Nationwide Arena against the Buffalo Sabres (7 p.m., Fox Sports Go,, 1460 ESPN Radio).

It's unknown whether Buffalo will bring rookie defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, whom the Sabres selected with the No. 1 overall pick at the 2018 NHL Draft this past June in Dallas. Dahlin has already shown his impressive array of skills during scrimmages early in camp, but coach Phil Housely didn't reveal to reporters Sunday whether Dahlin will make his Sabres preseason debut against the Blue Jackets on Monday or Tuesday at KeyBank Center against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Columbus will dress 10 players who are expected to make the NHL roster, along with several others who could be on the cusp.

-- Korpisalo said the unsolved contract situations of Bobrovsky and star left wing Artemi Panarin shouldn't create a distraction within the locker room.

"No one cares about it," he said. "I mean, these guys are right here, right now and they're working hard. They're great guys, both guys, so us players … we don't care. Just keep going as before."

-- Tortorella wasn't happy with the intensity of the scrimmages Saturday. A day later, he was happier about the way the second two were played at Nationwide Arena.

"The scrimmages were much better," Tortorella said. "The intensity on the puck, some contact and just the overall pace was much better."

-- Big centers is one thing the Blue Jackets have in abdundance. At the NHL level, there's Pierre-Luc Dubois (6-foot-3), Alexander Wennberg (6-2), Brandon Dubinsky (6-2) - and even Riley Nash (6-1) and Lukas Sedlak (6-0) are at least six-foot.

Further down the pipeline are guys like Sam Vigneault (6-5), Kevin Stenlund (6-4) and Ryan MacInnis (6-3).

As long as they can keep pace, end-to-end, Tortorella is in favor of the big guys down the middle.

"They've got to be able to skate," he said. "The size is good. It helps you on face-offs. It helps you on coverages. They're down low a lot with the defensemen, as far as taking up space. I was just saying that [Saturday]. They're not all going to be here, but you go to Cleveland, there could be some big size down the middle of the ice as we shake it out here in camp."


Here are the 20 players slated to dress for the Blue Jackets on Monday against the Sabres:


Vitaly Abramov, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Alex Broadhurst, Jonathan Davidsson, Brandon Dubinsky, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Anthony Duclair, Markus Hannikainen, Ryan MacInnis, Sonny Milano, Calvin Thurkauf, Sam Vigneault


Adam Clendening, Tommy Cross, Scott Harrington, Dean Kukan, Markus Nutivaara, David Savard


Matiss Kivlenieks, Brad Thiessen

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