Thanks to all who submitted questions for the offseason's 17th #CBJ mailbag. Hopefully, we'll get together every Thursday/Friday and I'll answer your questions, so send them to @RobMixer anytime.
Kelly Bunny (@KellyDaBunny)
How important are the unofficial practices on their own? Should we read anything into certain players not showing/showing late?
The players will tell you that these practices are very important. On one hand, it helps them get up to speed with hockey activities way ahead of time, so they don't feel like they're playing catch-up once training camp begins. They feel as if they're ready to go, fully prepared, and it's nothing but positive for them. For the Blue Jackets, everyone is present and accounted for; Brandon Saad arrived Thursday night and was on the ice Friday morning with the full group.
Don't ready anything into who arrives first, etc...some guys live here all year long, and others arrive on a predetermined date after skating with other NHL players in their hometowns, working out with their own trainers, and so on.
Charles Prior III (@CLeeP3)
What is Bjorkstrand's outlook for this year?
I think he's going to surprise and make things really interesting in camp. I know it's easy to say he's going to be a top-line player for Lake Erie and while that's certainly possible, he's not going to training camp with that attitude. All this kid has done is continue to get better every single year, capped off by a 60-plus goal season last year in the WHL, where he was often a line mate with fellow prospect Paul Bittner.
He skates well, he thinks the game at a high level and he has an NHL shot. I foresee some agonizing decisions created because of Bjorkstrand's performance in training camp. I'm not saying he's going to make it or he isn't, but keep an eye on him because he's on the verge of being an NHL player.
Tim LaMay (@TimLaMay)
What does Savard's new deal say about the state of the #CBJ d-corps?
It says that it's in a pretty good spot with a lot of room to grow. Savard's going to be a top-unit power play guy and I don't think it's crazy to see him getting 40-plus points this season. Considering the current makeup of the group (Fedor Tyutin is the elder statesman at 31), you have a group of guys that can do a little bit of everything and that still have more to give.
One guy I'm interested to watch develop is Mike Paliotta, who came over from Chicago in the Brandon Saad deal. He scored 36 points in 41 games last season at the University of Vermont, which is some good hockey-ing in general, but even better at the collegiate level. He's 22 years old, a right-handed shot who skates well and can run a power play, and I think he's going to get a lot of ice time in Cleveland.
Who might be the team to unseat the CBJ for the Traverse title?
Good question. I still think the Blue Jackets have the deepest team in the tournament and stand the best chance to repeat. If I had to pick, I'd say Minnesota stands a strong chance to make things interesting.