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Mixer's Mailbag: Offseason Vol. 9

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

Thanks to all who submitted questions for the offseason's ninth #CBJ mailbag. Hopefully, we'll get together every Thursday/Friday and I'll answer your questions, so send them to @RobMixer anytime.

Union Blue Soldiers (@TheUBSoldiers)
Any #CBJ players that could surprise us or have a breakout season?

Absolutely, and I'll give you one right off the top: David Clarkson. This guy has flown under the radar a bit, and it's been a tough go since being traded to Columbus in February and suffering an oblique injury shortly thereafter, but I can't think of a better candidate for a surprise season. Clarkson does not have the same expectations here as he shouldered in Toronto, and he's in Columbus with one sole purpose: to help the team win. I've got him penciled in alongside Scott Hartnell and Alexander Wennberg to start next season, and if he does his thing and gets to the front of the net, we could see some positive results. Don't sleep on this guy. I'm serious. Eight months from now, I look forward to many dissenting opinions telling me I was right.

Noizii1 (@Zombeezii)
Who do you think will be top line with Saad and Joey?

If I was a betting man (I'm not), I'm going with Cam Atkinson. He fits well with Johansen, they like playing together, and adding Saad to the left side gives that line an elite power forward element that also figures to create some space -- and we know how dangerous Atkinson is with open ice and room to shoot the puck. Here's the good thing: it doesn't have to be a one-or-the-other approach. Todd Richards has some tantalizing options, with seven or eight guys he can comfortably utilize in his top six.

Would it surprise me if captain Nick Foligno found himself on the top line? Not one bit. Depth is a good thing -- a great thing -- and it gives the Blue Jackets a lot to think about when training camp opens. I suspect we'll see Richards experiment with several options before making a decision on the opening night lineup.

Daniel Dukart (@DanDukart)
Is Bourque seen around the league as a movable piece? He seems like the odd man out in this lineup.

I don't know about the first part, but I'm sure a lot of teams like him. I do know this: the Blue Jackets like him, too, and they were as disappointed as he was to have his season cut short due to injury. He really seemed to find his way in Columbus on that late-season western Canada swing, forming a strong alliance with Johansen and Atkinson and scoring four goals in an eight-game span. Size, speed, and a deceptively good shot. That's what he brings, and those are good things to bring.

I also don't think he's the odd man out. There is absolutely a spot for him in the lineup, but with so many forwards still, it'll take training camp and preseason to figure it all out.

Jason Liebert (@jel779)
Do you think the CBJ will sign Werenski next year? Also, do you think we will have a cap problem next year?

The Blue Jackets will sign Werenski when he's ready to turn pro, and not a moment sooner. After the draft, Werenski said he intended to return to Michigan for his sophomore season, and there's been no official word to the contrary in the weeks since.

No cap problems, friends. Let's be real: it will probably go up (again), the Blue Jackets currently have room under it, and they have expiring contracts that could increase the cushion. They have key RFAs to sign in the next 12 months, yes, but let's pour a cold drink and enjoy the rest of this summer before we start worrying about the next one. Deal?

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