Blue Jackets finalize opening night roster

A strong preseason helped Marko Dano make the final cut.

MIKE MUNDEN/AP

Columbus, OH –€“ The Blue Jackets have assigned forward Kerby Rychel and defenseman Frederic St. Denis to the Springfield Falcons (AHL affiliate) and placed forward Jerry D’Amigo on waivers. Forward Brian Gibbons was placed on Injured Reserve.

With Ryan Johansen now under contract and Jack Skille claimed off waivers, these moves mean that Michael Chaput, Cody Goloubef, Alex Wennberg and Marko Dano have made the 23 man roster.

The team is going with 14 forwards, 7 defensemen and 2 goalies when they start the season on Thursday in Buffalo.

The forwards: Artem Anisimov, Cam Atkinson, Jared Boll, Matt Calvert, Michael Chaput, Marko Dano, Brandon Dubinsky, Nick Foligno, Scott Hartnell, Ryan Johansen, Mark Letestu, Jack Skille, Corey Tropp, Alex Wennberg. Brian Gibbons, Nathan Horton (back) and Boone Jenner (hand) are on Injured Reserve.

The defense: Tim Erixon, Cody Goloubef, Jack Johnson, Dalton Prout, David Savard, Fedor Tyutin, James Wisniewski. Ryan Murray (knee) is on Injured Reserve.

The goalies: Sergei Bobrovsky and Curtis McElhinney.

This is your Blue Jackets team to start the 2014-15 campaign. The team will have a better idea of Johansen’s conditioning once he arrives in Columbus, which is expected (best case scenario) at some point on Tuesday.

Ryan Murray was skating with the team today and had some "light" contact. He still has not been cleared for full contact and will most likely not start in Buffalo.

"Just small steps and we’re not looking to rush anything", said Murray. "I got into some pushing drills at the end (of practice). Pressuring (the knee) is way different than just skating and I didn’t have any problems with it. So, that’s a good sign."

He said the knee is not one-hundred percent yet, but it is real close. "It doesn’t feel like it did, but it might take a little while to get back to feeling one-hundred percent. Pushing off is another thing that I have to get used to and another thing that I have to get better at."

COUNTDOWN TO FACE-OFF

What isn’t clear, but will become more so by Wednesday, is how the forward lines take shape. Some juggling will take place from what was seen during the preseason, for sure.

Jack Skille (4 goals in 16 games last year) played on Johansen’s wing during the playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins. With him on one side of Johansen and Hartnell on the other, it would be a good mix of speed and skill for a top line until Boone Jenner is healthy enough for his return.

It’s doubtful that Wennberg and Dano made the roster only to watch the games from the press box. So, pencil them in. With Johansen back in the fold, this pushes Letestu back down to the fourth line. Chaput might very well start the season watching from upstairs at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo. But remember, this is only conjecture at this point.

Head coach Todd Richards has been game-planning under the assumption that Johansen would not be in Columbus to start the season. While it’s good that he’s back, it does put a wrinkle into what Richards might have had planned for Thursday and beyond.

But, and this is key, the Blue Jackets have never had to deal with the problem of having this much depth at all positions in the past. In the somewhat short history of the franchise, they are blazing a new trail with the beginning of the 2014-15 season.

With the roster set, decisions still have to be made. The best guess is that those decisions won’t be concrete until the puck actually drops on Thursday evening.

It’s time to strap in for what will surely be a ride to remember, kids.