Each weekday this season, BlueJackets.com will post CBJ Today, a look at news, notes, analysis and fun stuff from around the Blue Jackets world. It’s everything you need to know if you’re a fan going into the day.
The Daily Buzz
As crazy as it sounds, in a week from now, the Blue Jackets season will be over. The final week of the regular season commences tonight, with Columbus hosting Nashville in Nationwide Arena. That will kick off a stretch of four games in six days, all at Nationwide, to finish things off. Looking forward to seeing you in the barn for one last week, CBJ fans.
Sunday was a good day if you’re a Blue Jackets fan, as the team inked 2020 first-round draft pick Yegor Chinakhov to a three-year entry-level contract.
The deal starts this season, giving him the chance to burn off a year right away. The 20-year-old Russian forward and Gagarin Cup champ won’t play for the Jackets at the end of this year — with just a week left, getting a work visa and handling coronavirus protocols is too big a hurdle to clear — but Chinakhov will now enter the 2021-22 season that starts in the fall with a chance to make the Blue Jackets and make a big splash.
As many fans know, it’s common for Russian players to stay overseas and continue to grow their games before coming to the NHL. For example, 2018 second-round pick Kirill Marchenko is signed through next year with SKA St. Petersburg and 2019 fourth-round pick Dmitri Voronkov is inked through 2022-23 with Ak Bars Kazan, so even though those two are putting up impressive performance in the KHL, CBJ fans will have to be patient. It’s a similar path followed by Vladislav Gavrikov, who stayed with SKA through his age 23 season and then came over to North America last season.
The extra experience overseas in the KHL often allows the player to grow his game into being NHL-ready when he does arrive in North America, as we saw with Gavrikov a year ago. Of course, sometimes it’s hard to be patient when you want to see these prospects in action right away. (Relatedly, it’ll be interesting to see if this impacts a team’s interest in Matvei Michkov, the top 2023 draft prospect from Russia who is currently tearing up the U-18 World Championships but is signed with SKA through 2026.)
Anyway, in this case, Chinakhov has chosen to come to the U.S. after having accomplished great success in his home country, from winning a championship to representing Russia at international events.
He’ll go into next year with a strong chance to make the CBJ roster at age 20, joining such young forwards as Alexandre Texier and Emil Bemstrom who have had success in Europe but are still getting their sea legs at the NHL level.
Perhaps that’s where to start when one thinks about the development of Chinakhov. He’ll likely have to deal with a learning curve when he first arrives, as Texier and Bemstrom have, but he’s also coming from a higher level as well, one where he totaled 15 goals in 53 games this past season between the regular season and playoffs.
It’ll be fun to see where this goes, and Chinakhov will certainly add an interesting element to the upcoming campaign.
First Responders Night
With everything happening in the world, it’s been a difficult year for everyone, including our first responders.
That ranges from everything from police and fire units to frontline workers like doctors and other emergency personnel.
Tonight’s First Responders Night will honor members of that community, and you can learn more at this link. In addition, recently a few Blue Jackets alums visited Station 61 of the Clinton Township Division of Fire, where the title “First Responder” goes beyond fire or medical emergencies. It should be a fun one tonight.
AAA Jackets See Run End
The AAA Blue Jackets U-18 team didn’t earn a championship this past week at USA Hockey Nationals, but it likely earned a lot of respect.
The young Jackets put together a nice run at the event, emerging from its group at the 16-team event to make the quarterfinals thanks to a 2-1 record. From there, the AAA Jackets moved on to the quarterfinals at the event, where it dropped a 4-3 final to power Shattuck St. Mary’s out of Minnesota, though the Columbus team battled back from 3-0 and 4-1 deficits to nearly tie the game.
It was a fun week for the Jackets, who caught some eyes with their showing during the program’s third-ever trip to nationals for the U-18 team. Here’s hoping for more success in the future.