Columbus Cuts Not Far Away

By Bill Drake

There are still a few players on the bubble. Drury, Harkins, Vyborny, Maltais, Maneluk, Spanhel and Nielsen up front, and Klesla, Robertsson, Nummelin, and Grand-Pierre on the blueline are all fighting for the remaining spots; or perhaps they’re not.

Doug MacLean has stated that he already has his opening-nigth roster in mind. Figure that Neilsen and Spanhel will be sent to Syracuse to see plenty of ice time since they don’t have to pass through waivers. Maneluk should be sent down, along with Harkins. Maltais has really played his way onto the Blue Jackets, providing timely scoring and decent defensive play. On defense expect to see Bert Robertsson sent down.

The rest of the defense is more closely debated. Nummelin has skill rarely seen on expansion bluelines and figures to stay in Columbus. Klesla, who is close to signing a contract will probably stay for a 10-game stint before being returned to Brampton to log lots of ice time. Grand-Pierre has seen some time on the wing during the preseason and could stick due to his versatility but will start the season in Syracuse.

This is what the opening day roster should look like:

Forwards Kron, Sanderson, Adams, Aubin, Dineen, Wright, Heinze, Oliwa, Knutsen, Vyborny, Gardner, Maltais.
Defense Odelein, Heward, Kucera, Bicanek, Nummelin, Quint, Timander, Klesla.

Goalies Tugnutt, Denis.