Straight Jackets: Formulating an all-time CBJ lineup
So there's some scuttlebutt that the NHL has a plan to finish the 2019-2020 season with a 24-team modified playoff starting in June.
I've been formulating some thoughts on that, and we'll see what happens over the next couple of weeks; I'll focus the next Straight Jackets on the resumption of the season if it goes that way.
One of the things that's out there is the handful of injured Blue Jackets players who would have missed the rest of the season, and who now would be healthy and available, not the least of which is Seth Jones, undoubtedly the team's best player.
Which leads into one of the things I've been thinking about during this pause: Who would make your all-time CBJ lineup? This is exactly the kind of thing I tend to overthink, so it took me a while, and I'm still maybe not 100 percent satisfied with it, but here goes. Let me know who I missed, because I'm sure there's someone.
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Rick Nash - Ryan Johansen - Jakub Voracek
Can dominate with skill and size. Maybe some questions about motivation level. Nash and Johansen left the team under not the best circumstances, but I think this is as elite a group as can be assembled.
Artemi Panarin - Pierre-Luc Dubois - Cam Atkinson
This was a real-life line some of the time during the 18-19 season. Panarin perhaps the most pure skill the team has ever seen. Dubois is young but CBJ history isn't exactly littered with great centers. Atkinson a lifer but deserving for sure.
Geoff Sanderson - Brandon Dubinsky - David Vyborny
Here's where things get tricky. Sanderson was the team's first scoring threat. Vyborny a much-loved early Jacket and warrants inclusion. Wanted to have Antoine Vermette at center but Vyborny is a heart pick over Ray Whitney so I went with the head pick in Dubinsky. Artem Anisimov is in the discussion, too.
Nick Foligno - Manny Malhotra - Matt Calvert
Could have made a fourth line with higher skill by including some of the guys I left off the third line, but to me, these three are the epitome of what it means to be a Jacket.
Honorable Mention: The aforementioned Whitney (just ran out of spots; he deserves to be in but what are you gonna do?), Anisimov and Vermette; Espen Knutsen (definitely has a place in team history); Matt Duchene (only here a quarter of a season); Andrew Cassels (still lives in town and was the team's first best center); and damned if I don't want to sometimes be able to roll a line of Jody Shelley, Tyler Wright and Jared Boll out there.
Zach Werenski - Seth Jones
OK, maybe some recency bias, but they're head and shoulders the best we've ever had. And we know they're great together.
Jack Johnson - David Savard
A lot of options here but I think these two always elevated their game in the biggest moments. Fedor Tyutin deserves a look, too.
Rostislav Klesla - James Wisniewski
Again, while the team's history isn't chock full of great blueliners, there were some tough choices here. Klesla is a heart pick, as the team's first drafted player, over Jan Hejda. He's also a great penalty killer. And Wiz is the power play specialist. Again, Tyutin is deserving of a look here. And no, Adam Foote is dead to me.
Honorable Mention: The aforementioned Tyutin and Hejda; Luke Richardson if you want a representative from the first few seasons. Kris Russell because he was my daughter's first favorite player.
This one was pretty clear. It's after that where it gets murky.
The team's original netminder, in some respects it was his play that gave the team whatever respectability it had early on. He had a solid career pre- and post-CBJ as well, so he gets the nod as backup over...
Honorable Mention: Steve Mason (he won the Calder Trophy as league rookie of the year and backstopped the club to its first-ever playoff appearance, but he flamed out so badly); Marc Denis (underrated in his time here, and in a purely "favorite player" scenario probably gets in over Tugger).