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Sunday, August 26, 2007

CBJ Center Post

The Columbus Dispatch posted an article with all of the centers for the Blue Jackets. We have 10 men fighting for 4 positions. Also, End of the Bench has a Spotlight On: Centers.

1. Sergei Fedorov

It's a contract year; coaches hope to get him plugged in competitively.

2. Michael Peca

A shut-down center who will chew up lots of minutes and kill lots of penalties.

3. Dan Fritsche

Figures to get a shot on the No. 1 line during camp, but could fit as a winger, too.

4. Jiri Novotny

Could be set for a third-line job between Jason Chimera and Fritsche.

5. Manny Malhotra

Shows flashes but needs to throw his arms around a "checking center" role.

6. Gilbert Brule

He'll get a shot high in the lineup, but he could be destined for Syracuse.

7. Derick Brassard

Faces huge odds to make the club as a rookie, but he'll get a look.

8. Zenon Konopka

A fourth-line disturber in the Slapshot mold; brings it every night.

9. Kris Beech

Trying to reclaim his once-promising career; seems destined for Syracuse.

10. Geoff Platt

Life is not easy for undrafted free agents, but Platt's energy will get him a look.

The Jackets also posted an article on our Centers. Hitchcock apparently has the four centers penciled in. Top line will be Michael Peca, Sergei Fedorov, Manny Malhotra, and Jiri Novotny.

But here's the wrinkle. Early on in camp, the Blue Jackets will give Dan Fritsche, Gilbert Brule and Derick Brassard a look on one of the top two lines, likely letting them each play two of the first four exhibition games in such a role.

"We want to see if we can be dynamic offensively," Hitchcock said. "That's why we're going to experiment.

"Style is not as relevant as is the fact that we want players who are committed on both ends of the rink. We want players to compete hard."

If a young gun makes it, Fedorov can slide to the second line, between left winger Fredrik Modin and right winger Nikolai Zherdev, and Peca can give the Jackets a dynamic third line with Jason Chimera on his left and possibly Fritsche on his right.

I don't know who is going to be on the top line but, I know that Hitchcock will make the right decision. The lines and defensive pairings will be in tact coming out of training camp.

"I want to play the final two or three exhibition games knowing what we're going to do (with the lineup)," Hitchcock said.

I know this there are 39 days until the regular season and it can't come soon enough.


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