Though there was initially no timetable, Columbus Blue Jackets’ fans immediately assumed the worst when hearing that Ryan Murray had broken his hand. Stephen Whyno of the Associated Press confirmed those fears today, reporting that the defenseman would be out for four to six weeks. Murray blocked a shot against the Buffalo Sabres on his second shift of the game Saturday night, coming out of the game immediately.
The Blue Jackets had only dealt with minor injuries to the majority of their defense corps, with Zach Werenski and Jack Johnson having not missed a single game this season. Losing Murray is exactly the type of unfortunate scenario that led to the acquisition of Kyle Quincey at the deadline, who will likely assume much of the responsibility. Quincey’s flexibility to play both sides of the ice will allow the Blue Jackets to insert whoever they wish into the sixth spot, likely one of Scott Harrington or Markus Nutivaara.
Murray, the former second-overall pick of the 2012 draft, had been a workhorse for the Blue Jackets last season, logging over 22 minutes of icetime each night. With a full season from Seth Jones and the emergence of Werenski however, his importance had been dialed back this year. Still an integral piece of their penalty kill, his absence will surely be felt over the last month and a half of the season. Four weeks would bring him back just in time for the playoffs, while six would jeopardize the entire first round. With the Blue Jackets a lock for a playoff spot, but not necessarily home ice advantage, the remaining fifteen games are still extremely important.