Losing an All-Star defenseman at any point is a major blow to a team, but when it happens while two other top defenseman are less than 100%, it becomes a problem. That is what the Columbus Blue Jackets face to begin the 2018-1 season. The team announced that top defenseman Seth Jones sprained his MCL in last night’s preseason game. As a second degree sprain of the ligament, surgery will not be required, but Jones will be out four to six weeks to begin the year. He is expected to return to the Blue Jackets’ lineup in November.
Meanwhile, Zach Werenski is still working his way back from off-season shoulder surgery and has yet to play this preseason, while Ryan Murray is day-to-day with a groin injury. Both players were considered questionable to start the regular season, but will now be pressed into action to help make up for Jones’ loss. While the Blue Jackets’ top-four of Jones, Werenski, Murray, and David Savard is very strong, their depth of Markus Nutivaara, Scott Harrington, Dean Kukan, and Adam Clendening lacks the same optimism. Someone will have to step up and play a capable top-four role for the month or longer that Jones remains sidelined.
No one will truly be able to replicated Jones’ play, however. The 23-year-old set a career high with 16 goals and 57 points last season, among the top scoring defensemen in the NHL. Jones also led Columbus in average time on ice, shots, and power play production. The young blue liner really did it all for the Blue Jackets and the team will undoubtedly struggle in his absence.