The Columbus Blue Jackets have updated the status of Zach Werenski and it isn’t good news. The star defenseman suffered a separated shoulder and torn labrum last season and is expected to miss the rest of the regular season. The team has also moved Nick Blankenburg, Sean Kuraly, and Jakub Voracek on injured reserve, while recalling Gavin Bayreuther, Marcus Bjork, and David Jiricek.
Blankenburg is out six to eight weeks with a fractured ankle. Kuraly is considered day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Voracek is out indefinitely with an upper-body injury. Erik Gudbranson is also day-to-day but will not play tomorrow.
This is about the worst-case scenario for the Blue Jackets, who managed to win last night for just the fourth time this season. The team has already struggled to keep the puck out of their own net, allowing 57 goals through 13 games. By removing Werenski – and to a lesser extent Blankenburg – their defensive group now looks incredibly thin with basically no first-pairing talent. The 25-year-old also makes more than $9.5MM per season, a higher cap hit than anyone other than Johnny Gaudreau.
Without him, the team suddenly looks like a group that will be unable to turn around their tough start. The draft lottery in a year with several high-end prospects looks like a tempting reward for finishing near the bottom of the league.
The silver lining, perhaps, is that a young player like Jiricek could receive some interesting NHL opportunities. Werenski was the quarterback of the team’s top powerplay unit, a role that will now need to be filled by someone. During Jiricek’s short two-game taste earlier this year he did see a bit of time with the man advantage, though he wasn’t able to record a point.
While they won’t admit it, the Blue Jackets will likely have to transition this season into a development year and start looking toward the future. That will increase speculation about Gustav Nyquist, Vladislav Gavrikov, and Joonas Korpisalo, all scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency at the end of the year.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images
Welcome to Columbus, Connor Bedard!
If that happens, and it certainly could, the Jackets could become a beast in a hurry. There are some good young pieces there. Laine, Roslovic, Kent Johnson, Werenski. That’s not even counting Johnny hockey. If Texier can come back, and Sillinger and Jiricek pan out that would be a really strong group to drop Bedard into the middle of.
Yo Bedard centring a line of Laine and Johnny Hockey I would be epic
Oof. That’s gonna sting. Bet it affects Laine and his upcoming FA
Laine just signed a 4 year extension this offseason.
Bet it doesn’t.
Calling Seth, come on down to CBJ town! LOL
Wings will ship ya some spare parts D when Walman and Pysyk come back.
Bruins Mike Reilly for a 3rd round pick. It’s not an exciting move but he would help more then he would hurt.
Brad Larsen good news/bad news: your team just got way worse but they can’t pin it all on you anymore. Develop the youngsters, find an identity.
Hard to imagine a team with Johnny Gaudreau and Patrik Laine is in serious conversation for 1st overall pick
Who’s the new PP QB???