The Columbus Blue Jackets have issued updates on several players, the most concerning of which has to do with Jakub Voracek. The veteran forward has not been medically cleared to resume hockey activities and is out indefinitely following a concussion last month. General manager Jarmo Kekalainen released the following:
Jake has had a number of head injuries during his career, and after the most recent was advised by doctors to take some time off to see if his ongoing symptoms subside to the point that will allow him to come back and play. We don’t expect a resolution in the near future and will give Jake as much time as he needs as his long-term health is the most important factor here.
Meanwhile, Jake Bean underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder and will miss four to six months. Zach Werenski, who had already been ruled out for the season, also underwent surgery on a torn labrum.
It’s scary news for Voracek, who despite declining goal totals has remained one of the best powerplay passers in the league. Last season he had six goals and 56 assists for 62 points in 79 games, 23 of those helpers with the man advantage. He also crossed the 1,000-game threshold last year, and reached 800 points for his career.
Now 33, it sounds like the team won’t rush him back this season even if he does start seeing some improvement over the next few months. The team is unlikely to challenge for the playoffs thanks to a long list of injuries, meaning there’s not much for the veteran forward to fight for. He’s already signed through next season and will earn $7.5MM ($8.25MM cap hit), meaning he can just focus on his day-to-day quality of life at this point.
For Bean this surgery likely means his season is also over. Despite the suggestion that a four-month recovery is possible, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to rush him back either. The Blue Jackets signed him to a three-year contract in 2021, which takes him through the 2023-24 season at a $2.33MM cap hit. He’ll be an arbitration-eligible RFA after that, so returning to pile up some counting stats may be beneficial for his future negotiation, but if there is any risk of re-injury they might as well wait until the summer to ramp things up.
Columbus has been ravaged by injuries and sit dead last in the Eastern Conference, only ahead of the Anaheim Ducks league-wide. They have a real chance at landing the first-overall pick or at least being one of the two lottery winners, adding another top offensive talent to the pipeline.