With training camps opening today for most teams, a few squads made some paper moves last night to properly represent players’ statuses heading into 2023-24. One of them was the Columbus Blue Jackets, who officially activated star defenseman Zach Werenski from injured reserve, according to CapFriendly. The move ends a more than ten-month stint on the injured list and clears the path for Werenski to resume his role as the team’s top defender on opening night.
Really, Werenski’s injury was incredibly symbolic for the Blue Jackets last season. A team with some promise after flashy offseason moves, like bringing in free agent prize Johnny Gaudreau, needed everything to go right to be competitive in the Eastern Conference. But a shoulder injury sustained just 13 games into the season would end Werenski’s campaign – during a game that also saw young defender Nick Blankenburg sustain an ankle injury that kept him out long-term. Adam Boqvist had gone down with a foot injury not too much earlier, and before long, Jake Bean joined the trio on the injured list with a season-ending shoulder injury – meaning Columbus had lost four of their top six defensemen to start the campaign within the season’s first 16 games. After a similarly flashy summer regarding player acquisitions, Werenski and the other Blue Jackets will look to avoid the same horrid injury luck.
Elsewhere in the Metropolitan Division this morning:
- Columbus also took forward Justin Danforth off injured reserve, who played just six games last season before a shoulder injury ended his campaign. The 5-foot-9 winger had gotten off to a great start during his second season in Columbus, registering two goals and an assist through five contests and even sliding up into the top six at points. The 30-year-old, a pending UFA with a $975K cap hit, could be on the outside looking in for a roster spot, however. The team needs spots in the lineup for younger forwards like Yegor Chinakhov, Adam Fantilli, Alexandre Texier, and, likely, Russian rookie Dmitri Voronkov after a strong KHL season in 2022-23.
- The Philadelphia Flyers made similar paper moves, per CapFriendly, activating forwards Cam Atkinson, Sean Couturier and defenseman Victor Mete off injured reserve. Both Atkinson and Couturier missed the entirety of 2022-23 due to upper-body and back injuries, respectively. The Flyers’ front office has said repeatedly throughout the summer that they expected both players back at full health for the start of the upcoming season. Mete, a July free agent signing, played just 17 games between the NHL and AHL last season with Toronto before a lower-body injury shut him down for the season in early December.
- The New York Rangers have signed goaltender Brad Arvanitis to a PTO, according to a team announcement on X. He’ll be in camp as an extra body with an ECHL contract already secured with the Maine Mariners, the Boston Bruins’ affiliate, for next season. Arvanitis, 26, actually spent the majority of last season playing in the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL), a league technically one rung below the ECHL but carries no direct NHL affiliation. However, SPHL teams often serve as a source of reserve players for ECHL squads, and the two leagues will often loan players to each other throughout the season. In his first full professional season after finishing his collegiate career at Division III school Babson College, Arvanitis posted a .919 save percentage, 2.71 goals-against average and a 9-6-2 record in 20 appearances with the SPHL’s Pensacola Ice Flyers.