The Blue Jackets placed defenseman Zach Werenski on injured reserve Friday, the NHL’s media site reflects. Head coach Pascal Vincent informed reporters yesterday that he’d be sidelined on a week-to-week basis with a lower-body injury. A team release distributed later Friday reflects that Werenski sustained an ankle injury and that the team has also activated forward Jack Roslovic off injured reserve.
Werenski will miss a minimum of seven days, starting from Wednesday when he sustained the injury against the Devils, but he’ll likely be sidelined for much longer given the week-to-week designation. This continues a stretch of horrid injury luck for the Blue Jackets’ top defenseman, who missed two games early this season with a quadriceps contusion and nearly all of last season with a shoulder injury.
He may have just one goal through 34 games, but Werenski has racked up 24 assists for a 0.74 points per game rate that’s the highest of his career – and on the team this season. His two-way play is also at a peak, posting a team-high +1.5 expected rating while averaging nearly 20 minutes per game at even strength and additional time on both special teams units. Simply put, the 26-year-old has been the Blue Jackets’ best player this season by a decent margin.
His absence won’t affect the Blue Jackets’ outlook this season very much, as their 11-18-7 start to the campaign has them with just a 0.6% chance of making the playoffs, per Hockey Reference. However, it is another tough blow for one of the division’s top defensemen who, at 26 years old, is beginning his prime.
If the Blue Jackets can build a playoff contender out of this current group of developing prospects, Werenski will be the leader of the core. He has four seasons remaining after this at a $9.58MM cap hit.
Roslovic will return to the lineup tonight for the first time in over six weeks. He last played on November 12 against the Rangers before sustaining an ankle fracture, resulting in a 21-game absence.
Before getting injured, the 26-year-old had eight points through 14 games. He is expected to play wing on the team’s fourth line alongside Brendan Gaunce and Alexandre Texier in tonight’s game against the Maple Leafs, the teams’ third meeting of the season.