The Columbus Blue Jackets got some tough news last week when star winger Patrik Laine sustained an elbow sprain in the team’s season opener and had to be moved to injured reserve immediately. Fortunately, though, it seems his three-to-four-week recovery timeline is still right on schedule, if not a bit ahead. The Columbus Dispatch’s Brian Hedger reported today that Laine skated on his own in full gear for the past two days at the team’s practice facility. Hedger also noted the Finnish star is confident he’ll be ready to play by the first week of November when the Blue Jackets travel to Finland to play a set of games against the Colorado Avalanche.
That’s obviously a huge deal for Laine personally, but also the league, as Laine is the most marketable hometown player who’ll skate in the back-to-back set of games in Tampere. Laine hails directly from Tampere, and while his Avalanche counterpart in Mikko Rantanen may have more publicity overall, there’s nothing like getting to see one of your town’s best-ever hockey products play an NHL game on home soil.
A quick return from Laine is also crucial for Columbus’ playoff hopes. While Johnny Gaudreau has held up his end of the bargain, recording four points in his first four games as a Blue Jacket, their lack of quality offensive depth has been exposed by Laine’s injury. Minor-league and European league journeyman Justin Danforth was the team’s first option to replace Laine on the top line, which is obviously a less-than-ideal situation.