Early Injuries Threaten Jackets Season
After a strong campaign last season, hopes were high Columbus are finally on their way to becoming an annual fixture in the post season.
But with a number key players injured, and protracted contract negotiations with Ryan Johansen causing the young centre to miss training camp, the pressure is on the Ohio outfit already.
Veteran winger Nathan Horton missed 46 games last season with shoulder and abdominal injuries, and is now sidelined indefinitely with a degenerative back ailment.
Whilst team President John Davidson was right when he said the word ‘degenerative’ could be applied to a lot of players injuries on Tuesday’s Marek vs Wyshynski podcast, Horton’s health has to be of concern to the club.
With no time scale for a return (as Davidson said “you just can’t tell with backs”), Columbus looks likely to be minus one of it’s leading players for the long haul.
The problem is further compounded by Boone Jenner’s absence, with the 21-year old likely to be out for around five weeks following surgery on a broken hand; and with Johansen missing camp, the Blue Jacket’s projected top line has been descimated just as the new season begins.
Centre Brandon Dubinsky was also moved to the injured reserve on Tuesday, with a lower body injury set to keep the former New York Rangers forward out for indefinitely.
Dubinsky scored 16 goals and 50 points last season, and was often matched up against oppositions top players – performing a vital shut down role for the franchise.
The Jackets depth chart takes a further hit with free agent signing Brian Gibbons on the shelf with an undisclosed injury and 2014 draft pick Sonny Milano out with a facial injury.
Sophmore Ryan Murray’s progress has been hindered by further problems with his knee, which kept him out of the line up for a chunk of last season as well.
Whilst Columbus improved their roster by acquiring Scott Hartnell this summer, losing half of their top 6 and one of their most promising D men right at the start of a new campaign is a tough break for a team far from guaranteed a play-off spot.
If Johansen is more Drew Doughty than PK Subban when it comes to putting a lost preseason behind him, the Blue Jackets could be in real trouble.
Whether the club leans even more heavily on netminder Sergei Bobrovsky, or someone like Cam Atkinson goes on a hot streak with the increased ice time, being short a number of big names until at least mid-November present a tremendous challenge to this up and coming team.
Does Columbus have it in them to get through it?
They dealt with injuries last season; but to begin a year that way?
Just ask Edmonton, or the 2010/11 New Jersey Devils, what a poor start to the season can do to your play-off hopes – especially if you’re a bubble team like the Blue Jackets are.
Posted on October 9, 2014, in Columbus Blue Jackets, Hockey, NHL and tagged Boone Jenner, Columbus Blue Jackets, Hockey, Nathan Horton, NHL, Ryan Johansen, Ryan Murray. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.