James Wisniewski Injury: Where Do Columbus Blue Jackets Go from Here?

Patrick DrottarCorrespondent IDecember 30, 2011

DALLAS, TX - DECEMBER 29:  James Wisniewski #21 of the Columbus Blue Jackets is helped off the ice by Jeff Carter #7 and Ryan Johansen #19 at American Airlines Center on December 29, 2011 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

On Thursday, the Columbus Blue Jackets achieved their first road regulation victory this season.

Goaltender Steve Mason was near perfect and captain Rick Nash buried two goals to lead the Jackets past the Dallas Stars.

Unfortunately, the win would come with some consequences as defenseman James Wisniewski left the game and would not return after taking a puck to the ankle. The 27-year-old was unable to put weight on his left foot and went straight to the locker room.

It was later revealed that Wisniewski had suffered a fractured ankle and would be out of the Columbus lineup indefinitely.

"The Wiz" was the Jackets' big free-agent signing this offseason when the team signed him to a six-year deal worth a reported $33 million. Wisniewski was slated to be the Jackets' power play quarterback, a position that has been an issue for years.

Now, the Jackets are forced to try and find a temporary replacement while their top defenseman is on the mend.

Columbus has a few options to look at and the first is through their farm system.

Players like David Savard or Nick Holden could soon be called up from the Springfield Falcons and could finally receive some consistent playing time. Savard would be the ideal choice as he has excelled in Springfield and is the Jackets' top defensive prospect.

The other option for the Blue Jackets is to trade for a defenseman before the trade deadline.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 5: Erik Gustafsson #26 of the Philadelphia Flyers controls the puck against Derick Brassard #16 of the Columbus Blue Jackets during the third period at the Wells Fargo Center on November 5, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (
Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images

Columbus has been in the trade rumors all season after the forgettable start to the year.

Names like Jeff Carter, Derick Brassard, as well as Rick Nash have all popped up.

General manager Scott Howson was quick to deny that Nash and Carter were available, but Brassard's name has been thrown around since mid-October.

After being a healthy scratch for a considerable amount of time, Brassard has found himself playing a lot on the team's fourth line, possibly auditioning himself to interested outsiders.

Brassard has struggled this season, but has shown a lot of potential and could excel in a new environment.

According to The Hockey News, the two teams at the most interested in Brassard at the moment are the Toronto Maple Leafs and Florida Panthers.

Both teams are making a push for the playoffs and may feel that Brassard could be a missing puzzle piece.

One option that the Jackets could be interested in is Toronto's John-Michael Liles.

Last season, when Columbus was in the middle of the Western Conference standings, the Jackets were looking for roster upgrades and Liles' name popped up frequently.

Regardless of who the Blue Jackets try and trade for, the injury to Wisniewski is a critical one and should increase the trade rumors immediately.

Update: Just found out via GM Scott Howson's Twitter that Wisniewski does not require surgery and will be out for six weeks.