Derick Brassard Placed on Injured Reserve: Are Blue Jackets' Hopes All but Gone?
The 23-year-old will be out for two to three weeks after taking a Jan Hejda slap shot off his left hand early in last night's shootout loss to the L.A. Kings.
Brassard had an MRI done that did not show a bone break, but he plans to have another one done soon. When interviewed, Brassard was confident that he would return before the end of the season.
"I will be back, I'm not done for the season," said Brassard, who has played well lately centering the first line between Rick Nash and Jakub Voracek. "I'll be back in a couple weeks after the swelling goes down. The main thing is I have to be able to grip my stick. "
So what does this mean for Columbus, which finds itself six points out of a playoff spot? Rumors have speculated that there are three routes that can be taken.
1) Get a Deal Done As Soon As Possible
With general manager Scott Howson already looking to find an impact center and defenseman, some have mentioned that Brassard's injury has forced Howson to get a deal done quickly to fill the void left by center.
In able to fill the void without making a substantial subtraction on his end, Howson would have to give up several draft picks and prospects, including Nikita Filatov, who may need a change of venue anyway.
One player that the Blue Jackets have expressed interest in is Buffalo's Tim Connolly. Columbus was interested in Connolly early in the season before he was out due to an injury. However, if the Blue Jackets did look to get Connolly, the Sabres would probably ask for locker room leader R.J. Umberger in return.
2) Don't Do Anything
Another option is for the Blue Jackets to not do anything. They would make moves through their own system and see how everything pans out.
Howson has said that the Brassard injury has not changed any of the trade talks that he has been having. Coach Scott Arniel stated after Thursday's practice that he already has a plan in place for what centers will play on each line for the Jackets' game against Chicago tomorrow night.
Veteran Antoine Vermette skated between Nash and Voracek during today's practice. Last season, Vermette registered career highs in goals and assists when he skated on the same line as Nash.
Another option is moving Umberger to center the first line or letting Derek MacKenzie continue what he started last night. Against the Kings, MacKenzie delivered two beautiful assists to both Voracek and Nash while filling in for the injured Brassard.
Regardless of what he chooses to do, Arniel has options just in case one does not pan out like he wants. He also has players like Ethan Moreau and Derek Dorsett who are returning from injury and can help fill positions when players are moved around.
3) Become Sellers at the Trade Deadline
The third and final option is for the Blue Jackets to pull the plug and call it a day. Some have said that if the Blue Jackets cannot go out and beat the Blackhawks in Chicago tomorrow night, they should look to rebuild for next season and become sellers at the trade deadline.
Howson would likely clean house and try to get something in return for unrestricted free agents like Mathieu Garon, Jan Hejda, Chris Clark and Ethan Moreau. Players like Rostislav Klesla and Samuel Pahlsson could also be on the move if the Jackets were to become sellers.
In my opinion, I do not think that the Blue Jackets should throw in the towel just yet. Even if they do not pull off a deal before the deadline, there will still be a month of hockey left to play in the season, and as mentioned before, they are only six points out of the last spot. I have seen crazier things happen in this league before.
For example, look at Calgary. A couple of months ago the Flames were one of the worst teams in the Western Conference. There were consistent rumors that the team was looking to clean house and that star Jarome Iginla was on his way out. Now look at them. If the season ended today, the Flames would be in the eighth and final playoff spot.
Every time that the Blue Jackets have been counted out this year, they have battled back into the playoff picture. Just because Brassard is out for a few weeks does not mean that it needs to end now. This team knows what it takes to win, and lately it has been able to string together some wins. Whether or not they finish the season themselves or with someone else's help depends on Scott Howson and the next 11 days.
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