Poolers: News from the infirmary

All hopes were allowed at the Columbus Blue Jackets this season with the arrival of Johnny Gaudreau in Ohio, but the celebrations did not even last half a game. The injury of Patrick Laine should hurt the statistics of the newcomer very badly.

Laine sprained an elbow in the second period of the Blue Jackets’ first game this season and is expected to be out for three to four weeks. An injury that comes at a very bad time, since the trio that Gaudreau and Laine completed with Boone Jenner was just beginning to find chemistry. Everything will have to start over.

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It’s a shame for the poolers who had bet on Laine, since the arrival of Gaudreau seemed to put him in perfect position to experience an offensive explosion. The latter’s passing skills formed a perfect combination with the Finn’s sniper qualities to enable him to find the plateau of 40 goals… and perhaps even 50, according to the most optimistic.

It’s also a shame for the poolers who had chosen Gaudreau. Realistically, few expected him to be as productive in Columbus as he was with the Calgary Flames last season, when his 115 points tied him for second in NHL scoring. A production hovering around 90 points seemed more logical.

The loss of Laine is one of the many factors that will cause Gaudreau’s production to drop this season. Integrating a new team and discovering a new city will inevitably create distractions. Moreover, the striker and his wife, Meredith, have been new parents since September 30. For parents, a birth inevitably comes with sleepless nights and vastly different priorities, and the Blue Jackets expect there to be an impact.

« He just had a kid, and nobody really talks about it, » head coach Brad Larsen said. “Everyone congratulates you when it happens, but we know what it means. Being a parent is demanding. There is the human factor in all this, in addition to having moved. He will likely need more than one game to get going. Johnny is adapting well, things are going well for him and we are looking to the future. »

Gaudreau has amassed three points in as many games since the start of the season, but it shouldn’t be a surprise if his production were to fall below 80 points this year.

Danforth in Laine’s Chair

Justin Danforth is the one Larsen chose to take Laine’s place with Gaudreau and Jenner, but also on the power play. A surprising decision, since the 29-year-old forward has only 48 games of experience in the NHL. Last year, he had 10 goals and 14 points in 45 games in a Columbus uniform.

In two games in his new role, he collected one assist.

Video: CBJ@PIT: Danforth puts Columbus on the board

If Danforth fails to seize his chance, which player could end up on the first line? The strength of this line was having an excellent scorer with an outstanding playmaker. However, players who have the compass in the eye are not legion among the Blue Jackets.

Gustav Nyquistwho can play on both wings, has not scored 25 goals in a single season since 2014-15. Jakub Voracek has never done it in 15 campaigns, he who was limited to six goals in 79 games last year.

Yegor Chinakhov, a 2020 first-round pick (21st), could be an option. His shooting is precisely his main asset, even if it did not necessarily appear in his first season in the NHL last year. He scored seven goals in 62 games in a limited role, while he was the 14th most used forward in Columbus on average (12:30), but he had a thunderous preseason schedule with six goals in as many parts. The only obstacle is that, like Nyquist and Voracek, he is left-handed.

Larsen could go so far as to mutate Jack Roslovic on the right wing – where he has played in the past, he who is right-handed. But like all previously named players, the 25-year-old striker never reached the 25-goal mark.

Finally, there is the promising Kent Johnson. The fifth pick in the 2021 draft has played center and left wing in recent years and was expected to start the season on the left, but on Friday and Saturday, it’s on the right wing of the third line, with Nyquist and cole sillinger, which he played. He picked up a pass.

Will the Blue Jackets dare to throw him in the mouth of the wolf by using him on his opposite side on the first line, against the opposing best players? It is a risky strategy. Plus, Johnson, like all the other options, is first and foremost a game maker.

As you can see, there’s no obvious answer to the question, which is why Larsen is trying his luck with Danforth. The situation will be one to watch for poolers, since the player who ends up with Gaudreau and Jenner as well as on the first power play will be very valuable until Laine returns.

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