The Columbus Blue Jackets have made the playoffs each of the past four seasons, however they have been eliminated in the first round on three of those occasions. After a 5-5-3 start this season, the Blue Jackets are fifth in a tight Central Division. The team will have to work through a short period without the services of Zach Werenski.
In the third period of a 4-3 win over the Dallas Stars on February 4th, Werenski sustained a lower-body injury. The 23-year-old defenseman was placed on the injured reserve on February 6. To make room for Werenski, forward Liam Foudy has moved from the taxi squad to the roster.
Although the duration of the injury should be short-term, the Blue Jackets have a significant hole to fill. Werenski is averaging over 24 minutes per ice time per game, which is second on the team. Only fellow defenseman Seth Jones has seen more ice time. Werenski also has four points in 12 games.
The Blue Jackets are already among the worst defensive teams in the league. Only six teams have allowed more goals to this point. In addition to Jones and Werenski, the other defensemen on the team include Michael Del Zotto, David Savard, Deal Kulkan, Vladislav Gavrikov, Scott Harrington, and Gabriel Carlsson. Only Savard, Gavrikov, and Del Zotto are averaging over 15 minutes of ice time per game. Only Del Zotto and Kulkan have a plus/minus above zero. Only Del Zotto and Kulkan have a plus/minus above zero.
The move to call up a forward may appear a bit surprising considering the Blue Jackets defensive woes. However, the Blue Jackets are also struggling to score, averaging under three goals per game so far this season. If the injury to Werenski were deemed long-term, the better option would have been to call up a defenseman or look to make a trade. In the meantime, the team will look for others to step up, play additional time and hold down the fort until Werenski returns.