The Columbus Blue Jackets will be without Marian Gaborik for several weeks thanks to a sprained knee suffered on Thursday. The official window of recovery is four-to-six weeks, although head coach Todd Richards gave the Columbus Dispatch a more optimistic estimate of three-to-four.
Richards acknowledges the sting that comes with losing Gaborik, even though the winger’s been ineffective lately (zero goals and just one assist in his last eight games).
“There is a hole. But now we’re looking for somebody to step up and fill that hole,” Richards said. “There is ice time to be had. He was playing 16, 17 minutes, and important minutes: Power play, 6 on 5, whatever situation really dictated us needing a goal. There are going to be opportunities there for somebody.”
(Please take it easy on the first part of that quote, commenters.)
Gaborik, 31, cannot be happy about missing this time. His $7.5 million salary cap hit expires after this season, so sitting out a month or more means he’s losing out on earning opportunities.
You could also argue that the Slovakian winger might have played his last game for the Blue Jackets, as he could very well be a significant trade piece, especially since the word is that he hasn’t been discussing an extension with Columbus yet.
Scottie Upshall has parlayed his training camp tryout into a contract with St. Louis.
On Monday, the Blues agreed to a one-year, two-way deal with the veteran forward, worth $700,000 at the NHL level. The deal comes after Upshall spent all of training camp and the preseason impressing the Blues his speed and skating ability, no small feat for a 31-year-old veteran with over 500 NHL games on his odometer.
But where Upshall fits in the Blues lineup — and within the organization — remains to be seen.
The club has plenty of depth up front and Upshall isn’t coming off a terrific campaign, having scored just eight goals and 15 points in 63 games with Florida last season. That said, he showed enough to be just one of a handful of veterans on PTOs to score a contract.
Lawson Crouse is going back to junior. The big 18-year-old winger confirmed it today on Twitter.
Crouse was drafted 11th overall in June by the Florida Panthers. Despite the club’s belief that Crouse could make “an immediate impact” on the roster, he finished the preseason with just two shots and one assist in three games.
Crouse will return to the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs, with whom he’ll look to improve on his modest point totals from last season.
“I don’t think there’s any pressure on the kid,” coach Gerard Gallant said last week. “If he doesn’t make the team this year he goes back to junior … and will have a lot of success.”