The Blue Jackets have placed forward Brian Gibbons on waivers, per TVA.
Gibbons, 26, has been sidelined since mid-December with a lingering knee injury that kept him out longer than his initial 2-3 week recovery timetable. The former Penguin, who signed with Columbus last summer on a one-year, $750,000 deal, has only appeared in 21 games for the Blue Jackets this season, scoring five points while averaging 14:09 TOI per game.
Will be curious to see if any team takes a chance on Gibbons. An undrafted free agent that worked his way up to the Penguins after two years in the minors, he occasionally played on a line with Sidney Crosby in Pittsburgh and showed good offensive flair, scoring five goals and 17 points in 41 games last season (and another two goals and three points in eight playoff appearances.)
Interesting name that could surface as we draw closer to the Mar. 2 trade deadline: Mark Letestu.
The 30-year-old center, in the last of a two-year, $2.5 million deal, doesn’t know if he’ll be back with the Blue Jackets next season and, given their playoff chances are currently between slim and none, Letestu could net some assets in a trade.
“We’ve had talks to say that, basically, we should have talks,” Letestu’s agent, Alain Roy, told the Columbus Dispatch. “There’s pretty much been nothing there. I’m trying to figure out what the team is going to do. I don’t suspect they’re going to make the playoffs at this point.
“So are they going to start moving guys? I’m kind of waiting to see, to be honest with you.”
While his current campaign hasn’t been all that impressive — missing significant time after abdominal surgery — Letestu has played well since coming over from Pittsburgh during the 2011-12 campaign. He actually led the team in goals (with 13) during the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign and was a key contributor during last year’s successful regular season, scoring 34 points while appearing in all 82 games, averaging 14:41 TOI per game.
In the club’s opening-round playoff loss to Pittsburgh, Letestu’s role increased (16:51 TOI) and his prowess in the faceoff circle proved vital for the Jackets.
Because of that — and the need for centers across the NHL — Letestu could be a commodity come trade deadline day. What’s more, the Jackets don’t really have much else to dangle; just four other players are UFAs at season’s end (Curtis McElhinney, Jack Skille, Brian Gibbons, Jordan Leopold) and none would have the same market value.
Artem Anisimov will try to turn around a nightmarish season on Thursday when the Jackets take on the Panthers at Nationwide.
Anisimov, who’s missed the last 23 games with a torn triceps, will draw back into the lineup for the first time since Nov. 29 and play just his 17th game of the year.
As mentioned, the Russian forward’s had a really tough campaign injury-wise. He missed seven games earlier in the year with a concussion, got healthy, played in seven contests, then suffered the torn triceps.
That string of poor health is indicative of what Columbus has dealt with all season long. No team has lost more man games due to injury and, heading into tonight’s tilt with Florida, the Jackets are missing Jeremy Morin, Sergei Bobrovsky, Boone Jenner, Brian Gibbons, Ryan Muray and Nathan Horton to various ailments.