Gaborik (sprained knee) expected to miss 4-6 weeks

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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.