On Wednesday, the Columbus Blue Jackets announced that left-winger Gustav Nyquist underwent successful surgery yesterday to repair a labral tear of his left shoulder.
Nyquist, who signed for four years in Columbus a season ago, posted 15-27-42 in 70 games. He's scheduled to earn $5.5M AAV for the next three seasons, per CapFriendly. The 31-year old Swede has played in 570 regular-season NHL games, tallying 146-202-348. After the UFA departures of Matt Duchene and Artemi Panarin, Nyquist was seen as a player that could come in and help replace at least some of the offense that left via free agency.
Gus Nyquist, out for six months after surgery, saw his underlying numbers crash in his first year with the Jackets, but he still projects as a decent second line winger. #CBJ pic.twitter.com/JQJ5GzlEXh— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) November 4, 2020
No announcement has been made regarding a start date for the upcoming NHL regular season, though this news means that Nyquist will surely at least start the season on the shelf.
The Blue Jackets have options internally, notably Emil Bemstrom, who could benefit from playing in a more offensive role alongside players like Cam Atkinson and Max Domi. The safer play (read: the wrong decision) would be to promote someone like Nick Foligno or Boone Jenner, noted not-current-top-six players, alongside Atkinson and Domi. The other option would be for the club to look externally, pursuing a current UFA winger like Mike Hoffman or Mikael Granlund, to name a few.
With Gus Nyquist (shoulder surgery) out 5-6 months, will Blue Jackets intensify their pursuit of Mike Hoffman? Had already been linked to him before.— Matt Larkin (@THNMattLarkin) November 4, 2020
Either way, the Blue Jackets will continue to monitor the UFA market as well as the salary cap situation of current salary-crunched teams, hoping to exploit a market inefficiency. If nothing materializes, the Blue Jackets proved a season ago that they can make the playoffs with an injury-riddled lineup.