The Blue Jackets have struggled mightily in terms of scoring goals this season, and one factor is currently being overlooked: the absence of Gustav Nyquist.
The Swedish winger tallied 15 goals (4th on the team) and 27 assists (second) last season, and he's been on the shelf for the entirety of the 2021 campaign due to a shoulder injury which he received surgery for in early November. He is projected to miss five to six months from the date of the operation, and the five-month window begins on April 4th.
"This was a chronic issue that Gus has been dealing with for a number of seasons," said GM Jarmo Kekalainen at the time of the surgery. "He has been able to perform at a high level, but a cyst in the area developed over time that has inhibited his ability to continue to do so. As a result, surgery was the best course of action and we look forward to having him back at full strength this season."
In a sign of good news, Nyquist is traveling with the Blue Jackets on their current road trip through Florida, and is practicing with the main group. In a sign of bad news, there's still no timetable for his return.
"The (trainers) will let me know when he's close," said John Tortorella on 97.1 The Fan's Rothman & Ice. "We just got off the ice here now. He worked out with us, he's involved in the battle drills, he's involved in the grinding part of the game to test it. Shoulders take time...they're injuries that some days it just feels great, and then it comes back and bites you the next day and you can't even lift it."
There's no question that the Blue Jackets would be a much better team with Nyquist in the fold. He's a dynamic, top-six forward that would give the Blue Jackets some of what they've been missing all year: playmaking ability. While Nyquist isn't a center, his return could permanently bump one of the younger guys like Liam Foudy or Alexandre Texier into a center role.
"We felt this was the year for him to get (the surgery) done, because we just weren't sure where the year was going to go as far as the schedule and all," said Tortorella. "But we miss him. Not too many people talk about this guy when you talk about the woes of this club this year. He's a stabilizer for us. We certainly miss him."
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