The Columbus Blue Jackets announced that defenseman Adam Boqvist would miss the next six weeks due to a broken bone in his foot; leaving them with just six healthy defensemen, including recent call-up Gavin Bayreuther. To fix the situation, the club opted to recall 2022 sixth overall pick David Jiricek to help strengthen their blueline before Friday’s game against the Boston Bruins.
It’s tough news for Boqvist, who has struggled to find consistency throughout his young NHL career. Injuries have definitely played a big part in his struggles; he’s missed significant time in each of the last two seasons since being acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks. Hopefully he makes a speedy recovery and comes back ready to go.
As for Jiricek, I fully expect him to make his NHL debut either tomorrow night or in Sunday’s game at New Jersey. I have a hard time believing they would recall him to sit in the press box, as he’s been playing extremely well for the Cleveland Monsters, with 4 assists and a +2 rating through 5 games.
Jiricek is the top defense prospect in the system and one of the best in all of hockey. At 6-3, 210 pounds, he’s big, rangy, and very good on both sides of the puck. I don’t think it will take him long to be noticeable on the ice, as he’s an active player who loves to shoot the puck and throw his weight around. He can pass too:
It will be interesting to see what kind of usage he gets if he does get into the lineup. He’s the obvious choice to play alongside Zach Werenski on the top defense pair at some point in the future; but for the time being I think he’ll slot into a secondary role so he can see some NHL action. My best guess: he’ll spend time alongside Vladislav Gavrikov, whose steady veteran presence will help him settle in.
Nick Blankenburg has a hyperextended elbow and shouldn’t miss too much time, which is the best news for the Blue Jackets because he’s been so good. But in his absence, we’ll get a glimpse into what the future may provide with Jiricek, and a chance to gauge his development to see if he’s close to being a full-time player.
It’s always exciting to see high end prospects play in the NHL, and Jiricek is no exception. The Blue Jackets have struggled mightily throughout the early part of the season, but this is the kind of player that we’ll get to look forward to watching for years to come. His arrival should energize the team, and hopefully he can make a difference early on. While I don’t see him winning a full-time job at this point, I don’t think he’s too far off and could see him making a roster push next fall.
After games Friday and Sunday, the Jackets will head to Finland for their Global Series matchups against the defending Cup winners, the Colorado Avalanche, next week. Having a healthy Nick Blankenburg before those games could be crucial, as the team looks to find its footing and consistency early in the season.
Want your voice heard? Join the Union And Blue team!