The Columbus Blue Jackets have a crisis on their hands. Leading scorer Oliver Bjorkstrand has been ruled out 8-10 weeks with an ankle sprain and fracture. He left a recent game in a walking boot and crutches. This is Bjorkstrand’s second injury of the season.
— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) February 21, 2020
Oliver Bjorkstrand Out With Injury
Bjorkstrand is a big part of why Columbus is having one of the most surprising seasons in 2019-20. The 24-year-old has a team-high 21 goals and 36 points in 49 games. He also leads the team in shots while averaging the most ice time among Blue Jacket forwards at 17:56. His point-per-game pace is far above his career average and he could set a new high in points if this injury is only short-term.
The former third-round pick has excellent underlying numbers as well. His 55.4 percent Corsi For leads all Columbus forwards. Bjorkstrand also has the highest expected goals rate per Evolving Hockey but his scoring pace could slow based on how long the injury lingers. However, Bjorkstrand still has team-friendly cap hit of just $2.5 million through 2020-21 and plenty of time to help Columbus.
What This Means for the Future
This injury certainly hurts Columbus’ playoff chances. They are locked in a battle with several teams in the Metropolitan Division. Just two points separate the third-place team from sixth-place. The team is having a shockingly good season but cannot afford any slowdown as the postseason approaches. Bjorkstrand isn’t the only played hurt but he is one of the most important at this point in the season.
The Blue Jackets will rely on Pierre-Luc Dubois and Gustav Nyquist for even more offence while Bjorkstrand is out. Those two have a combined 29 goals but the team’s scoring takes a significant hit without Bjorkstrand. The Columbus farm system also lacks a true impact talent. The front office could acquire a top-six reinforcement before Monday’s trade deadline but they will have to move picks over prospects.