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Breaking: NHL captain sidelined for 2-4 weeks

Brutal injury for a team right in the thick of a close playoff race.

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According to a report from Columbus Blue Jackets reporter Brian Hedger, Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno will miss 2-4 weeks with a lower body injury, suffered late in the team’s loss to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday.

In the meantime, the team has recalled center Alex Broadhurst from the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters.

Ouch. Talk about a tough break for the Jackets. The surging squad has fought its way back into the Metropolitan Division race, but is currently just a point up on a Wild Card spot with the Philadelphia Flyers, New Jersey Devils and Florida Panthers hot on their heels. Suffice it to say, this is not good news for the Blue Jackets.

In fairness, Foligno has had another difficult year in 2017-18. You may remember that the big winger broke out for a remarkable 31 goals and 73 points back in 2014-15, before struggling with just 37 points the following year. Well, Foligno seemingly turned things around last season and put up 26 goals and 51 points… flash forward a year though and he has just 15 goals and 33 points this season, his worst total in six seasons.

Despite this step back in production, the Blue Jackets have been pretty adept at putting up points this season. The team’s offence is now led by the dynamic Artemi Panarin who has 25 goals and 69 points in 76 games this season. He’s supported by a strong secondary cast that includes Foligno, Cam Atkinson, Alex Wennberg, Oliver Bjorkstrand and rookie Pierre-Luc Dubois. On the back end Seth Jones and Zach Werenski comprise perhaps the most dynamic defense pairing in the NHL.

Still, no matter how you look at it, Foligno’s absence will be felt. He’s a leader and a clutch player who has the respect of all his teammates in Columbus.

Blue Jackets sign Gerbe to contract extension

Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen has announced the team has signed forward Nathan Gerbe to a two-year, two-way AHL/NHL contract extension.

Gerbe’s new deal will keep him in the Blue Jackets organization through the 2019-20 season and pays him an annual salary of $675,000 according to CapFriendly.com.

The 30-year-old speedster has played just two games for the Blue Jackets this season, but has managed two goals and 13 points in 18 games for the team’s AHL affiliate, the Cleveland Monsters. In 396 career NHL games split between the Blue Jackets, Carolina Hurricanes and Buffalo Sabres the diminutive Gerbe, who stands at just 5’, 5” tall and weighs just 178 pounds, has 58 goals and 138 points.

Prior to arriving on the scene in the NHL with the Sabres, the Oxford, MI native tore up the NCAA with Boston College from 2005 to 2008. He won a national championship with Boston and was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award as American’s top collegiate player in 2007-08 after putting up a remarkable 68 points in 43 games.

While it’s unlikely that Gerbe will be relied upon for anything more than secondary offense and some AHL depth, this has to be seen as a positive signing for the Blue Jackets organization. It’s rare in this day’s NHL to find veteran players who are willing to work their way back up to the NHL from the AHL and do so at minor league salary. In Gerbe, the Blue Jackets will have a talented and motivated player as they head down the stretch drive and into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.