The Columbus Blue Jackets got some unexpected news this week on the injury front. One of their veterans could be out for an extended period of time.
The team announced that center Brandon Dubinsky will be out indefinitely due to a wrist injury. Aaron Portzline of the Athletic then reported that Dubinsky’s injury could be long-term through his agent Kurt Overhardt.
“Based on what the doctors are telling us, with the trauma to the wrist, this has the potential to be a long-term injury,” Overhardt said. (from ‘Blue Jackets say Brandon Dubinsky out indefinitely with a wrist injury’, The AthleticNHL, Aaron Portzline – 9/25/19)
In Dubinsky, the Blue Jackets lose one of their most experienced players who always brought energy and was one of the heart & soul players of the team. They also lose one of their best faceoff guys. Although he played mostly on the fourth line, he is an important part of the team and will be missed. But life must go on.
So what happens next? What do we make of Dubinsky’s situation overall? What about the impact to the opening day roster? Let’s start with Dubinsky himself.
Is This Career Threatening?
We don’t know the exact details of this situation. We do know through GM Jarmo Kekalainen that the injury is to the same wrist Dubinsky had surgery on in May 2017.
Even though the surgery was in the offseason, it took him time to get back to normal. He was able to get back to a position where he played without much in the way of limitation.
Dubinsky appeared in three of the first four games this preseason. Honestly, that was a bit of a surprise to me for someone like him who’s had an extensive injury history. Although he looked healthy after playing in those games, he’s out now and it’s unclear when he’ll return.
It naturally makes you wonder if this will be career threatening. It’s important to note that no one has said it could end his career. But we do know it’s potentially long-term. Overhardt said that they’ll take time off and then re-evaluate.
Will surgery be an option again? Will rest be enough? There’s a lot in the air at this point. The first sign we need to watch for is what the team does by the roster deadline. Will Dubinsky be placed on long-term injured reserve? Stay tuned to see if the team makes any other updates on Dubinsky’s status. Unless otherwise told, we’ll assume he eventually comes back once they determine the course of action to get the care needed for his wrist.
Next Man Up
With Dubinsky likely on injured reserve come opening night, opportunity knocks for some Blue Jackets.
The main benefactors at this point are Emil Bemstrom and Sonny Milano. Each will draw into the lineup Friday against New Jersey in a game where the Blue Jackets are dressing most of their NHL roster. Along with Riley Nash, this could be your “fourth line” to start with Bemstrom seeing power-play time.
Each player has showed well enough to deserve this opportunity. With the Blue Jackets looking for offense any way they can, both Bemstrom and Milano can score. The question will be how much ice do they get if they make the roster? Can they work their way up the lineup? Also with Milano requiring waivers, waiving him seems out of the question as several teams could put in a claim. The team has to hope he takes that important next step.
Now where the Dubinsky injury opens an opportunity is for one of Marko Dano or Jacob Lilja. This is interesting and could go either way based on a couple of factors.
First, Lilja doesn’t need waivers for the AHL but Dano does. If that’s the factor, Dano would be the 13th forward while Lilja gets to play big minutes potentially in Cleveland.
But second, Lilja has had the better camp to this point in my sight. If we go by merit, Lilja would get the 13th forward spot. It’ll be curious to see how the team makes this decision. And who knows? Maybe a late charge by someone else will have them reconsidering. But expect the decision on the 13th forward to come down to Dano or Lilja.
At the end of the day, Dubinsky will be missed by the team. But at the same time, young players will get an opportunity to make an impression. It’s next man up no matter how much time Dubinsky has to miss. Thanks to the depth the Blue Jackets have, they can withstand this early hit and not miss a beat.
I am a fully credentialed writer who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Monsters and Erie Otters as well as the Ontario Hockey League and NHL Draft. The 2021-22 season will mark eight seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager.