The Columbus Blue Jackets will give former Blue Jacket defenseman Jan Hejda a professional tryout (PTO) with the club’s AHL affiliate, the Lake Erie Monsters, according to Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch.
Portzline reports that Hejda is likely to take the tryout and join the team in Cleveland on Sunday. He’s the second player that would be signed to a tryout with the Lake Erie Monsters this week if he signs. Manny Malhotra took a PTO on Thursday and made his Monsters debut on Thursday in a 4-2 loss to the Iowa Wild.
Hejda, who played for the Colorado Avalanche last year, took a tryout with the Blackhawks during training camp, but was ultimately released. He will step into the AHL club with a lot of turmoil in the NHL. The Blue Jackets need to go on a serious run if they’re going to have any kind of playoff ambitions.
Their 10-16-1 record has them nine points back from the Florida Panthers in the last wild card spot, with the Panthers having a game in hand.
In recent games the Jackets have suited up Justin Falk and Andrew Bodnarchuk as the third defensive pairing, leaving Dalton Prout to be a healthy scratch consistently. Tortorella, not one known for being effusive with praise, has praised the pairing recently. But knowing that pairing — the 27-year-old Bodnarchuk has played 10 NHL games — it wouldn’t be surprising to learn that their luck runs out and, with the team appearing to sour on Prout, the Jackets need to look to the AHL.
In the AHL, the team has a number of prospects who the team could call on, like Michael Paliotta and John Ramage, among others, but no one that’s a lock to jump into the NHL and make an impact when the team is looking for some kind of consistency.
Hejda, 37, is in the twilight of his career, but if the team can find third pairing consistency out of him, it might be a big win for the team as they seek to not take chances, but to go on a run and rekindle their hopes for the 2015-16 season.
Hejda played 81 games with the Avs last season, scoring one goal and 12 assists. He’s a veteran of 627 games splits between the Avalanche, Blue Jackets and Edmonton Oilers, spending 302 of those games with Columbus.
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Dustin Nelson is the News Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s a contributor to Hockey Prospectus, Hockey Wilderness, and writes a column for Rotowire. He’s also written for Gone Puck Wild, Wild Xtra, InDigest, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, Tiny Mix Tapes, Prefix Magazine & other publications. Have a tip? Email him at dlukenelson[at]gmail[dot]com.