What’s on next for the Columbus Blue Jackets?

The Blue Jackets will be without forward Zach Werenski, who is currently dealing with an undisclosed injury, and winger Jakub Vrana, who has a concussion.

That leaves center Jason Botterill, defenseman Jordan Leopold, goaltender Cam Atkinson, and forward Chris Kelly on the roster. 

The team will be in Nashville for a game against the Predators on Thursday, May 12, before playing the Predators again on Saturday, May 15. 

What will the Blue Jackets do with Werenskis absence?

Werenskas absence is not a huge loss for the Blue Jacket’s top six. 

If Werenska is unable to play, the Jackets will likely look to bolster the back end of their roster with the draft or free agency, with the latter two of which are expected to be on the horizon. 

Arenski is an elite offensive player who could be an excellent fit in Columbus’ system.

He’s a plus-two-point scorer, and has the skill set to be a top-pairing center. 

He’s a versatile defender who could help fill out the blue line. 

His skating ability and physical playmaking ability would make him an ideal fit with the Blue, who are known for their puck-moving game. 

Kelly is a big body who can provide defensive stability to the Blue’s top-four forward group. 

In his two seasons in Columbus, Kelly has averaged 12:30 of ice time per game and is tied for the team lead in plus/minus (+3) with a plus/3 rating. 

Botterill has had some struggles with injuries in the past, and may be an option for Columbus to try to add a more consistent scorer.

He would provide depth behind a young and promising prospect, and is a quality option on the blue liner. 

How does this affect the Blue? 

This is not something the Blue need to worry about.

They have plenty of scoring depth on the blueline, and Botteris health is the least of their concerns. 

There are two forwards who are projected to be first-round picks in the upcoming draft, Filip Forsberg and Noah Hanifin.

Forsberg has been a steady presence for the Jackets in the top six this season, and Hanifins game is as good as any in the league right now. 

At this point, the Blue have a lot of depth at forward, and will look to fill that with the pick they get in the next few weeks. 

Can the Blue afford to lose Botterills health? 

No, it’s not that big a deal.

The Blue will be able to play him as a fourth line forward in some games, and he could be the guy who fills the scoring void left behind by Botterishts absence. 

But there is no guarantee that the Blue will get the pick and play him on the third line.

If they’re in need of scoring, they should take a chance on an offensive defenseman or wing who can help fill that void. 

This article originally appeared on Sportsnet’s Columbus Dispatch and is republished here with permission.