Although we’re more than a month away from the NHL's play-in round getting started, the Columbus Blue Jackets made a pair of roster moves on Thursday.
The return of Jones will be huge for the Blue Jackets' back end. He led all Columbus players in ice time at 25:17 per game. While that represented a small dip compared to a year ago, that number was still high enough to rank seventh among all blueliners league-wide this season.
Jones should step back into the No. 1 role and play in all situations. Not many teams welcome back an injured player who will have as big of an impact as Jones. He had missed the final 14 games before the pandemic shut down the season due to an ankle injury.
Jones’ offensive numbers dipped this season, with 30 points in 56 games, his lowest point-per-game rate in any of his full seasons with the Blue Jackets. However, he made a big impact late last season when the Blue Jackets made it to the second round of the playoffs. He’s certainly capable of doing that again.
At the very least, Jones will take some of the pressure off Zach Werenski (who potted a career-best 20 goals this season) in the attacking zone.
After being a depth player the past couple of years, Kukan had stepped into a regular spot on the Blue Jackets' third pairing before a knee issue caused him to miss the final 29 regular-season games. Kukan wound up playing 33 games this season, collecting five points (1-4-5) while averaging just shy of 16 minutes per night.
He may not be able to reclaim that regular role after being off for so long, but at the very least he’ll represent capable depth.
While not mentioned in this announcement, the Blue Jackets are also expected to welcome back forwards Cam Atkinson, Oliver Bjorkstrand, and Nathan Gerbe for their best-of-five series against the Maple Leafs. Alexandre Texier currently remains on IR along with Josh Anderson and Brandon Dubinsky. Anderson and Dubinsky are not expected to return this season.
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