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CBJ Today: Making the tough decision

Columbus had to bite the bullet and make the smart choice with Nyquist, Werenski

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider /

Each weekday this season, will post CBJ Today, a look at news, notes, analysis and fun stuff from around the Blue Jackets world. It's everything you need to know if you're a fan going into the day. 

The Daily Buzz 

After an entertaining game Monday night across the highway from the Everglades, the Blue Jackets and Panthers will do it again tonight in Sunrise. Florida captured a 4-2 victory last night that continued the CBJ losing streak, but the Jackets are doing their best to break the skid.  

See You Nyxt Year 

Not sure if that headline quite works, but CBJ head coach John Tortorella said over the weekend that veteran forward Gustav Nyquist will not return this season even as he continues working his way back from a shoulder injury that has cost him the entire campaign. 

It's something general manager Jarmo Kekalainen hinted at on trade deadline Monday, but it was worth noting that Tortorella confirmed it. The reasoning is partly because Nyquist's rehab continues, and also partly because with the Blue Jackets out of playoff contention, there's no reason to rush him back into the lineup.  

"It was a short conversation with me," Tortorella said. "I said, 'You're not playing.' You make the decision for him." 

Despite taking part in CBJ practices the past few weeks, Nyquist is yet to see the ice this season, as he underwent the shoulder surgery in November. It was a big transition for Nyquist, who played in 82 games in 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2017-18, plus all 70 games a year ago. In fact, when he signed with Columbus, one of the big benefits was expected to be his dependability, but the shoulder injury simply didn't go away, so it was finally time to address it late last year. 

In his first season with the Blue Jackets last year, he had 15 goals and 42 points in 70 games while playing a top-six role with power-play time and the first extended penalty killing work in his nine-year NHL career.  

He's been a consistent 20-goal scorer in his NHL career, but Nyquist also brings an underrated strength on the puck and intelligence to his game as well. 

"Even when we had a lot of our guys still here before all the injuries and the trade deadline, no one spoke on him as far as how much we miss him as far as being a stabilizing influence in the locker room," Tortorella said. "He's such a versatile player for me on the bench. So he was an important guy, and we haven't had him from the whole start of the year. Not too many people talked about him, but that's a big hole. 

"He was so important for us. I used him up and down the lineup all over the place. It was a huge blow for us as we started the year, but he needed to get this done. There's no sense in him coming back and playing right now. Same thing with (Zach Werenski). Z worked through stuff that I'm not sure where it was going to go during the year. It was time for him to go out, too, so he can get ready for next year." 

Speaking of Werenski, in case you missed it, the Blue Jackets announced Sunday that the defenseman underwent successful surgery for a sports hernia last week, meaning he should be ready to go for next season in the coming weeks. That's certainly good news for the Jackets and Werenski as well. 

Family Guys

It's been quite a year for CBJ babies. First, Riley Nash and his wife, Clare, had their first child (son Rhett) in February before he was traded to Toronto. Later, Vladislav Gavrikov and wife Anastasia had their first child (daughter Miroslava) in March. 

Forward Zac Dalpe and wife Cassandra are expecting their third boy soon, while new call-up Gavin Bayreuther and his wife, Erin, are expecting a baby as well in July. 

And to hear Bayreuther tell it, that brings a little extra emotion into play with his entrance into the CBJ lineup for his Jackets debut last night. 

"I'm very excited," Bayreuther, who played 19 games with Dallas in 2018-19, said before the game Monday. "I worked very hard the past two years to get back to a moment like this. I now have a family, a kid on the way, so it means a little more. 

"The cliché saying you have to put food on the table for your kid, this is such a cool opportunity. I was telling my wife yesterday when there is a baby on the way, something (inside) really does help you and I'm really excited for that." 

Bayreuther is a good story, someone who has scratched and clawed to get where he is. A 26-year-old native of New Hampshire, Bayreuther played four seasons at St. Lawrence University, being named an assistant captain his senior season. He's spent part of the last five seasons at the AHL level, only playing in the NHL two seasons ago in his cameo with the Stars. 

So far this year in Cleveland, he posted a goal and nine assists -- including four in one game recently -- for 10 points in 10 games. When asked about the strong suit of his game, Bayreuther said he can bring some offense, as evidenced by 101 points in 208 AHL games. 

"Honestly, I just like to make plays out there," Bayreuther said. "I don't want the puck to die on my stick. I want to get the puck up to the forwards' sticks and make plays and get shots on net, shoot the puck. If there is a lane, I like to get it on net. Good things happen when the puck gets to the net." 

Bayreuther played just over 13 minutes in his CBJ debut, finishing plus-1 and getting into a scrap with Panthers forward Sam Bennett after a big hit Bayreuther delivered on Anthony Duclair. 

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