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Blue Jackets face early challenge overcoming injuries

Sedlak to miss approximately six weeks as Jackets attempt to fill the void

by Brian Hedger JacketsInsider / BlueJackets.com

The Blue Jackets are getting tested by injuries early.

Already without defenseman Gabriel Carlsson, who's on injured reserve retroactive to Oct. 13, the Jackets must now fill a void in the middle of their fourth line.

The team announced Monday that Lukas Sedlak, who centers that line, sustained an ankle injury at practice earlier in the day and will miss approximately six weeks.

"It's an unfortunate injury, and we'll miss him," Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said. "We look forward to his return, when he's healthy."

Sedlak, 24, played in the Blue Jackets' first eight games and has two goals (2-0-2). He made his NHL debut last season, finishing with 13 points (seven goals, six assists) in 62 games.

Sedlak was placed on injured reserve. Forward Markus Hannikainen was recalled from the Cleveland Monsters of the American Hockey League, after being assigned there Friday to make room for the return of forward Boone Jenner.

It's unclear how Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella will initially replace Sedlak. The first clues might emerge Tuesday at practice. Columbus doesn't have a lot of proven depth at the center position, but there are some interesting possibilities.

Jenner has experience at center from his pre-professional days, but moving from left wing of the second line to the middle of the fourth line would significantly reduce his ice time - and the Jackets just got him back from an injury that cost him the entire preseason and first seven games.

Zac Dalpe is another possibility. Dalpe was replaced by Matt Calvert at right wing on the fourth line after Jenner's return, but could find himself back in the lineup in the middle of that line Wednesday against the Buffalo Sabres (8 p.m., NBCSN, 97.1, BlueJackets.com).

Rookie Pierre-Luc Dubois is yet another option.

Dubois, whom the Blue Jackets selected third overall in the 2016 NHL Draft, centered Columbus' top line at the Traverse City Prospects Tournament in September. He stood out among a field of quality prospects using his size, physicality and skill.

Tortorella prefers to use Dubois at left wing, where he's played on the second, third and fourth lines, but there's always a chance he moves back to the middle.

Prior to being assigned to Cleveland, Hannikainen hadn't played since the second game of the season. His late turnover in that game led directly to Jeff Skinner scoring a game-tying goal that sent the game to overtime.

Tortorella said his absence from the lineup was more about Dalpe's play at right wing on the fourth line, next to Sedlak. Others who've spent time on that line are Sonny Milano, who leads the team with five goals, and Calvert - who scored his first goal of the season Saturday against the Los Angeles Kings.

News & Notes

  • DUBINSKY MISSES PRACTICE: Brandon Dubinsky wasn't at practice Monday due to a personal matter. Tortorella said he expects the veteran center to return to practice Tuesday. Dubinsky, who has one assist in eight games, centers the Jackets' third line and averages 16:37 per game.
  • SCHROEDER RECALLED: Forward Jordan Schroeder was recalled Monday from his conditioning assignment with Cleveland. It's unclear what's next for Schroeder. If the Jackets want to assign him back to Cleveland, he must clear waivers. Schroeder, 27, was acquired from the Minnesota Wild on June 23 for center Dante Salituro. He was loaned to Cleveland on the conditioning assignment Oct. 12, and had two shots and two penalty minutes in three games.
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