COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Blue Jackets could start the season without as many as three of their top veteran players.
The club announced Tuesday that defenceman Adam Foote, left winger Fredrik Modin and centre Michael Peca would be put on injured reserve. The Blue Jackets open their season on Friday night at home against the Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks.
Foote has a strained hamstring, Modin has back spasms and Peca a strained groin. All three skated in practice on Monday and Tuesday and might still be cleared to play in the opener. The moves permitted the Blue Jackets to get down to the roster maximum of 23 players.
None of the three had played in a pre-season game but all three were happy with the progress they were making rehabbing their injuries.
"It was good to see those three guys on the ice," coach Ken Hitchcock said after Monday's practice. "We won't have a good read on any of them until later in the week, see if they last and if they're healthy after that first day out. They were able to go through a pretty long practice with no ill effects, but we'll see here in a few days and see how it turns out."
Foote said he was going for some water during an off-season practice when his skate blade caught in a rut in the ice. Even though he had not played in any pre-season games and had participated in few practices, he felt it wouldn't take much for him to get ready to play in a regular-season game.
Foote missed the Blue Jackets' last 17 games because of a sprained ankle.
"I would have liked to play one or two (pre-season) games," the Blue Jackets' captain said after Monday's workout. "But I've been through this before."
Peca said he had some soreness from his injury and wanted to take it easy rather than trying to do too much too soon. A free agent signing this summer, Peca missed the last 46 games a year ago with the Toronto Maple Leafs because of a broken leg.
"I felt good. The groin's fine. We did the right thing just letting it quiet down and heal up so there's no reoccurring issues with it," Peca said after Monday's practice. "I haven't played a game since December of last season, so you get into these practices and you start moving and you're using muscles that really haven't been activated for a long time. You get aches and pains, but I'm excited about Friday."
The Blue Jackets have 23 players on their roster and will carry three goaltenders: Fredrik Norrena, Pascal Leclaire and rookie Steve Mason.
If the three vets are unable to play soon, they will have to rely heavily on players such as young defencemen Marc Methot and Kris Russell and forwards Jared Boll and Curtis Glencross.
General manager Scott Howson also announced that the New Jersey Devils claimed defenceman Sheldon Brookbank off waivers.