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Clitsome done for the year?

Some sad (if not totally unexpected) news from today’s practice as reported by the Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline on twitter – when Scott Arniel was asked who was most likely to return from injury before the end of the regular season next weekend, and his list did not include defenseman Grant Clitsome.

Termed as “questionable” to return before the end of the season, Clitsome will not make the trip to DC with the club later today.

Injured after a knee on knee hit delivered by Minnesota’s Mikko Koivu on March 19th. At the time, it was called a minor injury, and the defenseman had been listed as day to day.

If that game marks the end of his season, it’s a true shame, as Clitsome had a breakout year with the Jackets, appearing in 28 games and scoring 4 goals and 14 assists, half of which came on the power play.

The guys over at Light The Lamp point out that since Clitsome went down the team has given up two more goals than the last 5 games he played in the lineup, but the bigger hit is clearly to the power play – the team’s lengthy power outage started a little over a week before in their home and home series with St. Louis, but Clitsome brought a level of mobility with the puck that the Jackets simply haven’t been able to replace.

A larger question is what happens after this season – as an unrestricted free agent, it seems likely that the team will wish to retain him, but will they be able to find common ground on a new deal? It’s certain he deserves a raise from his current $550,000 salary, and given the damage he was able to do in less than half a season, one can only wonder what he could do with a full season in the NHL – but the team also has to keep the lesson of Anton Stralman in mind that past performance is no guarantee of future production.

(For those scrambling to look for salary comparables, I’d suggest Anton Babchuk or Kurtis Foster, particularly with his power play production.)

In happier news, the coach tell Portzline that Anton Stralman and Kristian Huselius were likely to return, and will travel with the team to DC, while Chris Clark and Andrew Murray were possible to play before the end of the season as well.