The Columbus Blue Jackets are set to be without key defender Adam Boqvist for a long while after he sustained a broken foot during the humbling loss against the Arizona Coyotes. In a surprise move after placing Boqvist on IR, the Blue Jackets are calling up young defender and 2022 first-round pick David Jiricek to fill his place. Per Chris Johnston, the Blue Jackets recalled Jiricek on Wednesday in a rather surprising decision from the organization.

Jiricek is just 18 years old but boasts tremendous potential, evidenced by his early draft selection. The Czechia native is a big-bodied defender, standing in at 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, but he’s also a solid skater. His length enables him to make crucial stops on the defensive end and he’s capable of moving the puck in transition, too.

While he may need a while to get his feet wet in the NHL, the Blue Jackets felt he was ready enough to take Boqvist’s spot, and hopefully, stick around long-term.

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Boqvist is expected to miss at least six weeks of action, so Jiricek will have plenty of time to get settled and showcase his skills. A highly coveted prospect, Blue Jackets fans will get an early glimpse at a player whom the franchise hopes can become a defensive cornerstone in the future.

Jiricek’s first chance to get picked for the lineup will come on Friday when the Blue Jackets take on the Boston Bruins in Columbus. It’s unclear if they plan to throw him in the mix right away or wait a little longer before letting the 18-year-old make his NHL debut, but either way, there’s reason to be excited in Columbus following a brutal loss against the Yotes.