Canada forward John Tavares is helped up off the ice by a trainer during the second period of a men's quarterfinal ice hockey game against Latvia at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. Tavares is out for the rest of the Olympics with an unspecified leg injury. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Injuries and Impact: How will Sochi affect the NHL trade deadline?


One of the biggest narratives from the Winter Olympics was the rash of injuries that befell NHL players. With that in mind, here’s a look at the key injuries suffered and what the ramifications might be.

Islanders: John Tavares, torn MCL (out for season)

Yes, Tavares is a star and yes, this is a catastrophic injury. But the Islanders were a longshot to make the playoffs when he was healthy, meaning the biggest impact Tavares’ injury might have is on the speed in which GM Garth Snow begins selling.

According to Newsday, Thomas Vanek and Andrew MacDonald are likely to be moved, and one has to think there’s a fairly substantial market for both. Vanek’s a gamebreaker, the type of offensive talent that could inject life into a sagging attack; MacDonald, in the final year of a deal that pays $550,000 annually, is one of the best bargains on the market given he plays over 26 minutes a night and leads all Isles d-men in scoring.

Will Snow wait to see how the Tavares-less Isles respond out of the Olympic break? Or will he deal as soon as possible?

Red Wings: Henrik Zetterberg, back (could miss rest of reg. season)

It’s possible Zetterberg will miss Detroit’s remaining 24 games and try to return for the playoffs — assuming Detroit makes it to the playoffs. The Red Wings’ streak of 22 consecutive postseason appearances is in danger, so getting to the dance is the primary goal. Will GM Ken Holland make a play to get there?

The Zetterberg injury might force his hand. Injured center Stephen Weiss is being looked at to fill the void, a dicey proposition given how poorly Weiss’ first year in Motown has gone. The Wings could get some cap relief by putting Zetterberg on LTIR — he carries a $6.08 million hit — but Holland sounds like he’s loathe to part with prospects and young talent for rentals, telling “we have to play our way into being a buyer,” and “I don’t know that there’s players available on the market that are better than the kids we got.”

Rangers: Mats Zuccarello, hand (3-4 weeks)

This injury was huge blow for the Blueshirts as Zuccarello leads the team in scoring, with 43 points. Interestingly, the Rangers were in the midst of numerous trade rumors prior to Zuccarello getting hurt — involving Dan Girardi and captain Ryan Callahan, most notably — and the team raised even eyebrows on Sunday when reports surfaced it had inquired about Tampa Bay captain Martin St. Louis.

St. Louis would certainly add an offensive dimension the Rangers lack, and does have a similar playing style to Zuccarello. That said, reports out of Tampa Bay say GM Steve Yzerman won’t trade his captain — even with whispers that St. Louis demanded a trade following his Team Canada snub.

Don’t be surprised if the Rangers keep pressing for a deal, possibly elsewhere. GM Glen Sather has a history of making splashes at the deadline — last year, he flipped Marian Gaborik to Columbus and acquired Ryane Clowe from San Jose.

Panthers: Aleksander Barkov, knee; Tomas Kopecky, head (both indefinitely)

The Barkov injury won’t affect much, as he’s one of the team’s young cornerstones (and Florida isn’t making the playoffs this year anyway.) The Kopecky injury could be costly, however — he, along with a number of Florida veterans, were considered to be in play at the deadline.

Kopecky had a solid lockout-shortened ’13 campaign, tying a career-high with 15 goals despite playing just 47 games, and has quite a bit of playoff experience having won a Cup with Chicago in ’10. He could be a decent pickup for a team looking for depth, so it’ll be interesting to see the severity of his injury (suffered a concussion on a hit while playing for Slovakia.)

Blue Jackets: Fedor Tyutin, ankle (2-3 weeks)

Tyutin logs some heavy minutes on the Columbus back end and, with the Jackets chasing a playoff berth, adding a depth defenseman might be necessary to fill the void.

Here’s more, from the Columbus Dispatch:

The loss of Tyutin also could modify the Jackets’ plan for the March 5 trade deadline. John Davidson, the team’s president of hockey operations, was in Springfield this weekend but expects to discuss deadline strategy with general manager Jarmo Kekalainen this week.

Hitchcock going to more aggressive attack for Blues

Ken Hitchcock
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ST. LOUIS (AP) After three straight first-round playoff exits, the St. Louis Blues have learned to temper expectations.

They have been consistently among the NHL’s best in the regular season and realize it is past time to build something for the long haul. The sting still lingers from the latest failure, against the Minnesota Wild last spring.

“We’re all disappointed, everybody can agree on that,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “It’s never easy to kind of think about your failures, but we grow every time it happens.”

Management isn’t ready to tear it all down yet.

“We play, in my opinion, one of the toughest if not the toughest division in the NHL, and we’ve finished first or second in the last four years,” forward Alexander Steen said. “So we have an extremely powerful team.”

Maybe a change in strategy will be enough: Coach Ken Hitchcock is back with a mandate for a more aggressive, even reckless, style of play from a roster that hasn’t changed appreciably.

“We’re coming hard from the back and we’re coming hard to see how close we can get to the attack,” Hitchcock said. “I think it’s where the game’s at; I think it’s where the game’s going to go.”

The 63-year-old Hitchcock is pushing forward, too, unwilling to dwell on the flameouts. Coach and players agree that would be “wasted energy.”

“My opinion is when you sit and think about the past, you do yourself no good,” Hitchcock said. “If you learn from the past, that’s when you do yourself a whole bunch of good.”

There were only two major roster casualties. Forward Troy Brouwer came from Washington in a trade for fan favorite T.J. Oshie. Defenseman Barret Jackman, the franchise career leader in games, wasn’t re-signed.

“If you were expecting 23 new faces to be on the roster this year, I don’t think that was realistic,” captain David Backes said. “We’re going to miss those guys in the room and on the ice, but there has been some changeover and I think it’s pretty significant.”

Things to watch for with the Blues:

GOALIE SHUFFLE: Just like last year, there’s no true No. 1 with Brian Elliott and Jake Allen sharing duties. The 25-year-old Allen missed a chance to seize the job last spring when he failed to raise his level in the playoffs.

TOP THREAT: Vladimir Tarasenko had a breakout season with 37 goals and was rewarded with an eight-year, $60 million contract. The 23-year-old winger is by far the Blues’ most dangerous scoring option and said he won’t let the money affect his play. “I never worry about it,” Tarasenko said. “If you play good, you play good.”

NEW FACES: Brouwer and center Kyle Brodziak add a physical element that was perhaps lacking a bit last season. Brouwer has three 20-plus goal seasons and Brodziak, acquired from Minnesota, fills a checking role. Veteran forward Scottie Upshall got a one-year, two-way deal after being coming to camp as a tryout. Rookie forward Robby Fabbri, a first-round pick last year, will get an early look. Another promising youngster, forward Ty Rattie, begins the year at Chicago of the AHL.

RECOVERY WARD: Forward Jori Lehteri bounced back quickly from ankle surgery and opens the season without restrictions. Another forward, Patrik Berglund, could miss half of the season following shoulder surgery.

TRACK RECORD: The Blues won the Central Division last season and Hitchcock, fourth on the career list with 708 regular-season wins, has consistently had the team near the top of the standings. “He is our coach, tough cookies if you don’t like it,” Backes said. “From my experience, he puts together one heck of a game plan.”

It looks like Havlat won’t make Panthers

Martin Havlat

As PHT’s mentioned before, the Florida Panthers stand as a fascinating contrast between youth and experience.

Let’s not kid ourselves, though; fresh faces usually beat out gray beards, at least when it comes to teams that are still trying to build toward contender status.

While it’s by no means official, two Panthers beat writers – the Miami Herald’s George Richards and the Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Harvey Fialkov – report that the Panthers are likely to pass on Martin Havlat.

It wasn’t just about the likes of Jonathan Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad leading the charge. Other young Panthers (maybe most notably Quinton Howden and Connor Brickley) made the team, thus making Havlat less necessary.

One would assume that it might be tough for the 34-year-old to find work, at least if he insists upon only an NHL deal.

Health issues continue to dog him, but he’s no longer one of those guys who tantalizes with talent when he is healthy enough to play.

Havlat also doesn’t really bring much to the table defensively. While other veterans can kill penalties and show a little more verstaility, Havlat’s greatest selling point is scoring.

Could this be it for a solid career that may nonetheless end with a “What if?” or two?