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 MLive.com “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.