Injuries continue to plague NHL stars in preseason action. The two most recent injured players are forwards Jordon Staal of the Carolina Hurricanes and Jonathan Drouin of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Both injuries came as a result of some pretty weird collisions. Staal got beat by defenseman Josh Georges and instead of going for the puck Staal chose to haul Gorges down. As a result, Georges fell awkwardly on Staal and now Staal has a broken right leg.
Drouin collided with somebody in the corner during practice and fell awkwardly on his hand. Now the rookie sensation has a fractured right thumb and is sidelined for three to four weeks. These are two guys that were expected to carry their teams’ to success this year. Now it’s up to the coaching staff to try and fill the void these guys have left behind.
It’s a shame and a huge disappointment to the teams, fans and players that these injuries occurred. I was really looking forward to seeing Drouin and Stamkos play on the same line. I know that will still happen but now Drouin misses all his preparation time. Now he’ll have to work even harder to impress the coaches and earn his spot on the roster. However, Drouin has enough raw talent that the Lightning will keep him around.
He’s got explosive speed, a wicked wrist shot and isn’t afraid of anybody. He does all the little things right, anticipates the play and is a safe bet when it comes to battling players one on one in my opinion. It won’t take him long to become accustomed to the NHL.
The challenge for Drouin will be finding a way to bounce back quickly and not get nervous. An advantage that he has is that he can play on any of the Lightning’s offensive lines. He may end up playing on the third line with occassional opportunities on the powerplay before moving to the top lines.
Regardless, Drouin has the potential to accumulate at least 30 points or more this season. The Lightning have more than enough depth in their roster to deal with this setback. Stamkos, Callahan, Fillipula and Palat will be able to get the Lightning in a good position in the standings before Drouin returns.
Jordon Staal Stalled
The Carolina Hurricanes will have a much harder time replacing Jordon Staal. The team doesn’t have that many other experienced centers. They will have to lean on Eric Staal even more now. Jiri Tlusty will have to move from playing left wing into center. He’s played center in the past with the Toronto Maple Leafs. That tactical change will at least provide the Hurricanes with some time to re-evaluate the situation. This injury will also give rookie forwards Riley Nash and Brody Sutter a chance to prove their worth and possibly claim a spot on the team’s starting roster.
It’s going to be a very slow start for the Hurricanes as a result of this injury. The defense is going to have to get far more involved. Defenseman Andrea Sekera will have to supply consistent points on a regular basis again this season. The team does have a considerable amount of depth in the defensive end. The combined experience of John Michael Liles, Ron Hainsey and Tim Gleason will certainly help the Hurricanes cope with this setback.
Forward Jeff Skinner and Alexander Semin are going to have to carry this team and tally most of the points in the early stages of the season. I’m confident that these guys will be up to the task. They combined for 96 points last season and there is no doubt in my mind that they’ll accumulate close to that or more this season. I can’t wait to see how the Hurricanes coaching staff deal with this unfortunate setback.