More like, who isn’t?
It seems like every NHL team has an injured star player sitting on the sidelines nursing an injury and most teams are missing multiple key performers.
Take the “Top 50 Players in the NHL” story in THN’s 2009-10 Yearbook. It’s an annual feature in which THN ranks the league’s 50 best players entering the season. Right now, 12 of the 50 players are out with an injury, while another five have just returned to action. In other words, one-third of the NHL’s very best players – in THN’s opinion – are either hurt or just coming back from an injury.
Who’s out? Oh, just Alex Ovechkin (No. 1), Evgeni Malkin (No. 3), Roberto Luongo (No. 6), Eric Staal (No. 8…granted, we may have ranked him a little high), Ilya Kovalchuk (No. 17), Daniel Sedin (No. 19), Marc Savard (No. 21) and Andrei Markov (No. 25). Not to mention, Marian Hossa (No. 30), Shea Weber (No. 35), Simon Gagne (No. 48) and Johan Franzen (No. 49).
The good news is, Pavel Datsyuk (No. 4), Patrick Kane (No. 34), Martin Havlat (No. 41), Marian Gaborik (No. 42) and Jason Spezza (No. 47) are back in action.
These guys, however, remain in injury-induced limbo:
• A-Team goalies Jean-Sebastien Giguere (Anaheim) and Kari Lehtonen (Atlanta). And in both cases, there’s a young upstart taking full advantage of the opportunity: Jonas Hiller for the Ducks and Thrashers rookie Ondrej Pavelec.
• Islanders netminder Rick DiPietro is also out. But that hardly counts as news. Same goes for Philadelphia’s $7.5-million man, Daniel Briere.
• Edmonton’s defense corps. Well, Ladislav Smid and Lubomir Visnovsky have resumed playing after apparent bouts with the swine flu – the Alberta Health Office must have more Flames fans than Oilers supporters – but rugged customer Sheldon Souray is still recovering from a concussion while Steve Staios just returned from the same ailment.
• Speaking of head injuries, don’t forget Florida winger David Booth and Colorado agitator Darcy Tucker. Or Minnesota playmaker Pierre-Marc Bouchard. Or Chicago captain Jonathan Toews. Or…
• Speaking of swine flu, Boston center David Krejci has been quarantined and is out of the B’s lineup. With Savard recovering from a foot injury, that means the Bruins are relying on Patrice Bergeron – who knows a thing or two about being injured – as the focal point of the offense. Mauler Milan Lucic is also sidelined, with a broken finger.
• Besides Malkin, the defending Stanley Cup-champion Pittsburgh Penguins are missing lynchpin defenseman Sergei Gonchar and Maxime “Two Goals In Game 7” Talbot. Then again, Gonchar missed most of last season and things worked out pretty well for the Pens, so maybe his fractured wrist was a strategic move rather than a bad break.
• Besides Luongo and Daniel Sedin, the Canucks are without forwards Pavol Demitra, Steve Bernier and Ryan Johnson and call-ups Michael Grabner, Jannik Hansen and Alex Bolduc.
• The Sharks are soldiering on without forwards Devin Setoguchi, Joe Pavelski and Torrey Mitchell as well as captain and veteran blueline leader Rob Blake.
• Who else? New Jersey just got Patrik Elias back after missing all season, while top Devils defenseman Paul Martin and shutdown forwards Jay Pandolfo and Rob Niedermayer are more recent additions to the injury list.
• Columbus winger Kristian Huselius hurt his arm in practice, joining hobbled winger Fredrik Modin on the sidelines. At least defenseman Jan Hejda is back on the blueline after missing three weeks.
• Along with Franzen, the Wings will be without Valtteri Filppula until mid-December thanks to a broken wrist. That’s a tough one to swallow for a Detroit team that also lost Hossa, Jiri Hudler and Mikael Samuelsson to free agency last summer.
• The Blues are another club with multiple missing men. Eric Brewer is finally playing again after being waylaid by a back injury – he played just 28 games last season and missed the first 10 games this year – but fellow blueliners Barret Jackman and Carlo Colaiacovo are out, as well as forwards Andy McDonald and Alexander Steen.
Sam McCaig is The Hockey News’ senior copy editor and a contributor to THN.com. His blog appears every weekend and his column, From The Point, appears regularly.
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