First Josh Harding kicks a wall, breaks his foot and/or ankle and gets suspended. Then the Flyers lost Claude Giroux to a “lower body injury” that will cost him at least two weeks of camp. Then the Red Wings lost highly touted prospect Anthony Mantha for six-to-eight weeks to a fractured tibia. Then we hear that Evgeni Malkin is dealing with a “minor” injury that will cost him all of camp, though he’s expected to be ready for the Pens’ season opener. And lets not forget when everyone held their breath in Florida when Panthers top pick Aaron Ekblad suffered a concussion that he has since recovered from. And now the pain train chugs along through it’s next stop in Tampa Bay as everyone’s Calder favorite and newest hockey Jesus Jonathan Drouin will be out for three-to-four weeks with a “slightly fractured thumb.” Ah yes, tis the preseason o’ pain and misery for players and fantasy owners alike.
The good news here is that he doesn’t need surgery as there is no ligament or tendon damage, that’s good! Ah yes, silver linings in dark clouds. On a side note, I like how they add “slightly” to the injury report. I mean, I guess it’s better than “completely fractured thumb” or “completely severed thumb” so I suppose the distinction is important, but still, I had to laugh a bit at the coy way the Bolts are dealing with this injury. Initially it was just your standard “upper body injury” but that quickly changed to this. Oh, Stevie Y, the games you play. In any case he’ll miss the rest of camp, all of the preseason and the start of the regular season, that’s bad. Some folks might consider this “good timing” if there is such a thing with any injury, speculating that Drouin will be fine come November and he won’t miss any games that really count. While I agree that all signs point to that exact scenario, the fact that he’s going to miss games that don’t count is, in fact, part of the problem with this injury.
Drouin rocked the QMJHL for 105 points in 49 games and 108 points in 46 games in each of the last two seasons respectively, so he’s coming into the league with mile high expectations. Still, he’s still a rookie and rookies absolutely need to play games when games don’t count so this is valuable lost time for the kid. The sky isn’t falling, however, and he’s going to be fine sooner than later. I don’t expect it alters his expectations for this year by much, but those owners expecting to roll out their opening night lineups with Drouin as a starter will have to slot in a replacement to start the year. There was no guarantee that Drouin would start the season on Steven Stamkos‘ line anyway, so it remains to be seen who will take the wing opposite Ryan Callahan on Tampa’s top line. I figure he does some rehab in the AHL before getting the call up to the Bolts in late October, early November. Yzerman didn’t bring Drouin into the NHL last season because he wanted to be careful with his young star and you better bet your sweet butt he’s going to be cautious as hell with this injury too. Drouin still has the ability to post big numbers (for a rookie), but after this injury you should temper your expectations slightly for now. Just slightly! Relax!