The Edmonton Oilers, clinging to faint playoff hopes, will be without cetner Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for the final week of the regular season.
Nugent-Hopkins has a labral tear in his left shoulder that likely will need surgery. He was headed to Cleveland on Sunday for an examination.
If surgery is required, the recovery is expected to be six months, which would cause Nugent-Hopkins to miss the start of training camp in September for the 2013-14 season.
The 20-year-old Nugent-Hopkins has dealt with a shoulder problem since last year, but he had only missed three games this season. During the previous season, he was sidelined for 20 games because of the shoulder.
The Oilers faced the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday night needing a win to stay in playoff contention. They trail eighth-place Columbus by seven points for the final qualifying spot in the Western Conference with five games left.
Nugent-Hopkins, the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, had four goals and 20 assists in 40 games this season.
"We discussed it a little bit during the year," Nugent-Hopkins said. "It's something that doesn't fix itself. It has to be taken care of."
No surgery date is set yet, Nugent-Hopkins said.
"The plan was to get it done before the season ends so I'm recovered and good to go before next season," he said.