One third of the Anaheim Ducks’ talented defensive corps played through significant shoulder damage in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
In his debriefing on Thursday after the Ducks were ousted by the Nashville Predators in consecutive postseason runs earlier this week, general manager Bob Murray announced that both Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen require major shoulder surgeries to repair torn labrums.
Lindholm will need four-to-five months to complete the rehabilitation process, while Vatanen is expected to be sidelined “longer.”
Though unsurprising given the nature of an extended postseason run, this post-playoff injury news dump is particularly intriguing.
With more talented defensemen than available slots on their protected list, the Ducks are expected to be one of the busier teams ahead of the upcoming expansion draft. In order to preserve Lindholm, Vatanen, Cam Fowler, and Josh Manson, Murray will not only have to convince Kevin Bieksa to wave his no-trade clause, but also be willing to expose Rickard Rakell or Jakob Silfverberg to the Vegas Golden Knights.
In all likelihood, it won’t get to that point, and the Ducks will most certainly move a valuable asset before losing one to Vegas for nothing. But for all involved, the uncertain statuses of Lindholm and Vatanen could potentially complicate matters.
Though Lindholm’s production hit a career low this season, he remains one of the league’s premier possession defensemen. His 5.91 percent relative Corsi For ranked second behind the Calgary Flames’ Dougie Hamilton among blue liners with at least 1,000 minutes at even strength, according to Corsica.hockey.
Vatanen, too, took a step back offensively, and wasn’t nearly as efficient in his minutes, but is still considered a high-end asset.
The minimum four-to-five month timeline on both defensemen puts their status for the start of next season in question.
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