Even though it is still early, the injuries seem to be piling up quickly. In general, teams seem to be taking a conservative approach so nothing ends up being an issue later in the season.
Atlanta’s Zach Bogosian has an injured shoulder and has not played in a week. There does not seem to be anything indicating a tear or fracture, so it may just be a severe sprain or contusion. Bogosian does not have a timetable to return, but the way his shoulder responds over the upcoming week should provide a glimpse at the severity of the injury and a hint as to when he will return to the ice.
Teammate Nikolai Antropov is still recovering from offseason hip surgery and is not ready to play. This is not abnormal, because once the operation is done, the patient can sometimes have some anterior hip tightness and weakness in the stabilizing muscles of the hip. As the rehab progresses, the anterior hip structures eventually regain their normal muscle length and the stabilizers get stronger. Hockey players need strong hip muscles to play on ice, so their recovery can sometimes take a bit longer than players in other sports.
Chicago’s Brian Campbell suffered a knee sprain early this month and finally got his first chance to lace up the skates Saturday. Campbell will increase the intensity of his workout before rejoining the rest of the team for full practices. Barring any setbacks, he is on track to return in early November.
Vancouver’s Dan Hamhuis remains out after suffering a bruised foot a little over a week ago while blocking a shot. Reports said his X-ray and CT scans were negative for structural damage, but apparently he is still having pain, especially when trying to push off the foot. Normally the tests will reveal any fractures or bone bruises, so he likely suffered a contusion. However, if Hamhuis does not return in a week or so, it may lead me to believe he actually suffered a fracture that was not apparent with standard images. This is one of those “time will tell” instances.
Boston’s Johnny Boychuk sustained a “slight” fracture of his left forearm and is slated to miss four weeks. Slight or not, any fracture warrants rest to allow the bone to heal. Boychuk will be able to skate and maintain his conditioning since the injury is to his arm, so expect him to return to action right away once the bone in his arm has healed.
Roman Polak of the St. Louis Blues sustained a right wrist laceration in Saturday’s game. I have not found anything indicating tendon damage – which likely would have led to surgery – so it is probably only a superficial wound. Still, the team will have to determine how severe the cut is to prevent re-injury and establish a timetable for his return.
Another player with an upper body injury is Ethan Moreau of Columbus. He is out 4-to-6 weeks after having a bone in his hand reset. Hand injuries can be frustrating because they at times seem too minor to keep a player out, but keep in mind how important the hand is to athletes in all sports (soccer goalies included).
Adam Foote of Colorado has been diagnosed with a concussion and will be monitored to determine when he will be able to return. Recovery timelines after suffering a concussion fluctuate, so it is difficult to get a firm handle on how much time Foote will miss. Foote will not do anything until cleared to exercise, and he will not be back on the ice until further assessments are done.
Vancouver’s Keith Ballard is dealing with a concussion as well, and he has yet to be cleared to resume physical activity. Ballard will need to exhibit normal behavior without experiencing any symptoms because exercise can induce undue stress on the body and may cause further complications. Concussions have become a hot topic in sports lately, so players with head injuries will be monitored carefully going forward.
Michael Leighton of Philadelphia underwent back surgery earlier this month, but he has resumed walking, which is the first step towards recovery (pardon the pun). It’s encouraging to see him partake in physical activities, but he still needs to regain the strength in his back. As Leighton regains his leg mobility and starts to work on his strengthening program, we should see the speed of his recovery pick up. As he gets stronger, he will be cleared to increase his cardio workouts and eventually resume skating. Leighton still has a lot of work to do before he returns, but as long there are no signs of pain, there is no cause for alarm.
The Red Wings' Jonathon Ericsson originally had issues with back spasms, but he has been diagnosed with a bulging disk in his back instead. Ericsson has remained active and has skated two times in the last three days, but this does not necessarily mean he is out of the woods. He still has to prove he can handle contact and sudden motions. It does not sound like Ericsson is taking part in practice, so he is most likely still in the rehab/strengthening phase of his recovery while he waits for the bulging disk to diminish. As long as he remains active and the disk goes returns to its normal size, he should be able to avoid surgery and return in the near future.
Ottawa’s Jason Spezza has a minor groin injury, but Tuesday’s game was the third he has missed. Let’s start by saying that groin injuries are serious business for hockey players. The motion of skating necessitates the groin region to be flexible and strong to counterbalance the pushing action against the ice. A weak or tight groin region usually translates into injury and can seriously affect performance, so no matter how minor the groin injury, Ottawa is smart to hold him out until he has fully recovered.
Fellow Senator Pascal Leclaire is also recovering from a groin injury. He has resumed skating and could return to practice within the next week or so. Leclaire played very well early this season, so fantasy owners are anxiously awaiting his return.
Both Cam Barker of the Wild and Scott Parse of the Kings are also dealing with groin injuries, so they will proceed with caution as well so as to not aggravate their previous injury.
Kris Draper of the Red Wings will undergo surgery to repair a sports hernia, which is essentially a tear of the abdominal wall. The recovery from sports hernia surgery focuses on re-strengthening and re-training the abdominal muscle. Draper is expected to miss 4-to-6 weeks, but he is likely looking at the longer end of that prognosis and could even miss more time if the rehab does not go as planned.
Lastly, there are questions as to the health of Washington’s Semyon Varlamov, who was just activated from injured reserve a week ago. Varlamov is now day-to-day with an undisclosed injury, so hopefully he did not aggravate his groin injury by returning too soon. Varlamov’s status should be determined within a few days.