Big problems in Pittsburgh, where star center Evgeni Malkin is done for the season thanks to a torn MCL and ACL in his right knee. Malkin sought a second opinion on his knee to see if he could avoid surgery, but doctors ultimately decided that the damage was too severe. Malkin underwent surgery Thursday and will be out for about six months. Though this season is over for Malkin, the good news is he should be ready for training camp in September if all goes well. Those in keeper leagues will want to hang on to Malkin, but those in re-draft leagues can safely cut bait.
Minnesota’s Guillaume Latendresse seems to be recovering well from November surgery to repair a labral tear in his hip and a sports hernia. He recently resumed skating on his own and has increased the intensity of his off-ice workouts. The next step will be increasing the intensity of his workouts on the ice itself and getting back into playing shape. The Wild had originally hoped Latendresse would be able to return at some point this season, but they are now hoping to have him back by March 1.
Detroit’s Mike Modano also seems to be doing very well with his recovery after undergoing surgery in November to repair severed tendons in his wrist. However, since he has been off ice for so long, he is finding out that he really needs to work on his conditioning to get up to speed with the rest of the team. Modano was originally expected to return in mid-March, but it now sounds like he may be able to return a bit sooner.
Next, we have Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro. Not only did he get taken down in near-record time in a goalie fight, but also suffered facial fractures and a swollen knee in the process. DiPietro was placed on injured reserve and is expected to be out 4-to-6 weeks. The guy just seems to have the worst luck – and the worst ability to take a punch.
San Jose’s Antero Niittymaki is recovering from a groin injury, but he aggravated the injury during practice this week and remains out of action. He may need to take an extended break from practice to let the groin fully recover before he plays again. Fellow goaltender Antti Niemi has played exceptionally well in Niitymaki’s place, so head coach Todd McLellan will have to figure out how to split the playing time when Niitymaki returns.
The Islanders’ Mark Streit had shoulder surgery in October and is making good progress. He has been shooting since January but has not taken any slap shots. The question is, why? Is he experiencing some pain when he makes impact with the ice? Does he still need to regain enough motion in the shoulder to wind up and follow through normally? I would imagine that he should be able to take a slap shot soon, unless he is still struggling with a specific aspect of the recovery. Streit will workout for another couple weeks before being reevaluated, but hopefully he’s able to return to the ice at some point this season.
I mentioned Nashville’s Marek Svatos in a previous column. He underwent arthroscopic surgery on his knee in late January and was expected to be out about two weeks. As mentioned before, two weeks was ambitious and 3-to-4 weeks may be more realistic. He may be experiencing some pain and swelling, which is normal. Svatos hoped to resume skating this week, so there is a chance he could be back in action before the end of the month.
Buffalo’s Patrick Kaleta suffered a fractured hand in December. It had healed well enough to allow him to resume playing with a cast; but in late January, he aggravated the injury when his hand was hit by a puck. The medical staff initially did not think it was anything serious, but since being struck, Svatos has had increased pain and has not been able to get back on the ice. The problem is the hand has many small bones and ligaments, so injuries can be hard to detect. This could be something like a bruise, or it could a small fracture in an obscure location. Kaleta had his cast removed last weekend, but he has yet to resume playing. Hopefully he will be able to do so in the next few days.
Lastly, the Rangers’ Chris Drury will undergo surgery to help clean up his ailing knee. Drury’s knee has been a problem for several weeks, but the Rangers just recently decided that an operation was necessary. Drury, who missed significant time earlier with a broken finger, will be out about six weeks while recovering form the procedure. Don’t expect him to help your fantasy team much, if at all, over the remainder of this season.