The injury bug is something that teams try to avoid year in and year out. Some years, it just can’t be outworked. There have been seasons where teams have been so riddled with hurt players that they barely got an opportunity to win any games. The bug is a pain in the behind and can truly damper the expectations of any pro organization.
Last year, the New York Rangers fared pretty well in the injury department. Forward and captain Ryan Callahan went down with a hand injury for a few games but it wasn’t anything too serious. The major problem last year was the horrific eye injury to star defenseman Marc Staal, one of the four brothers all currently playing in the league. The incident happened during a game against the Philadelphia Flyers on March 5. The puck got deflected right up into his eye and he suffered a small tear. The injury kept him sidelined for the remainder of the season and playoffs with the exclusion of one game in which he made an appearance in the series against the Washington Capitals. After he got some tests done, he said that his vision will never be 100 percent again, but he would make an attempt to play at the highest level, and he has. He has 2 goals this preseason and is sporting a new tinted visor in the process.
This summer, information was leaked that forwards Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin were both playing with separated shoulders during the playoffs. and they both required the same surgery this offseason. The guys are recovering well and are on track, but they are not expected to be in the line-up for next Thursday’s season opener in Phoenix. However, with centerman Derek Stepan signing a two-year contract extension today, that puts a positive spin on things for Alain Vigneault‘s team.
But how do the injuries to Callahan and Hagelin affect the Rangers? It definitely puts a damper on things, that’s for sure. They are both vital parts to the offense and will certainly be missed when the team needs that extra jump or spark on some nights. If forwards Chris Kreider and JT Miller prove themselves worthy to the coaching staff, they could perhaps take the spot of both Callahan and Hagelin. Although, the two young forwards will most likely not be able to produce like they can but hey, anything can happen.
In the shortened season, the captain notched 16 goals and 15 assists, totaling up to 31 points in 46 games played. He has shown that he has some flair on his offensive game, and when he needs to fight or deliver a big hit, he has the ability to do that as well.
As for Carl Hagelin, he only put up 10 goals and 14 assists, adding up to 24 points in all 48 games played. He certainly has the ability to add more to the goal category, especially if he is paired up with Rick Nash and Brad Richards once he returns from the IR. But what Hagelin brings is speed, and lots of it. He is the type of forward that can create a scoring chance just with his feet. After all, he did win the Fastest Skater competition at the All-Star Game a few years back.
So, if you take a look at stats and most importantly intangibles, missing Callahan and Hagelin is going to be a big problem, and can be very detrimental for the team, but as always they will find a way to push through it and persevere.