Less than two weeks ago, this picture was possible. Today... not so much.
For the third time in the last five games, an Edmonton Oiler has fallen victim to the Dustin Penner curse. First it was Ales Hemsky who was put on the shelf long-term with a bum shoulder after a rather innocuous-looking hit. Next up was Taylor Hall who thought that, with Penner gone, someone ought to fill the "enforcer who plays more than three shifts" role that the big man left behind. Congrats to him for being game, but the result was a high ankle sprain that put him out for the season and ended any hope he had of winning the Calder Trophy. And now today we learn that Sam Gagner had a tendon in his hand severed by Ryan Jones' skate as Jones hopped off the bench and Gagner reached for his water bottle. Gagner had surgery earlier today and will be out for the rest of the season. Some scattered thoughts on the injury after the jump.
What does this mean for Gagner? On the one hand (the unsevered one), it's obvious that this injury has nothing to do with any of Gagner's previous ailments. On the other hand (call it the severed one), with Gagner out for the rest of the year, he's now developing a small history of injuries. That this is a hand injury doesn't help matters. To be perfectly honest, I have no idea whether or not this injury should be expected to hamper his game in any way over the long term, but again, being honest, "severed tendon in hand" does make me a little bit nervous. That said, I sure do hope he ends up being fine.
What does it mean for the organization? Well, more losses for one thing, and that could mean both here and in Oklahoma City since the Barons are now likely going to lose yet another body in their push for the playoffs. The most likely call-ups at this point would seem to be Ryan O`Marra, Brad Moran, and Teemu Hartikainen, but I also wouldn't be surprised to see Zack Stortini get the call for three different reasons. The first reason is loyalty to a player who's been a solid part of this organization for the last several years. When he has sent down, he could have become bitter, but instead, he was the guy staying late for pictures with fans to spread goodwill. The Oilers don't "owe" Stortini a place in the NHL, but if ever there was a time to reward character, it's when you've got a team piling up losses on its way to a 30th place finish. The second reason is simply that Stortini just isn't that central to the Barons. The three leading candidates are all essential cogs in the Barons' top nine forwards and have been all year. Grabbing Stortini is likely the best (halfway reasonable) move the Oilers can make for them.