Unfortunately, injuries are a very large part of each NHL season. It is inevitable for players to go down while flying around a sheet of ice surrounded by solid boards, all while standing on a 2.8 millimetre thick piece of steel.
Of course, among those many injuries, some will find the superstars of the league. Injuries that could present a serious impact on attendance and television viewership.
Through the first quarter of the 2015-16 NHL season, there have been a few all-stars that have been bit by the injury bug.
So far, there have been a total of 1,409 man games lost to injury over all 30 teams. The leader in that category is the Detroit Red Wings, losing 86 man games. On the other hand, the New York Rangers have lost just six man games to injury through 19 games.
Here are the five most devastating injuries through the first quarter of 2015-16.
1: Connor McDavid – Edmonton Oilers
Connor McDavid was the most anticipated player to come into the NHL since Sidney Crosby in 2005. Labeled as a true generational talent, McDavid will be looked upon to bring glory back to the Oilers franchise for the first time in a decade. Through 12 games, McDavid was coming into his own, with five goals and 12 points, good for a share of the lead in points by rookies.
However, in the 13th game, the nightmare of a McDavid injury came to life. After crashing into the end boards, he fractured his clavicle and was immediately placed on the injured reserve. McDavid isn’t expected to return until the new year. The Oilers were 5-8-0 when McDavid got hurt, and have gone 2-5-1 since. Luckily for the Oilers, Leon Draisaitl has been spectacular since being called up in McDavid’s absence, scoring seven goals and 17 points in 11 games.
2: Zach Parise – Minnesota Wild
Zach Parise has been expected to be the Wild’s best forward for the past four seasons since signing a massive 13-year, $98 million contract. He was doing just that through Minnesota’s first 11 games of the season, scoring seven goals and nine points over that stretch, as the Wild sat at 7-2-2. Parise looked to be on the verge of finally returning to the form that saw him score 45 goals as a 25-year-old.
With the Predators visiting on Nov. 5th, Parise would take a dangerous hit from behind from James Neal. Parise sprained his MCL on the play, and has yet to return since. The Wild have gone 4-3-1 since his departure. It is unlikely that Parise will return until after their current homestead, which ends on Nov. 28th. With Parise on the mend, Thomas Vanek has taken over the scoring lead with eight goals.
3: Logan Couture – San Jose Sharks
The San Jose Sharks ninth overall pick from the 2007 NHL Draft was coming off of his best season in 2014-15, which saw him hit a career-high in points with 67. That mark was second only to Pavelski on the team, as it appeared that Couture had finally reached his potential. However, he fractured his right fibula in practice on Oct. 15th, only three games into the campaign.
Couture wore a protective boot after the injury, and has skated just once since the incident. There is still no timetable for his return. Once again, Joe Pavelski has been leading the Sharks offence in Couture’s absence, with 12 goals and 20 points. The Sharks were 3-0-0 with Couture in the lineup, but went 4-8-0 in the following 12 games, before going on a six-game winning streak.
4: Ondrej Pavelec – Winnipeg Jets
Pavelec had maintained the starter’s role through a season which saw Michael Hutchinson come in and steal the show in 2014-15. The two goaltenders were relatively splitting time this season, with Hutchinson’s .913 save percentage just slightly bettering Pavelec’s .906. Unfortunately for Pavelec, he will no longer see any NHL action until January at the earliest.
On Nov. 21st, with the Arizona Coyotes coming back to their old home of Winnipeg, a terrible collision occurred between former Jet, Shane Doan, and Pavelec. He was diagnosed with a sprained knee, and won’t be back until 2016. That means Michael Hutchinson will get the reigns for the Jets for the foreseeable future. The first result without Pavelec was a 4-1 loss at the hands of the Avalanche.
5: Olli Maatta – Pittsburgh Penguins
Olli Maatta has already faced a career’s worth of injuries over just the past two seasons. Last year alone, Maatta faced the mumps, a shoulder injury that ended his year, and a cancerous tumour on his thyroid. This year, he lasted 18 games before falling to an injury, yet again. Maatta was playing 16:25 a night, with two goals and four points in his 18 matches.
The injury occurred on Nov. 17th, against the Minnesota Wild. While skating along the side boards, Maatta was shoved down from behind. As he fell parallel to the boards, the Wild bench door opened and Maatta’s shoulder hit directly into the door frame of the bench. He is expected to miss only three to four weeks, a huge relief for he and the Penguins after what looked like a much more serious injury.