Every NHL Team's Most Significant Injury in 2013-14 Season

Rob VollmanContributor IApril 10, 2014

Every NHL Team's Most Significant Injury in 2013-14 Season

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    Elise Amendola

    The wrong injury to the wrong player at the wrong time can derail a season. In some cases, it can be fatal to a team's playoff hopes, such as it was in Nashville with Pekka Rinne. But cases like Steven Stamkos in Tampa Bay prove that a team's fate is never truly sealed.

    Which were this season's most significant injuries? Using data compiled over at Springing Malik, we examined the number of games each player missed while factoring in the importance of that player.

    This latter step can be done using the player's cap hit, using an all-in-one statistic like GVT, or simply using one's judgment. I used a combination of all three.

    Be warned that some situations can get confused by multiple overlapping injuries, or when players continue to compete while injured. These are just to examples of factors that are hard to fully capture and why this is therefore not an exact science.

    In the end I chose each team's most significant injury, calculated its importance and then ranked the teams based on that selection. There are therefore two things about which you can sound off in the comments (and please do). Let's begin!

     

    All advanced statistics are via writer's own original research unless otherwise noted.

     

30. Buffalo Sabres: Michal Neuvirth

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    Karl B DeBlaker

    The Injury

    Trade deadline acquisition Michal Neuvirth was scratched from the lineup with a lower body injury after just two starts for the Buffalo Sabres, during which time he faced 98 shots.

     

    The Impact

    Neuvirth is potentially out of the lineup for the remainder of the season, as is his back-up Jhonas Enroth.

    That places Buffalo's remaining games in the hands of Matt Hackett and Nathan Lieuwen. So far they have a combined .908 save percentage, which isn't bad given the circumstances, but only good enough for a 2-8-1 record.

     

    Other Significant Injuries

    There were arguably no injuries in Buffalo that, if avoided, would have altered the course of their season in any significant way. 

29. Philadelphia Flyers: Vincent Lecavalier

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    Jeff Roberson

    The Injury

    Vincent Lecavalier missed nine games with a non-displaced back fracture in early December.

    Earlier in the season, the recently signed free agent missed three games with a lower body injury sustained in a game against Phoenix, and he also missed a game with a facial injury sustained in a fight with Steve Oleksy.

    Assuming he completes the season, that would add up to 13 games out of the lineup, and potentially far more in games played with reduced effectiveness.

     

    The Impact

    Thirty-three-year-old Vincent Lecavalier started off hot, but ultimately cooled off to the point where he was demoted to the fourth line.

    Lecavalier scored 32 points in 39 games for the Lightning last year, but has just 37 points in 66 games this year for the Flyers, and also the team's worst possession numbers.

    These struggles could have been a result of his injuries, or not being a good fit in Philadelphia. Given his pricey long-term deal, the Flyers are hoping it is the former.

     

    Other Significant Injuries

    Chris Pronger is not officially retired and therefore technically eligible to be considered Philadelphia's most significant injury even though he hasn't played in over two years. Choosing him would have seemed a little cheap.

    Marc-Andre Bourdon, who also missed most of the season with a concussion, would have been an eligible choice, but his absence was arguably not one of high significance.

    In the end, Steve Downie is the only real competitor for Philadelphia's most significant injury, and even then only if you lump his various upper body injuries and concussion together.

     

28. Edmonton Oilers: Sam Gagner

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    Ann Heisenfelt

    The Injury

    Sam Gagner missed the first 13 games of the season courtesy of an errant preseason stick to the face from Vancouver's Zack Kassian.

     

    The Impact

    It's fair to say that things went badly for the Oilers right from the moment that Gagner got injured. That is to say, from day one.

    This will be only the third time in Gagner's seven-season career that he'll finish outside Edmonton's top three in scoring. He leads the team with 100 goals and 292 points over that span.

     

    Other Significant Injuries

    Twenty-eight different Oilers were injured this season, but most of them were either for only a handful of games and/or players of lesser importance than Gagner.

27. Montreal Canadiens: Brandon Prust

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    STEVE NESIUS

    The Injury

    Brandon Prust injured his shoulder crashing hard into the boards in an October game against Nashville, similar to the injury he sustained last March.

    Held out of the lineup again right before the Olympic break, and then again in mid-March, Prust's regular season is officially over. In all he'll have missed 30 games, but he has hopes of returning for the post-season.

     

    The Impact

    More than just a tough guy, Prust has been known to play solid defensive hockey and effectively kill penalties.

    He received Selke consideration in two of the preceding seasons, during which time he also contributed at a near 30-point pace.

    This, however, was not Prust's season. Even when he was in the lineup he proved ineffective, struggling with his shoulder on and off all year.

     

    Other Significant Injuries

    Though Prust was one of a handful of forwards who missed games this season, the Canadiens were hit hardest on the blue line.

    Depth defenseman David Drewiske missed almost the entire season with a shoulder injury, while the Habs also dealt with the loss of Alexei Emelin and Josh Gorges for 19 games and Douglas Murray for 13.

26. St. Louis Blues: Jordan Leopold

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    Tom Gannam/Getty Images

    The Injury

    Jordan Leopold lost 26 games repairing ligament damage in his hand that was sustained in a mid-November game against the Calgary Flames.

    Then in early February, Leopold suffered an ankle injury after an awkward hit from Winnipeg's Zach Bogosian, which cost him 17 games. Leopold made his return April 3.

    These rank as the two longest injuries of the season for St. Louis.

     

    The Impact

    Though a solid two-way second pairing defenseman for most of his career, Leopold is strictly a third pairing option for the Blues, and relatively unused on special teams.

    St. Louis is blessed with one of the league's better top fours in Alex Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester, Barret Jackman and Kevin Shattenkirk. That's a big reason why the Blues are in the hunt for this year's President's trophy.

    Leopold's absence, which could have been far more significant in another situation, proved to be only a minor inconvenience for St. Louis. Ian Cole proved capable of replacing Leopold as Roman Polak's partner on the third pairing.

     

    Other Significant Injuries

    Unlike seasons past, St. Louis has managed to get through the 2013-14 season with very few (if any) fate-changing injuries.

    Vladimir Tarasenko will miss the final 15 games of the season for surgery on his hand and Alex Steen's tremendous season was temporarily derailed for 11 games with a concussion.

25. Florida Panthers: Ed Jovanovski

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    Wilfredo Lee

    The Injury

    Ed Jovanovski has been struggling with a painful hip injury for years. He's been out since last March with hip resurfacing surgery that will hopefully extend his career.

    Not every one of this season's most significant injuries were actually suffered in the 2013-14 season. "Jovo-Cop" played only six games last year, and missed 41 games this season.

     

    The Impact

    The Florida Panthers blue line is something of a mess, beyond the top pairing of Brian Campbell and Tom Gilbert. Having their captain back at full speed would have gone a long way to shoring up a weak and inexperienced blue line both at even strength and while killing penalties.

    In his prime, Jovanovski was one of the league's stronger top-pairing defensemen. The '94 first overall selection received Norris consideration seven times in his career, finishing as high as sixth twice. He last received Norris trophy votes in 2009-10 in Phoenix when he scored 34 points in 66 games while providing hard-nosed shutdown defensive play.

    While he wouldn't be quite that good today, even with a healthy hip, he'd at least be a man who could play 20-plus minutes a night of top-four play, as well as a true difference maker on one of the league's weaker blue lines.

     

    Other Significant Injuries

    The Panthers sent two players to the Olympics, both of whom were injured. Yes, it was that kind of season for this team.

    Tomas Kopecky has missed a total of 26 games so far this year with a concussion and upper body injuries, and rookie sensation Aleksander Barkov has missed 21 games with a knee injury. Both are expected to miss the season's remaining games, too.

     

24. Chicago Blackhawks: Patrick Kane

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    Gary Wiepert

    The Injury

    Incredible offensive talent Patrick Kane injured his leg in a recent game against St. Louis when he got tangled up with Sheldon Brookbank and Brenden Morrow.

    He is expected to miss the rest of the season, a total of 13 games.

     

    The Impact

    The Chicago Blackhawks have already clinched their playoff spot, but initially struggled to score without Kane, who has 69 points in 69 games, second to Patrick Sharp.

    Chicago has gone 6-4 since Kane's injury and has been shut out for the second and third time this season.

     

    Other Significant Injuries

    The Blackhawks are also without their star forward Jonathan Toews for the balance of the season.

    Nikolai Khabibulin has missed almost the entire year with a lower body injury sustained while stopping a Shea Weber slap shot, and Bryan Bickell also missed 20 games this year with lower body injuries.

     

23. Washington Capitals: Brooks Laich

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    The Injury

    Brooks Laich has missed 24 games with a recurring groin injury this season and is not expected back this year.

    His injury initially occurred in Switzerland during last year's lockout and has thus far resisted treatment.

     

    The Impact

    Laich is a key veteran leader and the team's top defensive center, especially when killing penalties.

    His absence from the lineup and his reduced performance when is he is dressed are two of the many reasons why Washington has allowed the seventh most goals in the NHL this season.

    And that's also why a team with one of the game's most exciting goal scorers will miss the post-season for the first time in seven seasons.

     

    Other Significant Injuries

    Second line center Mikhail Grabovski has missed 24 games with ankle injuries (and the flu).

     

22. Dallas Stars: Stephane Robidas

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    Matt Strasen

    The Injury

    Stephane Robidas broke his leg in a game against Chicago in late November when his skate got stuck in a rut.

    He missed the following 37 games before being dealt to Anaheim at the trade deadline, where he missed five more. Robidas has since scored five points in 12 games after requiring 24 games to do the same in Dallas.

     

    The Impact

    Dallas is clinging to the final post-season position in the Western Conference.

    Robidas is one of the league's most underrated defensemen. He took on the team's top opponents in the toughest situations, and did so for years.

    He helped bring along rookie Brenden Dillon on the defensive-minded second pairing, who now had to manage with young Jordie Benn stretching into the role as his partner instead.

    Dallas' blue line was carried by the top pairing of Alex Goligoski and Trevor Daley, who really picked up the slack at both even strength and on the penalty kill.

     

    Other Significant Injuries

    Other than Rich Peverley's unfortunate and emotional heart situation, the Dallas Stars have escaped without any other truly season-changing injuries.

    On the other hand, when a playoff berth is this close it tends to magnify the importance of even brief absences, like Kari Lehtonen's eight games, for example.

     

21. Ottawa Senators: Bobby Ryan

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    Mark Humphrey

    The Injury

    Bobby Ryan suffered a hernia some time in November, a condition with which he continued to play until finally leaving for surgery in late March.

     

    The Impact

    Ryan, who was acquired from Anaheim last offseason in a deal for Jakob Silfverberg, began the season with 19 points in 17 games, but then only 29 points in the next 53 while playing with a hernia.

    While his more limited scoring no doubt cost the team a few games, it didn't affect the team's more pressing issues in the end. The Senators were third-worst in the league in allowing goals, which is hardly Ryan's fault.

    Though his role is almost purely offensive in nature, Ryan plays against the top opponents which he helped the Senators outscore 49 to 38 at even-strength while he was on the ice.

    Part of the credit goes to his linemates Kyle Turris and Clarke MacArthur, who together formed one of the league's more effective top two-way lines.

     

    Other Significant Injuries

    Ottawa may have been hammered by injuries last season, but it endured the 2013-14 season almost completely unscathed.

    Chris Phillips is the only other Senator to miss at least 10 games this season, with four separate injuries adding up to 12 missed games.

     

     

20. Phoenix Coyotes: Zbynek Michalek

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    Winslow Townson

    The Injury

    Phoenix's shutdown defenseman Zbynek Michalek missed a total of 22 games this season with lower body injuries.

    The first injury occurred in a November game against Chicago, potentially from blocking a Marian Hossa shot. Michalek returned after nine games, and on his fourth game back his was injured again against Montreal. This second injury would last 13 games.

     

    The Impact

    The Coyotes are fighting for the final post-season position, and their 6-10-6 record without Michalek may very well prove to have cost them that spot.

    Michalek is the team's elite shutdown defenseman, taking on the top opponents in the toughest defensive situations at both even strength and while killing penalties.

    His partner Oliver Ekman-Larsson stepped up in a big way, but there was really nobody else who could pick up Michalek's assignment.

     

    Other Significant Injuries

    Various shorter-term injuries were sustained by Derek Morris, Shane Doan, Lauri Korpikoski, Martin Hanzal and David Schlemko.

     

     

19. Winnipeg Jets: Zach Bogosian

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    Lance Thomson/Getty Images

    The Injury

    Zach Bogosian missed 15 games with a groin injury sustained in a November contest with the Philadelphia Flyers. He has also since missed five games with the flu and various upper body injuries.

    The Jets, who were on a four-game winning streak at a time, went 5-7-3 in his absence.

     

    The Impact

    Though several Jets suffered more serious injuries this season, the loss of a big-minutes top-four defenseman like Bogosian likely had the most significantly negative impact on the team's fortunes this year.

    Bogosian and his frequent partner Tobias Enstrom generally take on the top opponents in key defensive situations, such as protecting late leads and/or killing penalties.

    The Jets, who are above average scoring-wise, missed the playoffs for the seventh straight season largely because they couldn't keep the puck out of the net. They have allowed the ninth most goals in the league.

     

    Other Significant Injuries

    Winnipeg was without Evander Kane for 18 games this season for various lower body and hand injuries.

    Several Jets suffered injuries of extended duration this season, like Grant Clitsome, Paul Postma, Jim Slater, Chris Thorburn and Matt Halischuk, but no one whose absence had the same impact as Bogosian (or Kane).

     

18. San Jose Sharks: Raffi Torres

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    Tom Mihalek

    The Injury

    Raffi Torres has missed basically the entire season with a knee injury caused by a preseason collision with Emerson Etem.

    He made a brief and valiant attempt to return in early March, but had to leave for further rehabilitation.

     

    The Impact

    Torres' absence did open up a roster spot for Tomas Hertl, who had a white hot start before suffering a season-ending knee injury of his own 35 games into the season.

    It wouldn't be unreasonable to select Hertl's as the season's most significant injury instead, especially if one weighs offensive contributions heavily and feels that a lot of the credit for Hertl's scoring success is his own.

    As for Torres, and despite the flash of offense he displayed in his five-game return—which included three goals and five points—he wasn't added to San Jose's roster so much for secondary scoring, but rather as a rare source of defensively-responsible physicality and grit on an otherwise skill-based team.

    In that respect Tommy Wingels stepped up nicely, as did checking line center Andrew Desjardins.

     

    Other Significant Injuries

    Beyond Torres and Hertl, San Jose lost several other forwards for significant stretches this season.

    Martin Havlat missed 24 games with various lower body injuries and Adam Burish suffered a gruesome season-ending hand injury blocking a shot shortly after missing 57 games with back surgery. Logan Couture also missed 16 games with a hand injury.

17. New York Rangers: Rick Nash

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    Mel Evans

    The Injury

    Rick Nash was knocked out of the lineup for 17 games with a concussion suffered at the hands of San Jose's Brad Stuart on the third game of the season.

    The Rangers are 34-20-5 since his return, and have secured both a playoff spot and potentially a home seed in the first round.

     

    The Impact

    Nash is the team's top goal scorer, his 25 goals leading the team by five despite his prolonged absence. His eight game winning goals are three more than any other Ranger.

    He also leads the team in average quality of competition, and is second to Mats Zuccarello in drawing 12 more penalties than he's taken, which is quite rare for a big man. Another uncommon feat is to score four shorthanded points in under 30 minutes.

    The Rangers' depth up front helped them weather the storm without Nash. The Blueshirts currently have eight forwards with at least 10 goals and 30 points.

     

    Other Significant Injuries

    The next most significant set of injuries were Ryan Callahan's. He missed 17 games with assorted shoulder, thumb and knee injuries before being dealt to the Tampa Bay Lightning to secure Martin St. Louis.

     

16. Calgary Flames: Dennis Wideman

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    Alex Gallardo

    The Injury

    Dennis Wideman, Calgary's second-highest paid player, broke his hand in late November against Chicago, missing 16 games.

    He then suffered a mysterious upper body injury in a game with Ottawa in early March, and will be out for the rest of the season. 

     

    The Impact

    Wideman is a solid two-way second pairing defenseman, used mostly in an offensive-minded fashion by coach Bob Hartley.

    He managed 21 points in 46 games, one point shy of last year's performance. He previously averaged 41.5 points per year in the four preceding seasons, finishing 11th in Norris trophy voting in 2008-09.

    As it stands, the blue line was well served by longshot Norris contender Mark Giordano and his breakout partner T.J. Brodie, but was otherwise quite thin behind them.

    The acquisition of Ladislav Smid provided some depth, but there were very few defensemen capable of playing top-four minutes against top opposing lines for any consistent stretch of time.

     

    Other Significant Injuries

    It's rather amazing how the Calgary Flames have avoided the league's basement with not only the loss of Jarome Iginla, Jay Bouwmeester, Miikka Kiprusoff and Alex Tanguay, but also with injuries to Wideman, Curtis Glencross (44 games), Mark Giordano (18 games), Mike Cammalleri (17 games), David Jones (26 games and counting) and others.

     

15. New Jersey Devils: Ryane Clowe

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    John Minchillo

    The Injury

    Ryane Clowe has endured numerous concussion issues that continue to plague him to this day.

    This latest one, which cost him 32 games this season, stemmed from a Jacob Trouba elbow in an October contest with the Jets.

    Clowe wasn't exactly having a hot start, as the Devils lost all six games while he was held to a single point. The team is 17-12-9 since his return, during which time he has contributed 25 points in 37 games.

     

    The Impact

    The Devils will likely miss the playoffs by the smallest of margins, making injuries like these hurt that much more.

    The gritty 31-year-old winger was signed with the team's third richest contract in order to provide some toughness and secondary scoring, especially with the departure of David Clarkson.

    In his prime he averaged 57 points a season for the Sharks, but is more of a 45-point performer at this stage.

    Unfortunately for the Devils, nobody really stepped up to fill either of those roles this year, leaving the team fourth from last with 186 goals scored.

     

    Other Significant Injuries

    The Devils were hit quite hard with injuries this season. Defensemen Bryce Salvador and Anton Volchenkov missed 34 and 19 games respectively with an assortment of foot, collarbone, leg and lower body injuries.

    Also notable was Patrik Elias, who missed 15 games this season primarily with back issues.

     

14. Boston Bruins: Dennis Seidenberg

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    Michael Dwyer

    The Injury

    Dennis Seidenberg's season ended in late December after a collision with Ottawa's Cory Conacher. He would require surgery to repair his torn ACL and MCL.

     

    The Impact

    Seidenberg's injury exposed one of Boston's few concerns, which is a limitation of top-four options on their blue line.

    As it stands, Zdeno Chara has helped stretch 20-year-old Dougie Hamilton into a top-pairing role while Johnny Boychuk has been paired up most frequently with either Matt Bartkowski or trade deadline acquisition Andrej Meszaros.

    Thanks to their overall blue-line depth, great goaltending from Tuukka Rask and a strong corps of two-way forwards all committed to coach Claude Julien's defensive system, the Bruins remain in the race for the President's trophy even without their highly underrated German defenseman.

     

    Other Significant Injuries

    Boston lost a couple of veteran two-way forwards for significant stretches this season. Loui Eriksson has missed 20 games with a concussion and Chris Kelly missed 22 games with a broken ankle.

    Technically Marc Savard could be considered the team's most significant injury. He hasn't played since a devastating hit from Matt Cooke in March 2010. 

     

13. Vancouver Canucks: Alexandre Burrows

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    Luis M. Alvarez

    The Injury

    Alexandre Burrows broke his foot blocking a shot while killing a penalty against San Jose on the very first game of the season. He would miss 12 games.

    Then he broke his jaw on a Chris Tanev clearing attempt in a game against Carolina in December. That would result in a 20-game absence.

    Burrows also just recently left the lineup briefly with a broken thumb when slashed by Shea Weber as Nick Jensen scored the game-winning goal for Nashville. 

     

    The Impact

    Vancouver is going to miss the post-season for the first time since 2007-08, and likely by just seven points. It will be only their third absence in 13 years.

    With just five points in his first 34 games, it appeared that Burrows was playing through these injuries. His scoring totals were reminiscent of his early years when he scored 21 points in his first 124 games.

    Even when Burrows isn't scoring, he's still a key gritty defensive presence, which is why he has received Selke consideration for six straight seasons.

     

    Other Significant Injuries

    Top line defenseman Alexander Edler missed 16 games with a lower body injury, and the Sedin twins have missed a combined 20 games and counting with rib, leg and hamstring injuries.

     

12. Minnesota Wild: Josh Harding

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    Jim Mone

    The Injury

    Josh Harding was having his much-anticipated breakout season, leading the league with a career high .933 save percentage and a 1.65 goals-against average, when he was forced out of the lineup in early January for symptoms related to his multiple sclerosis.

    Harding recently took part in a practice after Darcy Kuemper suffered an upper body injury in a morning skate.

     

    The Impact

    Veteran Niklas Backstrom is out for the season with abdominal injuries, having also missed games with a knee injury and a concussion earlier in the year.

    In their absence, rookie Darcy Kuemper was initially solid, but has struggled more recently. The Wild picked up Ilya Bryzgalov from the Edmonton Oilers at the trade deadline, who has yet to lose a game in regulation time.

    Minnesota has secured its second consecutive playoff spot, and fifth in franchise history.

     

    Other Significant Injuries

    The Minnesota Wild lost superstar two-way forwards Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise with foot injuries, for 17 and 14 games respectively.

     

11. Colorado Avalanche: Alex Tanguay

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    Alan Diaz

    The Injury

    Acquired in the offseason with Cory Sarich in exchange for David Jones and Shane O'Brien, Alex Tanguay has missed all but 16 games this year with knee and hip injuries stemming from an awkward collision with the boards in a November game against Montreal.

     

    The Impact

    Tanguay started off the season with nine points in 13 games, during which time Colorado was 12-1-0.

    The Avalanche were not the bubble team most analysts expected. They have the depth of scoring to sustain this kind of loss.

    One of Colorado's strengths is how their scoring is spread across several lines. If Jamie McGinn scores two more goals, the team will be blessed with six forwards with 20 goals.

    Colorado is quite likely to finish second in the Central division.

     

    Other Significant Injuries

    The Avalanche were otherwise quite fortunate when it came to injuries, P.A. Parenteau's knee injuries notwithstanding.

     

     

10. Toronto Maple Leafs: Dave Bolland

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    Andrew Nelles

    The Injury

    Dave Bolland missed 56 games when his ankle tendon was sliced after being checked into the boards by Vancouver's Zack Kassian in an early November contest.

    Bolland had six goals and 10 points in 15 games at the time, and has two goals in seven games since his return.

     

    The Impact

    The Leafs will likely miss the playoffs by the narrowest of margins, making the loss of a solid two-way center a critical one.

    Bolland, who won two Stanley Cups with Chicago, received Selke consideration in two of the preceding three seasons. The Leafs were 10-4-0 leading up to his injury, 26-21-8 in his absence and 2-7-0 since his recent return.

     

    Other Significant Injuries

    Tyler Bozak missed 24 games with two separate injuries. Bozak is second to Phil Kessel in points per game and to James van Riemsdyk in average ice-time (among forwards).

     

     

9. Los Angeles Kings: Jonathan Quick

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    Matt Slocum

    The Injury

    Jonathan Quick missed 24 games with a groin injury suffered while making a key overtime save against the Buffalo Sabres in mid-November.

     

    The Impact

    Losing the 2011-12 Conn Smythe winner and Vezina runner-up would make a low-scoring team like the Kings understandably nervous, but Quick's replacements did incredibly well.

    Ben Scrivens achieved a .931 save percentage before being traded to the Edmonton Oilers, and rookie Martin Jones recorded a .932. They had a combined six shutouts, and each posted a goals-against average below 2.00.

    Quick has been great since his return, posting a .923 save percentage while posting five shutouts.

    The Kings have sewn up a playoff spot, making them once again the road team that all the home seeds are trying to avoid facing in the opening round.

     

    Other Significant Injuries

    Overall, the Kings have been lucky this season. Losing third-pairing defenseman Matt Greene for 24 games was the only other injury of any true significance.

     

8. Pittsburgh Penguins: Paul Martin

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    Gene J. Puskar

    The Injury

    The team's No. 1 defenseman Paul Martin is just coming back into the lineup after his second serious injury, a broken hand suffered at the Sochi Olympics.

    The first serious injury was when he broke his leg in an overtime loss to Boston in late November, costing him 23 games.

     

    The Impact

    Martin is just one of three of Pittsburgh's top four defensemen to miss significant action this season due to injury.

    Nineteen-year-old rookie Olli Maatta has really stepped up in their absence, and Matt Niskanen is having a career season with 45 points and a +31.

    The Penguins are consequently doing quite well at both ends of the ice and stand to finish second in the Eastern Conference.

     

    Other Significant Injuries

    The Penguins were arguably the team most affected by injuries, especially on the blue line. Kris Letang is out for the season after a stroke and Rob Scuderi missed 29 games with an ankle injury.

    In nets Pittsburgh has been without veteran backup Tomas Vokoun for the entire season with blood clots and up front the Penguins have been without Pascal Dupuis, Evgeni Malkin and James Neal for at least 15 games apiece.

     

7. New York Islanders: Lubomir Visnovsky

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    Gene J. Puskar

    The Injury

    The Islanders' second-highest paid player Lubomir Visnovsky is out for the rest of the season with a concussion, having played just 24 games this year.

    The initial injury occurred in an October contest with the Carolina Hurricanes after a hit from Radek Dvorak. Visnovsky returned in late January, but was recently forced out of the lineup with lingering symptoms.

     

    The Impact

    The Islanders invested in their forward depth this season, taking the chance that their thin blue line and questionable goaltending would hold out until they too could be addressed.

    Injuries to Visnovsky and goalie Evgeni Nabokov particularly exposed these two weaknesses, knocking the team down near the league's basement.

    There really wasn't anyone to pick up the ball on the blue line, forcing the team to play Andrew MacDonald to an almost ridiculous excess. He was then dealt to the Philadelphia Flyers at the trade deadline.

     

    Other Significant Injuries

    The team's most famous injury was to their franchise player John Tavares, who suffered a season-ending knee injury at the Olympics.

     

6. Anaheim Ducks: Sheldon Souray

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    Chris Carlson

    The Injury

    Sheldon Souray suffered a torn wrist ligament last summer. He would ultimately undergo season-ending wrist surgery in January, without having played a single game in the 2013-14 season.

     

    The Impact

    Anaheim defied the critics with not only a repeat of last year's success, but a further improvement that puts them in close contention for the President's trophy.

    Part of their success was the quick development of rookie Hampus Lindholm, who very smoothly took a position in Anaheim's top-four.

    The Ducks nevertheless acquired veteran Stephane Robidas from the Dallas Stars at the trade deadline for added blue-line depth.

     

    Other Significant Injuries

    Anaheim's blue line was further affected by the loss of Luca Sbisa for 43 games to assorted ankle, hand and lower body injuries. 

    In nets, Viktor Fasth missed a combined 52 games with lower body injuries before being dealt to the Edmonton Oilers at the trade deadline.

     

     

5. Carolina Hurricanes: Joni Pitkanen

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    Tom Mihalek

    The Injury

    In a great argument in favor of no-touch icing, Joni Pitkanen broke his left heel in an icing race in an April 2013 game against the Washington Capitals.

    Pitkanen consequently missed the entire 2013-14 season.

     

    The Impact

    The Hurricanes made a series of moves that resulted in potentially their strongest blue line ever.

    They picked up Andrej Sekera from the Buffalo Sabres, who had a monster season along Justin Faulk. They added top-four defenseman Ron Hainsey (and depth option Mike Komisarek) through free agency, promoted 20-year-old Ryan Murphy up to the NHL and later dealt Tim Gleason to the Toronto Maple Leafs for John-Michael Liles.

    Quite a few things went wrong in Carolina this year, but the impact of Pitkanen's absence was successfully minimized. 

     

    Other Significant Injuries

    The Hurricanes were hit hard in nets, losing Cam Ward for 23 games and Anton Khudobin for 32 games with lower body injuries.

    Alexander Semin missed a dozen games with a concussion, and Tim Gleason missed 22 games with three separate injuries before being dealt to the Toronto Maple Leafs for John-Michael Liles.

     

4. Columbus Blue Jackets: Marian Gaborik

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    Paul Vernon

    The Injury

    Columbus' leading scorer Marian Gaborik sprained his knee in a November game against Boston, missing 17 games.

    He then injured his collarbone on his first game back, on just his fourth shift in a game against Philadelphia. He would miss 22 more games.

    This may have been two separate injuries, but it feels like one.

     

    The Impact

    Ryan Johansen became the team's breakout star, leading Columbus with 30 goals and 55 points. Cam Atkinson and Artem Anisimov gave the team two other 20-goal scorers.

    Despite the absence of their only big-name player for the majority of the season, there's an excellent chance the Blue Jackets will qualify for the post-season for only the second time in franchise history.

    Gaborik, a pending UFA, was traded to Los Angeles at the trade deadline.

     

    Other Significant Injuries

    Big offseason signing Nathan Horton missed the first 40 games of the season recovering from shoulder surgery.

     

     

3. Detroit Red Wings: Pavel Datsyuk

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    Duane Burleson

    The Injury

    Two-way superstar Pavel Datsyuk missed a total of 36 games this season with injuries to his head, lower body and knee.

    First he suffered a concussion in November courtesy of Jared Cowen's elbow. Then he suffered a lower body injury in January, followed by a knee injury on Feb. 27 that affects him to this day.

    This may not be a single issue, but it isn't easy keeping all of Detroit's injuries straight this year.

     

    The Impact

    Amazingly, Detroit is going to be in the playoffs this year. With a healthy lineup they very well could have competed for the conference title.

    Offensively, most of Datsyuk's slack has been picked up by Gustav Nyquist, the hottest sniper in the league right now. He leads the team with 28 goals in 55 games.

    There really isn't anyone capable of filling his skates defensively, although David Legwand was acquired from the Nashville Predators at the trade deadline to try.

     

    Other Significant Injuries

    The Detroit Red Wings were absolutely hammered by injuries this season.

    Stephen Weiss missed 49 games with a groin injury, Henrik Zetterberg was out 30 games with recurring back troubles, Johan Franzen was out a combined 27 games with concussion issues, Jonathan Ericsson missed 27 games with injuries to his ribs and finger and Darren Helm missed 40 games with injuries to his back, shoulder, groin and head.  

    And that's just to name a few. Twenty-three Red Wings missed games to injury this season, and only six of whom were for fewer than 10 games.

2. Tampa Bay Lighthing: Steven Stamkos

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    Chris O'Meara

    The Injury

    Steven Stamkos broke his right tibia in a collision with the net in a game against Boston last November.

    The game's greatest goal scorer (arguably) missed 45 games, and he has nine goals and 13 points in 15 games since his return.

     

    The Impact

    The team actually fared quite well in his absence, thanks to excellent coaching by Jon Cooper of a team half-composed of rookies. The fast development of Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson were especially valuable in replacing the lost scoring.

    Ultimately the Lightning went 22-18-5 in Stamkos' absence, which, while unspectacular, kept their playoff hopes alive.

     

    Other Significant Injuries

    Mattias Ohlund and Brian Lee both missed the entire season with knee surgeries, but the former hasn't played in the NHL since 2010-11 (and hasn't scored since 2008-09), and the latter is a replacement-level depth option.

     

1. Nashville Predators: Pekka Rinne

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    Tony Gutierrez

    The Injury

    Nashville's franchise goalie Pekka Rinne, the highest paid player at his position, missed 51 games this year with an infection in his surgically repaired hip.

    Still not quite at 100 percent, Rinne posted a poor .884 save percentage in 11 games this March, allowing four or more goals in five of the last six starts.

     

    The Impact

    Nashville doesn't really have a backup and felt the full weight of this blow, the most devastating injury of the season.

    This is just the latest example why many teams sign reliable but high-priced backups just in case of season-ending injuries like these.

    Rookies Carter Hutton and Marek Mazanec posted a .905 save percentage in Rinne's absence.

     

    Other Significant Injuries

    A handful of Predators got stung by various injuries throughout the season, but nothing that rivals either this injury, or any other on this list.

     

    Rob Vollman is author of Rob Vollman's Hockey Abstract, co-author of the annual Hockey Prospectus guides and a featured ESPN Insider writer. @robvollmanNHL.