This article from the Pittsburgh Penguins website announces that defenseman Ryan Whitney underwent successful surgery on Saturday morning to correct a chronic condition in his left foot.
Whitney commented that he has been bothered by the foot since the Penguins' first round playoff series against the Senators at the end of last season. The typical recovery time is three to five months, which means that Whitney will likely miss the Penguins' first 15 to 20 games in the upcoming season.
If you are familiar with me, you know that I am by no means a fan of Whitney, so this news comes as a bit of a relief. I have always felt that Whitney is the weakest among the Penguins' current seven or eight top defensemen in the system.
What Whitney "brings to the table offensively" (by the way, his points total dropped off by 19 points this past season), he more than defeats with his "two-hand-touch" style of defense.
He's weak in front of the net, he makes stupid passes out of his own zone, and his $6.5 million contract could surely land the Penguins a lot more talent if they traded him.
However, that won't happen. Realistically, Whitney is supposed to be Gonchar's successor in the offensive defenseman department. Whether or not that will ever be a real possibility remains to be seen, but early indications are pointing more toward the nays than the yays.
Whitney going down with an injury really doesn't affect the Penguins' lineup. They still have not parted ways with veteran defenseman Darryl Sydor, who served as a fill-in last season when one of the top six was injured.
In my opinion, Kris Letang will eventually blossom into a much better offensive defenseman than Whitney, and he is 1,000 times better in the defensive zone.
Alex Goligoski, a member of the Penguins' AHL affiliate for much of last season, did see some time in the NHL last season. He is the top offensive defenseman prospect in the Pens' minor league system.
Whitney's injury should have Goligoski garnering a lot more attention in training camp.
Mark Eaton will also be healthy for the start of the '08-'09 season. Eaton figured to be one of the top four defensemen on the Pens' roster, and with good reason.
You never like to see a player, any player, get hurt. But this is one injury that I can comfortably shake off, knowing that the Penguins won't miss a beat.