Penguins' defenseman Sergei Gonchar's shoulder injury, which was initially diagnosed as having a six to eight week recovery time, has taken a turn for the worse.
The Penguins originally thought that surgery would not be necessary to repair a separated shoulder that Gonchar sustained due to a pre-season check from Tampa Bay's David Koci. The original diagnosis has now turned from bad to worse, as TSN reports that Gonchar will indeed undergo surgery, and will likely miss four to six months of the upcoming season.
The Penguins' power play will undoubtedly be affected most by Gonchar's absence. He has led the team in power play points in each of the past two seasons, including finishing second in the NHL to eventual Norris Trophy Winner Nicklas Lidstrom in power play points last season.
The Penguins do boast a very deep corpse of defensemen, with five players who have proven themselves to be top-six material. Brooks Orpik, Kris Letang, Hal Gill, Rob Scuderi, Mark Eaton, and Darryl Sydor will likely be the Penguins' new top six, with rookie Alex Goligoski having a chance to prove himself worthy of a roster spot early in the season.
The Penguins shouldn't suffer much defensively, but in losing Whitney, who is expected to be out of action until late December or early January, and now Gonchar to long-term injuries, we could see a lot less offensive production coming from the Penguins' blue line.