You know it’s a bad injury if the hockey people actually tell you what it is
Ryan Getzlaf had a broken cheekbone. Cam Fowler had a knee problem. Ryan Kesler had a torn labrum in his hip.
Normally they say “upper body injury,” as in the case of Rickard Rakell. That can run the gamut between dandruff and coronary thrombosis, It often means a concussion. But the secrecy at least means the player will return soon, so it’s best not to give the marauding opponents a target.
The Ducks have not suffered trivial injuries this season. It’s been month-to-month, not day-to-day.
At that point they were missing Getzlaf, Fowler, Kesler and Patrick Eaves, who suffered Guillain-Barre Syndrome. That’s 80 percent of a power-play unit.
Derek Grant is a center who had not scored an NHL goal in 80 games until this season, when he came to Anaheim. Now he has five. He has played surprisingly well for the Ducks. Nevertheless, they never expected Grant would be on their first line, as he was Wednesday at St. Louis, a game the Ducks won.
Getzlaf was hit in the face with a puck. Rakell got hurt running into Kevin Bieksa, who is his teammate.
General Manager Bob Murray said Getzlaf and Kesler could return sometime during the Ducks’ next trip, which encompasses Dec. 14-23. Eight of their next 11 games are on the road. They are one point out of the playoff mix at the moment even though they lead the NHL in shots-on-goal allowed, at 36 per game.
So on Thursday they dealt defenseman Sami Vatanen to New Jersey in exchange for centers Adam Henrique and Joseph Blandisi.
Sometimes you get pushed into your own trade deadline.
Murray said the trade wasn’t caused by the injuries, that the Ducks had eyed the two Devils for a while but had to wait until Vatanen and Hampus Lindholm could prove they weren’t hurt anymore. They did that, but then Brandon Montour proved he could play better than Vatanen.
“We had a surplus of defensemen, they had a surplus of centers,” Murray said.
Henrique, 27 and a junior teammate of Fowler’s at Windsor, is reasonably priced at $5 million this year and $5.5 million next year. He was made available because of center Nico Hischier, last year’s top draft pick. But Henrique can give the Ducks the down-the-middle dominance that sometimes carries a team into June.
The Ducks can choose their lines, not invent them. They can use Getzlaf, Kesler, Henrique and faceoff whiz Antoine Vermette as their centers and move Rakell back to the wing. When…