On Monday night, Anaheim center Ryan Getzlaf went down with an ankle injury. He was sent for a MRI on Monday night, which came back negative, but his status is still up in the air for the Olympics; Team Canada could make a decision to replace him as early as Tuesday afternoon. This injury could have a number of impacts on the Blackhawks’ roster.
First, the most obvious is that the Ducks will be without one of the their better players for at least the next three games before the Olympics. There is no sense in Anaheim rushing their best player back from an injury for two games against the Oilers and one at the Flames this week. Getzlaf, 24, is the Ducks leading scorer with 57 points (15 G, 42 A) in 55 games this season.
The direct impact of Getzlaf’s absense for the next week isn’t obvious. But the trickle down potential should be.
Anaheim snapped the Kings’ 10-game winning streak on Monday night, and has won four of their last five games. However, their dismal 10-16-5 record on the road and lack of scoring outside of Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan and Corey Perry has them tied with Dallas for tenth place in the Western Conference, three points behind Nashville with Detroit between them.
If the Ducks drop a couple games between now and the Olympics, the mindset in southern California might quickly turn to the future. If that happens, the likelihood of the Ducks moving expiring contracts like James Wisniewski and Scott Niedermayer becomes significantly better. Obviously, the Blackhawks have interest in adding depth on the blue line (and getting rid of Cam Barker), and both of these players would be near the top of the list of potential trade partners for the Blackhawks. With other names the Blackhawks have been linked to starting to suffer injuries (Atlanta’s Boris Valabik reportedly has a torn ACL and is done for the year), the focus on the Ducks could become more intense in the near future.
The second trickle down impact on the Blackhawks will come if Getzlaf is either A) replaced on the Canadian Olympic team or B) stays on the roster but isn’t 100 percent. As the roster stacked up for Canada, it looked like the top line would be centered by Sidney Crosby, Joe Thornton would be in the middle on the second line, and probably Getzlaf would center the third. If Getzlaf is replaced/not healthy, the role of Jonathan Toews could increase dramatically. There was a pretty good chance that Toews would see more opportunities in the circle than Getzlaf based on their faceoff win percentages this year (Toews – 57.3, Getzlaf – 48.2). Getzlaf is more experienced, though, and would have likely seen more ice time.
As the news of the decisions, from Getzlaf, the Ducks and Canada Hockey, are made, we’ll see how it impacts the Blackhawks moving forward.