It’s a macabre September tradition to anticipate injuries that make opening night roster decisions easier to forecast.
On Tuesday, 2017’s version of that exercise got off to an earlier than expected start.
It’s not an injury to one of the rookies in pre-training camp — which began only Friday — but rather a returning roster player whose not yet officially in camp: Alan Quine is expected to be out four to six weeks, casting some intrigue on a forward roster spot that was already in bubble territory.
Quine appeared in 61 games last season, but we pegged him for the roster bubble because if rookies Josh Ho-Sang and Mathew Barzal and sophomore Anthony Beauvillier each make convincing cases to start the season in the NHL, it would be at the expense of an early-career veteran like Quine and/or Shane Prince.
Oh, speaking of whom: You may have forgotten or missed this summer news, but Prince himself is out an estimated four to six months after ankle surgery.
Take both Prince and Quine out of consideration for the opening night roster, and suddenly the youth that many (but certainly not all) fans are clamoring for are positioned front and center. (This is assuming Quine’s injury keeps him out for all of camp...and of course this is before any other untimely injuries.)
Not only that, but it’s now much easier to keep all eight defenseman on non-waiver exempt NHL contracts on the roster to start with.
That’s not exactly the ideal setup, but it is a way to punt the waiver/roster decisions down the road, in the fine tradition of Radek Martinek/Eric Boulton preseason injuries we know so well.