You can't spell opportunity without the letters I and R. With the NHL regular season opening this morning in London, certain teams have to had to make some last-minute adjustments to deal with some critical last-minute injuries. Here are the kids tapped to fill those spots.
Injuries: Colin White, Indefinitely (Eye)
Replacements: Matthew Corrente
Another Devils draftee from the bottom of the first round will also be making his NHL debut. 30th overall in 2006, physical rearguard Matthew Corrente has seen a roster spot appear out of nowhere thanks a freak accident in practice that has sidelined dependable vet Colin White. Initially projected to be a defenseman in the same mold as White- AKA zero fantasy value- Corrente himself was a victim of injury, sidelined for all but 43 games last season. However, when he did return, it was with a bang. After a trade to the Mississauga IceDogs, the 19 year-old posted 11 points and 27 PIM in 14 games. Corrente could be a very valuable player in the way Sean Avery is- 170+ PIM and 30+ points, most of them on the powerplay.
Injuries: Ethan Moreau, 1-2 Weeks (Ankle) and Fernando Pisani, Indefinitely (Colitis)
Replacements: Andrew Cogliano and Kyle Brodziak
The good luck just keeps coming for the Edmonton Oilers. 2005-06 saw the team lose starting goaltender and Conn Smythe candidate Dwayne Roloson in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, have star defender Chris Pronger shipped out of town on fuzzy trade demands, and the roster depleted by free agency. Last season, the Oil were first in the Northwest Division in December when Ethan Moreau dislocated a shoulder trying to fight Danny Markov. The injuries piled up, Ryan Smyth was traded, and then the team wasn't even bad enough to get a top-five pick. This year already, clutch scorer and shutdown specialist Fernando Pisani is looking at the end of his career thanks to a bout with Ulcerative Colitis, a devestating condition talked about more below. And, oh yeah, Ethan Moreau is gone again, this time on account of a swollen ankle.
It turns out the answers to both injuries lie on the pre-season stat sheet. Andrew Cogliano (four goals, six points) and Kyle Brodziak (five points) are first and second respectively amongst Oilers rookies in exhibition scoring. Cogliano's goal totals, in fact, lead all Edmonton players, and put him near the top league-wide. It doesn't hurt that three of them came against the rival Calgary Flames. With both players locking up roster spots- Brodziak was close to a shoe-in, but 'Cogs' was just named as such Friday – the loss of the team's top two defensive forwards is just sort of dampened. While Brodziak won't register more than 35 points over a full season, Cogliano is worth a promotion from your keeper league farm team. A fifty-point player in the NCAA last season, the speedster has been compared to fellow Canadian Paul Kariya for- what else?- his game-changing speed and ability to work with the puck while in full-flight.
Injury: Dan Boyle, 4-6 Weeks (Lacerated Wrist)
Replacement: Shane O'Brien (in terms of ice time and opportunity)
One of the odder injuries in NHL lore couldn't have happened to a more critical player. Already a mess from the blueline back- actually, from the top line back- the Tampa Bay Lightning lost #1 defenseman Dan Boyle when one of his skates fell off its hook… and onto his arm. The resulting cut required four stitches and damaged a vital tendon in the wrist, one of those things a puck-rushing rearguard needs to play hockey.
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