According to Ducks GM Bob Murray, both Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen have torn labrums and require shoulder surgery. Lindholm’s recovery period is deemed four to five months, while Vatanen will need even longer. The GM also noted that Nate Thompson was playing with a hairline fracture in his ankle, while Jared Boll had a back injury during the playoffs. Kevin Bieksa told reporters earlier today that he played with a torn MCL.
Obviously, the repercussions for the Ducks are immense when it comes to Lindholm and Vatanen, two of their top three defenders. A minimum of four months puts them ready at the end of September after much of training camp, while anything longer will delay the start of their season. As Anaheim goes into the summer—and especially the expansion draft—looking to sort out their overflow at defense, injuries of this magnitude could easily change the appetite for them around the league. Vatanen in particular has been rumored to be available, as the Ducks prepare a contract extension for Cam Fowler. At 25 and locked into a reasonable deal for the next three seasons, Vatanen may have been the one dangled in front of potential trade partners.
The Ducks will have an issue with protection, as Bieksa still currently holds a no-movement clause and the team can’t really afford to go the eight skaters route. Even if Bieksa waived his clause, and the Ducks were able to protect all four of their young defensemen (including Josh Manson, who currently projects to be left exposed) it would mean exposing Jakob Silfverberg and Andrew Cogliano up front, both players the team would rather not lose for nothing. Moving a defenseman has been expected, but with the start of the season now in doubt for two of them it gets even harder.
While every team comes out of the playoffs with terrible injuries—just ask Nashville, the Ducks’ opponent who lost Ryan Johansen to an emergency surgery right after a game—these two are particularly troublesome for the franchise. We’ll have to wait and see how the team deals with the situation, and whether they progress in their rehab quick enough to start the season.
If Bieksa needs surgery, it does complicate the idea some have of a buyout to protect the Ducks in the expansion draft. You can’t buyout injured players, and surely a torn MCL will not be healed by June 15th when the window opens. The buyout would have been a last-ditch solution anyway, as Bieksa is on a 35+ contract and would cause his full $4MM cap-hit regardless. It’s hard to imagine the Ducks eating that just to help them out in the expansion draft.