According to Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register, the Anaheim Ducks are going to be without yet another key player for the time being. Stephens reports that the Ducks placed young forward Ondrej Kase on the injured reserve on Thursday. The move is retroactive to Tuesday, indicating that the ongoing issue stems from the head injury suffered in Monday night’s game against the Calgary Flames. Kase left the contest in the first period after taking a check to the face from Flames defenseman Dougie Hamilton.
Kase had gotten off to a strong start to the new season, recording a goal and an assist in the team’s first three games. As a rookie last season, the quick Czech winger posted 15 points in 52 games and added a pair of goals in the playoffs. Kase was expected to take on a larger role for Anaheim in 2017-18 after a promising first year and still should despite his current predicament. By making the IR placement retroactive to Tuesday, the Ducks will be able to put Kase back in the lineup after only two more games.
Kase will certainly be gunning to get back on the ice as soon as possible, assuming he is able. Anaheim has one of the deepest forward groups in the league and any missed time can mean lost opportunities and a lower spot on the totem poll. With star two-way center Ryan Kesler currently sidelined, the Ducks are more top heavy than usual and Kase looked like the star of the third line through the first few games. He wants to get back to that role as quickly as he can so as to continue carving out his place on the team. The 2014 seventh-round pick has already exceeded expectations, but a permanent top-nine job in Anaheim going forward is next on the agenda.
In the meantime, the Ducks are expected to roll out a third line of Chris Wagner–Antoine Vermette–Logan Shaw for their upcoming games. The team recently sent high-scoring QMJHL-product Giovanni Fiore to the AHL’s San Diego Gulls following his NHL debut, but still have young power forward Nick Ritchie, free agent addition Dennis Rasmussen, and recent call-up Nic Kerdiles as other top-nine options if need be.