If you’re a defenseman in Boston or Arizona, stay safe. Both the Boston Bruins and Arizona Coyotes have been ravaged by injuries to their back end this season, with the latest victim being Jason Demers. John Gambadoro and Matt Layman of AZ Sports are reporting that Demers will miss the entire season with a knee injury suffered Thursday night. The Coyotes had already placed Jakob Chychrun back on injured reserve where he joined Alex Goligoski, and recalled Robbie Russo from Tucson.
Demers has never been a huge point producer, but is nevertheless one of the most important defenseman on the Coyotes. Acquired from the Florida Panthers before last season, he logged more than 21 minutes a night in 2017-18 while recording his usual solid possession statistics. While that ice time has dropped slightly this season, he’s still an effective right-handed defender that can be used in almost any situation. Even with the Panthers retaining some salary he still costs the Coyotes nearly $4MM per season, a salary that a team like Arizona doesn’t hand out without expecting substantial contributions.
The Coyotes are actually the only team in the Pacific Division with a positive goal differential, but will have a tough time continuing that with such a battered blue line. Players like Russo are not long-term options, which will bring about plenty of speculation about whether the team will go out and try to acquire some more depth. While Chychrun and Goligoski are expected to return before long, losing a player like Demers will continue to put stress on that blue line all season. For a team trying to compete for a playoff spot, there might have to be a change in the near future.