Not much was made of the Anaheim Ducks placing defenseman Josh Manson on injured reserve late last week. At first it seemed like the shutdown defender may only miss a pair of games and the team somewhat nonchalantly added that there would be a later update. It turns out that the recent trade for Erik Gudbranson may have been about more than just adding depth. The team has issued a statement today on their injured players which states that Manson has suffered a left knee sprain and is expected to miss the next five to ten weeks.
Yet, Elliott Teaford of The OC Register adds that GM Bob Murray seemed somewhat relieved about the diagnosis. Murray and others with the Ducks worried that Manson’s condition was much worse. The injury certainly did not look good. Facing the Dallas Stars last Thursday, Manson fell awkwardly while checking Stars forward Jason Dickinson. He had to be helped off the ice and seemed unable to put any weight on his left leg. The concern with that kind of incident is always a tendon injury, either the ACL or Achilles, which takes months to recover from.
Nevertheless, the possibility of a ten-week hiatus for Manson remains daunting for the Ducks. The Anaheim blue line has been stripped of considerable talent over the last few years and no longer has the talent level nor the depth that once the hallmark of the team. Manson has emerged as one of the most important members of the club, posting a career high 22:18 average time on ice last year while leading the team in hits. The year before he even garnered Norris Trophy votes with a 37-point and plus-34 season. He was back at it to begin the 2019-20 campaign, leading the Ducks in hits per game and pacing himself for a career-high in blocked shots prior to his injury. He helped Anaheim get off to a solid start to the year, but the question is how they will fare, especially defensively, while he remains on the shelf. A five-week return could potentially have Manson back by the end of next month, but the ten-week maximum means he has played his last hockey of the 2019 calendar year. Gudbranson will be asked to do much of what the Ducks have leaned on Manson for in his stead, but the likes of Brendan Guhle, Korbinian Holzer, and Josh Mahura may also have to step up.