Marc Staal has had a rough last couple of weeks as he spent time as a healthy scratch. Now, the blueliner will be missing more time as the Rangers announced (Twitter link) that he has undergone surgery due to an infection in his ankle and he will be re-evaluated in two weeks.
The 33-year-old has played in 11 games so far this season and is averaging a career-low 18:25 per night. While his offensive production has been limited, he sits second on the team behind fellow defenseman Jacob Trouba in blocks per game with two.
With some of New York’s younger rearguards making a push for regular playing time, Staal’s role has been reduced and with him out of the picture for at least the next two weeks, he could find it even harder to draw back into the lineup if Ryan Lindgren does well in his absence. Brendan Smith, who has spent time on the wing this year, could also be shifted back on the blueline. With those two options available, the Rangers likely won’t need to recall anyone from AHL Hartford to take his place.
Staal has two years remaining on his contract with a $5.7MM cap hit. Considering his diminishing role this season, he was already a speculative buyout candidate in June. This issue, even though it’s a shorter-term one, won’t help his cause on being kept around for the final year of his deal.