The Carolina Hurricanes have announced that Dougie Hamilton did indeed undergo surgery on his left leg today to repair a fractured fibula. The defenseman was injured last night when falling awkwardly into the boards and will be out indefinitely. Hamilton will be replaced at the upcoming All-Star game by teammate Jaccob Slavin.
Head coach Rod Brind’Amour told team reporter Michael Smith that the injury was very similar to the one that kept teammate Jordan Staal out for three months in 2014, which at this point must seem like an optimistic goal. That would bring Hamilton back near the start of the playoffs, as long as Carolina can get there without him.
It’s hard to replace a player that does as much as Hamilton, but the Hurricanes may be one of the few clubs in the league with enough defense to do so. Already they were using Jake Gardiner much less than he is used to, giving the free agent signing just over 16 minutes a night after he averaged at least 20 in each of his eight first seasons. While Gardiner has been inconsistent this season, he may be able to eat up some of the minutes lost with Hamilton out.
Even behind Gardiner the team has Trevor van Riemsdyk and Haydn Fleury on the roster, not to mention Gustav Forsling, Jake Bean, Fredrik Claesson and Roland McKeown in the minor leagues who all have some level of NHL experience. Even Oliwer Kaski and Chase Priskie could be called upon in a pinch, though they haven’t proven themselves at the highest level yet. That kind of depth is an absolute luxury in the NHL these days, but should allow the Hurricanes to fill their blue line with enough talent to stay competitive in the Metropolitan Division.