The New York Rangers will be without one of their offseason acquisitions, as several reports including Larry Brooks of the New York Post indicate Sammy Blais has suffered a torn ACL and will miss the rest of the season. The injury occurred Sunday night against the New Jersey Devils, when Blais collided with P.K. Subban. Brooks adds that surgery on the knee will have to wait a few weeks for the swelling to subside. The team has now confirmed the injury, noting that Blais faces a six to eight-month recovery. Greg McKegg is back up from the AHL.
Blais, 25, was the player the Rangers received in exchange for Pavel Buchnevich earlier this year. He found a nice role in the team’s lineup adding his patented physicality, but was still looking for his first New York goal. In 14 games Blais had four points, 17 penalty minutes, and 37 hits.
It’s not that the Rangers are losing a forward that logs 18 minutes a night and carries the offense, but Blais was a perfect representation of the kind of hockey the new front office wanted to play. ’Hard to play against’ could describe the 6’2″ forward, a goal that general manager Chris Drury and staff had chased all offseason. Now with this injury, they’ll have to find someone else to take his minutes in the middle of the roster. Blais had been averaging close to 14 minutes a night through the first month of the season, including some time on the powerplay.
Though he carries a $1.5MM cap hit that could be moved to long-term injured reserve, the Rangers aren’t pushing the salary cap ceiling this season and will likely move him to normal IR. That said, the young forward is heading into an arbitration year as a restricted free agent, meaning he’ll have almost no leverage to bring up after a lost year. The Rangers could potentially get a slight discount because of this injury, a small silver lining given they have massive extensions for Adam Fox and Mika Zibanejad kicking in next season and will need all the cap space they can get.