The Dallas Stars have lost young star goaltender Jake Oettinger for the next little while, after he pulled himself out of Saturday’s game. General manager Jim Nill told reporters including Saad Yousuf of The Athletic that Oettinger will be re-evaluated in a week’s time for the lower-body injury he is dealing with.
Now, the Stars face a difficult issue. The team cannot recall Anton Khudobin without making a significant cap move, like putting Oettinger on long-term injured reserve. The only other two netminders signed to NHL contracts are Adam Scheel and Remi Poirier, who both are playing in the ECHL. Matthew Murray, Khudobin’s partner, is signed to an AHL contract and would have to be signed to an NHL deal in order to be recalled. None of the three has any NHL experience.
That mean’s it is the Scott Wedgewood show, for the time being, something that would’ve been difficult to predict when he was being claimed off waivers by the Arizona Coyotes almost exactly a year ago. While Wedgewood has shown an ability to play at the NHL level in the past, he only actually has 80 appearances and is 0-2-1 this season with an .880 save percentage.
These in-between injuries – ones that don’t keep a player out for more than ten games, thus removing the possibility of LTIR – have become increasingly difficult for some teams to deal with, given cap constraints. As clubs continue to push their salary chart right up to the cap ceiling, they remove any room for in-season maneuvering.
For Oettinger, it’s a difficult break during what was shaping up to be his true breakout season. After starring in last year’s playoffs, he had an incredible .952 save percentage so far, only allowing nine goals on 186 shots. Hopefully the 23-year-old will be able to quickly recover from this injury and get back in the net to continue his early Vezina contention.