The Tampa Bay Lightning have announced that forward Conor Sheary left tonight’s game with what is being described as an upper-body injury. The 31-year-old was hit up high by a shot on his first shift of the game and remained on the bench. The puck may have hit Sheary on the wrist or possibly in the hand, however, it is difficult to tell from the video footage. Sheary did not come out to start the second period and a short time later the Lightning announced that he was done for the evening. There’s no information at this time on the severity of the ailment, or how long Sheary could be out of the lineup. At the moment he is listed as day-to-day.
Sheary signed a three-year $6MM contract in the offseason as a free agent and has struggled with his new team to start the year with just a goal and two assists in his first 12 games. The two-time Stanley Cup champion has been a good depth scoring option throughout his career and posted 34 goals and 46 assists over the last two seasons with the Washington Capitals in 153 games. Sheary was a big part of the Pittsburgh Penguins back-to-back Stanley Cup victories in 2016 and 2017 and appeared as though he could be a fixture in the top-6 for the future. However, as his career has gone on he has become more of a middle -6 option for teams.
If Sheary is unable to play on Thursday when Tampa Bay takes on the Chicago Blackhawks, then it is likely that Austin Watson will take his place. Watson has dressed in four games so far this season and has yet to register a point. The 31-year-old was a late signing after converting a PTO into a one-year deal with the Lightning. Watson won’t put up points at the same pace as Sheary, but he does add sandpaper and size to the team’s bottom six.