The Carolina Hurricanes have announced that center Jordan Staal has been placed on IR after suffering a concussion last Sunday.
Replacing Jordan Staal During Injury
Staal provides veteran leadership on this young team and is a solid top six forward. Staal’s best asset is his dominance in the face-off circle, winning over 60% of his draws this year. He is great defensive forward but has also tallied nine points in 21 games this year.
Needless to stay, Staal has a large presence for the Hurricanes both on and off the ice. With no time table set for his return, other players will have to step up to fill the void.
Phil Di Giuseppe
Phil Di Giuseppe has been in and out of the Canes lineup throughout his career and recently has been playing for the teams AHL affiliate: the Charlotte Checkers. In wake of the Staal injury, Di Giuseppe joined the big club. Di Giuseppe is a gritty player who excels on the forecheck, and plays a high-energy game. After spending some time in Charlotte, Di Giuseppe should be playing with a chip on his shoulder, and the goal to solidify a roster spot. He needs to continue his frenetic pace on the forecheck and bring a physical presence to a team that just lost their hits leader.
Derek Ryan made his NHL debut last year but started this season in Charlotte as the Checkers captain. Ryan has appeared in each of the Canes last eight games and is playing around 13 minutes a night. He has seen some important time on the power play and scored a game-winning power play goal on Sunday. In the faceoff circle he’s won 56% of his face-offs and will need to stay strong with Staal out of the lineup. He also needs to continue to provide offense and scoring on the power play.
Saying that a player with 19 points through 20 games should step up sounds crazy. However without Staal, there is no doubt that this is Jeff Skinner‘s team. This is the first year that Skinner has sported an “A” on his sweater and he has played accordingly. This year, Skinner has been a more physical and confident hockey player and the stats are no surprise. Skinner must stay the course and continue to play his game. If he starts to feel more pressure without Staal and tries to do too much, it could be a disaster for the playoff hopeful Hurricanes.
Missing Staal is no ideal situation but coach Bill Peters has the bodies and talent to keep this team afloat before big #11 is able to return.