Jori Lehtera (left) and Logan Couture (Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images)
The excellent San Jose Sharks center had a freak fall in practice on Thursday and the news isn't good – but it could have been much worse. How will the Sharks handle life with the two-way force on the shelf?
It could have been much worse. When initial reports surfaced that San Jose Sharks center Logan Couture had broken his fibula, memories of Steven Stamkos' lost 2013-14 season immediately sprang to mind. But the news surrounding Couture turns out to be a little more positive now that the Sharks have officially weighed in.
According to a statement from GM Doug Wilson, Couture has a "fractured right fibula at the ankle" and will undergo surgery in San Jose. The excellent two-way center is expected to miss 4-6 weeks – much easier to stomach than the four months Stamkos lost.
Still, this is cruddy timing for the Sharks, who are off to a flying start under new coach Peter DeBoer. Couture, who was centering a line with Patrick Marleau and Joel Ward on the wings, was a top possession player for San Jose through three games – all victories.
The Sharks also have the best goal differential in the NHL at +11, giving up just one goal so far under DeBoer's defensively responsible system. Couture is tailor-made for such a regime, so his loss will undeniably hurt. Sure, San Jose still has a great cadre of forwards at its disposal, but it's hard to replace such a player for more than a month. Couture also plays on both special teams units for the Sharks.
As Curtis Pashelka of the San Jose Mercury News noted yesterday, the Sharks were already playing with a 22-man roster and Melker Karlsson, an obvious call-up candidate from the AHL, is hobbled himself. Center Ben Smith, who had been a healthy scratch, will most likely see time and it will be interesting to see who the Sharks call up to bolster their roster. Will rookie Nikolay Goldobin get his first NHL look?