ATLANTA - The Atlanta Thrashers have a month to preview their possible future without star forward Ilya Kovalchuk.
Kovalchuk, the Thrashers' captain and one of the league's top scorers, is expected to miss three to five weeks with a broken bone in his right foot, the team announced on Monday.
The team said the break was found in a CT scan.
Thrashers general manager Don Waddell said Kovalchuk is expected to miss three to five weeks.
"Injuries are a part of the game," Waddell said in a statement on the team's website. "It's very disappointing for Kovy and for us to lose him."
The injury comes as Kovalchuk's future with the team is uncertain. Kovalchuk, the team's all-time leading scorer, could become an unrestricted free agent in July.
Kovalchuk was injured when he was struck by a puck during the first period of Saturday's game against the San Jose Sharks. He is tied for second in the league with nine goals.
The injury could create an opportunity for rookie Evander Kane in a more prominent role.
After Kovalchuk's injury, Kane joined Nik Antropov and Max Afinogenov on the team's top line against San Jose.
The 18-year-old Kane, the fourth overall pick in this year's draft, has five points - three goals and two assists - in his first eight NHL games.
Rich Peverley is second on the team with five goals and tied with Kovalchuk with 10 points.
Kovalchuk, the first overall pick in 2001, has 306 goals and 261 assists in his eight-year career with Atlanta.
"Now it's an opportunity for some other players to step up," Waddell said. "The time that he'll be lost, we'll miss him, but our team will continue on and we'll win hockey games."