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Over the past few seasons, the Anaheim Ducks have had horrible luck when it comes to the health of their roster. Most years, the injury bug strikes quite early. However, aside from Josh Manson‘s lengthy stint on the sidelines and a few other short-lived injuries, the roster has remained relatively healthy. That is, until recently.
In the span of just a few games, the Ducks have lost four players to injury, three of them predicted to spend the next 4-10 weeks on the sidelines. The first domino to fall was Nick Ritchie. A hip check from Washington Capitals defenseman Radko Gudas would force Ritchie out of the game with an MCL sprain. His predicted timetable for return is 6-10 weeks.
Troy Terry, Derek Grant, and Jacob Larsson were the next three to fall victim to the second wave of the injury bug during the game against the Philadelphia Flyers. Terry has been placed on injured reserve and is predicted to miss the next 10 weeks with a broken bone below his knee cap. Derek Grant has suffered an AC sprain to his shoulder, the time table for his return is 4-6 weeks. Lastly, Jacob Larsson, who is listed as day to day, suffered an undisclosed upper-body injury.
Larsson and Terry’s absence, while unfortunate, will not necessarily hurt the team as much as Grant and Ritchie’s absence. It seems as though Larsson has taken steps back in his development this season, struggling significantly to grasp the offensive aspects, as well as other areas, of the game. It earned him a ticket to San Diego a few weeks ago, and the decision to call him back up and send Josh Mahura back down the 5 was a puzzling decision.
Troy Terry has struggled to produce as expected this season as well. While some of that may be in part to the hype that has surrounded the 22-year-old 2015 5th round draft pick, he seems like he’s still on the path to finding himself as an NHL player, which, at his age, is still perfectly acceptable. After a broken bone ended his season last year, this injury will prove to be just another setback in his development as an NHL player.
Derek Grant has surprisingly been one of the Anaheim Ducks top 5 goal scorers this season, with 9 goals credited to his name. The team has struggled to produce offense, and losing one of their top goal scorers for the next 4-6 weeks is going to hurt, most likely leaving the Ducks floundering near the bottom of the Pacific Divison and Western Conference.
Finally, Nick Ritchie’s injury is going to cause more struggles than anyone realizes. While a lot of fans detest him and his constant penalties, he has been an important factor for the Ducks this season. He hasn’t shown up on the score sheet as often as we’d like to see, but he drives play and adds a physical flare to the lineup the Ducks don’t necessarily have in spades.
Injuries are never good news. However, if there are any positives we can take from this situation it would be this: having four injured players on the sidelines gives our AHL prospects valuable time in the NHL without the added stress of being playoff contenders. With the position the Anaheim Ducks currently hold in the standings, the playoffs at this point are highly unlikely. Isac Lundestrom, Max Jones, Sam Carrick, and others, now have the opportunity to hone their skills at the next level without being make or break players in the lineup.