3 teams facing significant injury trouble to begin the season

by
Charles LeClaire / USA Today Sports

The grueling chase of the Stanley Cup has taken its toll on a few clubs. Three of the league's final four teams from the 2017 postseason are dealing with significant injury issues heading into the 2017-18 campaign.

Here is how these injuries will affect those clubs moving forward.

Ottawa Senators

Player Injury Prognosis
D Erik Karlsson Foot Status uncertain for season opener
C Derick Brassard Shoulder Won't be cleared for contact until Oct. 6
LW Clarke MacArthur Concussion Failed physical; could miss entire season

The Ottawa Senators' magical run to the Eastern Conference final has come with serious consequences. Erik Karlsson carried the team despite having one good foot, but it doesn't appear he will take such risks to begin the season. Karlsson told TSN's Ian Mendes that he will come back when he's "100 percent, whether that's in October or November."

That obviously doesn't sound promising. Karlsson is the straw that stirs the Senators' drink. Without him, Ottawa's defense projects to look something like this:

LD RD
Thomas Chabot Dion Phaneuf
Fredrik Claesson Cody Ceci
Johnny Oduya Chris Wideman

Given how competitive the Atlantic Division looks this year, a slow start could significantly hamper the Sens' playoff chances. It only makes matters worse that Clarke MacArthur's career is potentially over, and second-line center Derick Brassard could miss a month.

Anaheim Ducks

Player Injury Prognosis
C Ryan Kesler Hip Out until at least December
D Hampus Lindholm Shoulder Likely out until Nov. 1
D Sami Vatanen Shoulder Likely out until mid-November

Kesler is arguably the second-most important player on the Ducks, behind Ryan Getzlaf. As one of the league's best defensive centers, he plays all the tough minutes against the opposition's top lines. In his absence, Rickard Rakell will attempt to fill the void, but it's a tall task considering he spent most of last season playing wing.

Lindholm and Vatanen are Anaheim's second and third-best defensemen, respectively, behind Cam Fowler. Luckily, it's better equipped to handle this loss than most teams. Francois Beauchemin and Korbinian Holzer will have to jump into the lineup full time, while youngsters Brandon Montour and Josh Manson will be asked to play larger roles.

Even with these key losses, the Ducks are still a playoff team, but they could fall behind enough to draw a tough road matchup in the first round. For a team with a "championship or bust" mentality, this would certainly decrease its chances at hoisting the Stanley Cup.

Nashville Predators

Player Injury Prognosis
D Ryan Ellis Knee Hoping to return by January 2018
C Nick Bonino Leg Will miss all of preseason

Nashville's core-four on defense has suddenly become the big three. Newly acquired Alexei Emelin will be asked to play a top-four role until Ellis returns. He is a physical defender, but lacks the offensive skills and puck-moving ability of Ellis.

With only one dangerous scoring line, Nashville relies heavily on the offense it generates from the back end, so it will dearly miss Ellis for the first half of the season.

Bonino was brought in to replace Mike Fisher as the teams' second-line center. His status remains uncertain for the season opener, but it's hard to imagine he'll be thrown right into action if he doesn't skate in a single preseason game. The combination of Calle Jarnkrok and Colton Sissons should be able to temporarily fill the second-line void just fine.

By now, some may forget that Nashville squeaked into the playoffs as the league's 16th-seed. It could be another uphill battle to get into the postseason this year.

(Photos courtesy: Action Images)