In what has been a nightmarish preseason, the Carolina Hurricanes now have lost forward Jeff Skinner indefinitely to a concussion.
The Hurricanes announced Monday that Skinner, who had a team-high 33 goals last season, was concussed by a hit to the head early in Sunday’s preseason game against the Washington Capitals. On an offensive-zone play, Skinner was turning when he took an elbow in the face from Caps defenseman Matt Niskanen.
The Canes lost center Jordan Staal to a broken leg in their second preseason game, Sept. 23 against Buffalo. Staal, the Canes’ most physical player and an alternate captain, will need an estimated three to four months to recover.
Skinner, 22, was reevaluated Monday and general manager Ron Francis later confirmed Skinner was concussed. The 2011 Calder Trophy winner missed games during the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 seasons with concussions.
“He will continue to be monitored by our team doctors and go through proper protocols in the coming days,” Francis said in a statement.
Forward Elias Lindholm also was injured during the Canes’ 5-2 loss Sunday at the Verizon Center. The Canes did not practice Monday and there was no update Monday on Lindholm’s condition.
Niskanen was not penalized on the play Sunday and there was no supplemental discipline announced Monday by the NHL. Niskanen told CSN Washington’s Chuck Gormley after the game that Skinner spun into his elbow and that the hit to the head was not intentional.
“He has a history of head stuff, so you don’t want to see that. He’s good for hockey. I hope he’s okay,” Niskanen told Gormley.
Canes coach Bill Peters said he talked with Skinner after the game and said Skinner told him he “felt fine.”
Skinner missed 16 games with a concussion after taking an open-ice hit from Andy Sutton of the Edmonton Oilers in a December 2011 game. He suffered a second concussion in Toronto in February 2013, sitting out five games.
Skinner took a big open-ice hit from defenseman Jared Cowen of the Ottawa Senators in April 2013. He sat out one game with an upper-body injury but was found not to be concussed.
Skinner and Lindholm opened Sunday’s game on a line with center Victor Rask, and Lindholm was coming off a hat trick in a 5-1 win Friday over the Sabres. Lindholm took a puck to the leg blocking a shot and left Sunday’s game limping.
The Canes, who open the regular season Friday against the New York Islanders, announced Monday they planned to assign forwards Zach Boychuk and Chad LaRose to the Charlotte Checkers, their AHL affiliate. Boychuk was placed on waivers with the purpose of sending him to the Checkers; LaRose, who was out of hockey last season, was released from his professional tryout and has an AHL contract.
The personnel moves, made before the announcement on Skinner, reduced the Canes roster to 22 players, with Skinner among the 12 forwards.
Canes coach Bill Peters said after Staal’s injury that he would replace the center “by committee.” Peters now must replace two key players – and if Lindholm’s injury is more serious, a third.