Henrik Zetterberg Undergoes Surgery: Likely to Miss Remainder of Regular Season

Ezra Shaw

In case you missed it, the Red Wings announced yesterday that team captain Henrik Zetterberg underwent successful back surgery to remove a loose bone fragment which had lodged itself in a nerve. The team also announced that they'll re-evaluate Zetterberg's condition in eight weeks.

For those doing the math, the eighth week of this timeframe ends on Friday the 18th of April, five days after the end of the NHL's regular season. While the nature of back injuries can vary, this isn't expected to be career-threatening.

Of course, Ken Holland did leave a glimmer of hope in telling the Associated Press that eight weeks is a standard, but he could be back sooner (or later), but I wouldn't expect Zetterberg to come off long-term injured reserve while the regular season continues and the salary cap counts.

From a team standpoint, Zetterberg going on LTIR solves the problem of Stephen Weiss returning to the lineup. Z's cap hit will be replaceable while he's injured. If the injury lasts until the end of the regular season, then whatever salary they have on the books would be able to be bolstered by Zettterberg's return rather than pushed out. Basically this means that we may not have to worry about the "must trade dollar-for-dollar" considerations which limited rosterbating trade discussions to at least the outer-realm of realism.

This would also give the Wings the potential to play in the playoffs with a $70M roster in a $64M cap year. I'd hop on my high horse and take up arms over "the spirit of the cap", but after watching the Wings essentially playing with a $37M payroll for large stretches, the strings on my tiny violin are frayed to the point of uselessness. Sorry whiners, but I don't give a shit.

Of course, this is moot if the Wings fail to make a move and/or fail to make the playoffs, which is a real possibility without their best player this season. A move has to make sense and I'm sure we can all furiously practice in the comments throwing out players in return for better ones, but this news gives flexibility.

All things considered, I'd simply rather have Zetterberg in the lineup for the last 24 games of the season than anything, but Ken Holland has some decisions to make before the March 5th trade deadline.

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