The Tampa Bay Lightning's chances at making a deep run in the playoffs have taken a huge hit, as the team has lost another crucial player to a dangerous
General manager Steve Yzerman announced Saturday that Lightning captain and star winger Steven Stamkos has been diagnosed with a blood clot in his arm. He will undergo vascular surgery Monday to remove the clot and is expected to miss one-to-three months after going under the knife.
"Obviously this situation is extremely disappointing because I wanted to help my team clinch a playoff spot and prepare for the start of the postseason," Stamkos said in a statement. "During my recovery I will do all I can to help my teammates, and I hope to rejoin them soon in the Stanley Cup Playoffs."
Stamkos currently leads all Lightning scorers with 36 goals and 64 points, did not practice on Friday and was ruled out of Saturday's win over New Jersey with what was called an upper-body injury.
The reigning Eastern Conference champions are already without defenseman Anton Stralman, who is recovering from a broken fibula. This makes the loss of Stamkos even bigger. For his part, Yzerman is trying to keep moral high among the rest of the team as they attempt to strive on without their top offensive threat.
"For us, it's an opportunity for others," Yzerman said. "It's something we'll have to rally around.
"No one is going to feel sorry for us."
If Stamkos is indeed out for the full three months, that rules him out of the Stanley Cup playoffs and brings him to July 2, the day after he's set to become an unrestricted free agent.
The Lightning have not ruled out a return for forward Jonathan Drouin, as they may attempt to offset the loss of Stamkos by giving Drouin another shot to perform.
"It's definitely something we would have to consider," said Yzerman on Drouin.
Not only is this a truly devastating loss for the Bolts', but it may also spell the final game that Stamkos plays in a Lightning uniform with unrestricted free agency looming at season's end.
Steve Yzerman announces Steven Stamkos has a blood clot in his arm and will undergo vascular surgery, will miss 1-3 months. #TBLightning— Bryan Burns (@BBurnsNHL) April 3, 2016
On if Stamkos might have played last game in TB, #tblightning Yzerman said the hope is still to sign Stamkos to a long-term extension.— Joe Smith (@TBTimes_JSmith) April 3, 2016