Yesterday at the Saveology.com Iceplex, a metaphorical wrench was thrown in the Panthers’ plan for the upcoming year. Erik Gudbranson, in an informal workout session, apparently badly injured his shoulder. Even though he received treatment right away and the Panthers have yet to announce his injury, Harvey Fialkov of the Sun-Sentinel was tipped off that Gudbranson could be out of action for up to four months.
Gudbranson could still be considered the Panthers’ sixth defenseman, even after his ice time increased late in the season and during the playoffs last year. His NHL stats, though they aren’t spectacular (2 goals, 6 assists, -19 plus/minus, 78 penalty minutes), were decent enough to hold off his competition and keep his spot on the blue line. As the year progressed, you could really see coach Kevin Dineen‘s confidence in Gudbranson grow. His ice time grew, he took more chances in the offensive zone, and he took more faceoffs in his own zone – I detailed his progress as a player about a month ago. Most people were looking forward to see if Gudbranson’s second NHL season would push him up to star status.