Things seemed to be looking up for the Devils as Travis Zajac, Michael McLeod, and Marcus Johansson were progressing nicely towards a return to the lineup. Therefore, it should be no surprise that another Devils player is taking at least one of their spots on the IR list.
Mirco Mueller took a hit from John Hayden and did not return to the game after the first period. After more evaluation today back in New Jersey, Amanda Stein dropped this news:
BREAKING:#NJDevils: Mirco Mueller has a fractured clavicle from hit delivered by Blackhawks John Hanley on Sunday.— Amanda Stein (@amandacstein) November 14, 2017
•Will have surgery on Thursday.
Forgiving the typo, this hit by Hayden has sidelined Mueller for the foreseeable future.
Mueller looked to be in obvious discomfort immediately after the hit as well:
Mueller had seen some PK time this season and the obvious replacement is Ben Lovejoy, but in terms of call-ups for the big club, this news does not have a huge impact. This bring the team down to seven defensemen on the roster, a mark which is more than serviceable while allowing Travis Zajac to fill a roster spot for free straight off IR for Thursday’s game against the Maple Leafs. Mueller had played in 13 games this season and had two assists to show for it, so the offensive impact is not particularly significant, but his defensive game had been growing into his large frame as the season progressed. This is a setback for the young defenseman and either Lovejoy or Dalton Prout will have to step up in his absence.
As mentioned, Mueller will have surgery on Thursday and the team will be able to discern a more accurate timetable in regards to his return. Most sources list an average recovery time of about eight weeks, but this can vary depending on surgery and rehabilitation. Regardless, if another Devils defenseman went down, the team would find itself in an unenviable position as their defensive pipeline is nowhere near as strong as the group of forwards waiting in the AHL for their opportunity.
Here’s to a speedy recovery for the big Swiss defender.
Who should replace Mueller on the PK unit? Who is the first defenseman called in case of an emergency? Who will be in the lineup most nights, Lovejoy or Prout? Let us know what you think in the comments.