Rangers’ Blake Wheeler suffers gruesome injury against Habs; out for the game

NHL: Washington Capitals at New York Rangers
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

New York Rangers forward Blake Wheeler suffered a gruesome injury to his right leg during the first period against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night.

With nine minutes remaining in the opening period, Wheeler was trying to play the puck along the boards when he was hit by Montreal defenseman Jayden Struble. The force of the contact drove him back with his right ankle bending awkwardly underneath his own weight.

The 37-year-old veteran laid on the ice for an extended time, and had to helped off by several players. MSG cameras caught Wheeler in pain down the runway, and the injury does not look good.

New York announced Wheeler was out for the rest of the game with Peter Laviolette delivering a somber update after the game.

“It was tough for Blake,” he said. “We’ll evaluate it and address it tomorrow. He’s a veteran player that came here for a reason. You see something like that and it’s tough.”

Update: Blake Wheeler out for the season, per Larry Brooks

Related: Artemi Panarin on a career-high pace

Blake Wheeler injured for Rangers

NHL: Calgary Flames at New York Rangers
Brad Penner-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

After spending 12 seasons in Winnipeg, where he had his captaincy taken away in favor of leadership by committee approach in 2022, the Jets bought him out. That opened the door for a one-year deal with the cap-strapped Rangers at $800,000 last summer.

This season, Wheeler has registered nine goals and 12 assists for 21 points in 53 games. In the past, he was a top-six winger with the Jets, but has been moved all over the Rangers lineup in a complimentary role.

“I’m used to contributing on the score sheet,” said Wheeler earlier in the year. “The role that I have, it’s not quite as necessary, but I still take pride in it and I want to contribute. I want to bring value every day and I think I certainly feel like I’m bringing that every night the last few games.”

If Wheeler is out long term, that will increase the urgency for general manager Chris Drury to acquire a top-six right wing by the March 8 trade deadline. As they work out a potential deal, prospect Brennan Othmann could get another call up from the Hartford Wolf Pack.

Othmann, 21, has 13 goals and 20 assists for 33 points in 40 games in the American Hockey League. In recent weeks, he’s been moved to the right wing. He was scoreless in three games for the Rangers earlier in the season.

Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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