The Tampa Bay Lightning announced this afternoon that Ryan Callahan had successful surgery to repair a labral tear in his hip. The team did not provide any specifics as to when or how the injury occurred. According to the team, Callahan is expected to miss approximately five months meaning that he would be ready to return in late November. Based on that time table, he would miss at least the first month of the regular season.
In 2015-2016, Callahan scored 10 goals and 28 points. Both of those numbers represent career lows for him since becoming a regular player in 2008-2009. At 31 years old, Callahan's declining production was a concern for the Lightning this season. However, the injury could have impacted his performance and without more information on when it occurred, measuring its effect is difficult.
Despite the decrease in scoring, Callahan played a vital role this past season for the Lighting as an assistant captain and a key part of the third line that head coach Jon Cooper used to match the opposition's best line. If Steven Stamkos does not return to the Lightning next season, Callahan would be the obvious choice to take over as captain.
The former New York Rangers winger acquired by the Lightning as part of the deal that sent Martin St. Louis to New York has four years left on his contract at just under six million dollars per year. He is expected to be an important part of the Lightning's forward core next season and should play a similar role to the one he filled this season.
His absence early in the season will likely create opportunities for younger players to fill his spot. Vladislav Namestnikov will be a prime candidate to see more minutes as would Jonathan Marchessault if he returns to Tampa. JT Brown will also take on an even more important role during that time as he is probably the player on the roster who can best replicate what Callahan brings to the team in terms of high pressure forechecking and cycle work on the offensive end.
If Callahan returns exactly five months from today, he would miss nineteen games and return on November 21st against Nashville. In that scenario, the Lightning will need to get through the first quarter of the season without one of their team leaders and best defensive forwards.