The Tampa Bay Lightning announced Thursday that Ryan Callahan has undergone shoulder surgery. In his exit interviews, he mentioned to reporters that he was playing with an injured shoulder to finish out the year. He initially injured it on a road trip to the Arizona Coyotes. That initial injury caused him to miss some time before returning. He re-aggravated the injury in game two of the first round against the New Jersey Devils. He missed two games before returning for game five.
The expected recovery time for Callahan has been announced as five months. That would put him ready to play in the first few weeks of the 2018-19 season. Entering the 2016-17 season, Callahan had undergone hip surgery in the off-season. The initial time table was for him to return about a month into the season, but he made his debut just a handful of games into the schedule. In retrospect, he seems that he may have rushed back from the injury and never played at 100%. He eventually ended the season early with another surgery. The timing allowed him a full off season to recover.
For this surgery, he’ll be back in that same position as he was in 2016-17 without the benefit of an off season of full training to prepare to play again. It is my hope that he will take his time and make sure that he is back at full strength and ready to go without any questions when he makes his season debut. While there is a lot to quibble about with the size of his contract, he is still a leader and contributor to this team. I would like to see him be able to finish the season without re-injuring the shoulder or requiring another surgery.
This will also open up a little more competition in training camp for his roster spot to start the year. As I mentioned in my Armchair GM article the other day, there’s already quite a bit of competition set for the couple of forward spots available. Callahan being unavailable for the first few weeks of the season could mean that the competition stretches into the start of the season. At that point, it may become a meritocracy for who earns their keep and hangs on to their roster spot when Callahan returns and who goes back to the AHL with the Syracuse Crunch.