While it seems too early in the season to be posting an injury update for the Syracuse Crunch, news broke Sunday that made it a necessity. Most already knew that Daniel Walcott and Kevin Lynch, two players slated for the Crunch, were hurt during the Tampa Bay Lightning’s preseason last week. What wasn’t known was the extent of their injuries. That news was released late Sunday morning, and...well...ouch.
INJURY UPDATE: Daniel Walcott is out 5-6 months with a shoulder injury. Kevin Lynch is out 4-6 weeks with a lower body injury.— Caley Chelios (@CaleyChelios) September 23, 2018
The way this impacts the players and the team is multifaceted.
Lynch was looking forward to his first professional season under a two-way contract, something that finally came nearly ten years after he was drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2009. Although the news certainly could be worse - he will hopefully be back on the ice for the start of November - it’s somewhat cruel that he was hurt that badly while playing the first NHL preseason minutes of his career. Lynch has been a large part of the Crunch’s leadership core in the past, and the team starting the season without him will be rough.
Walcott, who was signed to a one-year contact after his initial ELC expired, was a strong candidate to carry the C this season in Syracuse. For him to lose almost all of his “show me” contract year is devastating to both him and the Crunch. Adding to how awful it is, Walcott clearly came into the Lightning’s preseason training ready to play and ready to impress: He was the overall fittest player to enter camp this fall.
Lightning assistant coach Derek Lalonde told me the trophy gets awarded to the “fitness testing winners.” This year’s fittest rookie winner is Mathieu Joseph, and overall was Walcott. pic.twitter.com/DZswzPLrAa— Caley Chelios (@CaleyChelios) September 23, 2018
Walcott has been a huge influence on the Crunch both on and off the ice. On the ice, Walcott was someone the coaching staff could move with ease between defense, his natural position, and forward, depending on organizational needs. He wore an A last season, and was granted the C for one game when Erik Condra was out with injury. Off the ice, he was one of the faces of the team in the community, and was the Crunch’s Man of the Year last season, where he was recognized for his service to the community. Although Walcott will most certainly still be present around the team and the city, it certainly won’t be the same.
Walcott and Lynch join the growing list of Crunch players who are starting off the season recovering from injury. Forwards Oliver Archambault and Michael Bournival, and defenseman Ben Thomas are all also getting a late start to the season thanks to injuries incurred last season. Word is that Archambault is eyeing a December return, while Bournival and Thomas will hopefully return in November. None of those dates are certain, however. Bournival will also require waivers to be assigned once he’s healthy.
Providing some relief to this is the Lightning’s acquisition of Danick Martel this past Saturday. Martel was snagged off waivers from the Philadelphia organization, where he spent three seasons with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms of the AHL. All indications point to Martel being a strong community guy, just the kind of player the Lightning values at all levels of their organization.
After three years in the minors, Martel might just be ready to take on the NHL. That expectation could be why the Lightning snagged him. If that works out, him claiming a spot will free up another forward that could be sent to Syracuse.
Out of those forwards left in the Lightning’s camp, the bubble players are Martel, Cory Conacher, Adam Erne, Mathieu Joseph, Mitchell Stephens, and Alex Volkov. Yesterday, Alan speculated that three of those players will probably find space on the roster, leaving the rest to be assigned to the Crunch.
Of note is that Erne, Martel, and Conacher are waiver risks. Martel has an extra risk to him in that the Flyers could just claim him right back and immediately assign him to the AHL, much like the Lightning did when they re-claimed Dumont last season. This might make it more difficult to sneak him through. Andreoff and Dumont were placed on waivers by the Lightning yesterday (along with Edward Pasqualle, Carter Verhaeghe, and Cameron Gaunce) and they have until noon today to clear.