Earlier today, Derek Stepan left on-ice conditioning tests after going down untouched with an apparent leg injury.
The Rangers provided an update on Stepan's status, and the prognosis isn't good, as the Rangers top center fractures his fibula.
#NYR say Derek Stepan has a fractured fibula. No timetable— Pat Leonard (@PLeonardNYDN) September 24, 2014
Stepan was undoubtedly the Rangers top center, which leaves the team in a bit of a bind only about two weeks away from its season opener. Add in the team's lack of depth at center, and this turns up the heat on J.T. Miller, and potentially Kevin Hayes.
There's no timetable for Stepan's return right now, but he'll obviously miss the beginning on the season. Entering the final year of his contract, Stepan led the Rangers in assists last year, while he averaged the most minutes per night of any returning forward. Another thing that shouldn't get lost in this is the Rangers just lost another penalty killer, and with Brain Boyle and Ryan Callahan in Tampa Bay, they continue to get thinner on that end of special teams as well.
Alain Vigneault spoke to the media, and gave what he estimated to be a timetable for Stepan's return, while all indications are that the team will provide a more definitive update later today.
AV says in his experience, injury like Derek Stepan suffered today is usually a 4-6 week absence. Team will have more later today.— Andrew Gross (@AGrossRecord) September 24, 2014