Well, it could be much worse. After suffering a broken fibula Wednesday taking part in the Rangers on-ice conditioning test, Derek Stepan is projected to miss 4-6 weeks, according to general manager Glen Sather, via the team's twitter.
#NYR President and GM Glen Sather announced that Derek Stepan suffered a non-displaced fractured fibula & will be sidelined for 4-to-6 weeks— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) September 24, 2014
The Rangers won't play their season opener against Columbus for another 15 days, eating up two weeks of recovery time. Factor in the Rangers are only scheduled to play nine games in the month of October, and Stepan could really avoid being held out for significant time. In some ways, the team and Stepan may have benefited big time from the time of the injury, and the lack of games to be played in the schedule's opening month. Should Stepan's recovery take him into November, and the Rangers play five games in the first nine days of the month. Realistically, a return date could fall somewhere in that stretch.
This also begs the question as to how the team will choose to fill the void in the lineup left by Stepan. With a longer recovery time, an external option would probably have been more logical. While the team may very well still pursue a trade, considering the team was able to navigate some adversity at the beginning of last season (see: the nine-game road trip it opened the year with), and Alain Vigneault may forge ahead with the group he has. The Rangers head coach also indicated during his media availability Dominic Moore could be used as a temporary replacement to fill Stepan's spot.