How Important Is Ryane Clowe?

What if Ryan Clowe is actually more seriously injured than we think?

The New York Rangers made a blockbuster trade in the wee hours of the NHL Trade Deadline. They traded Marian Gaborik for Derick Brassard, Derek Dorsett and John Moore. But before they made that trade they made another move. The Rangers relinquished draft picks for the services of UFA-to-be Ryane Clowe.

The Rangers were hoping that Clowe's veteran savvy would help add some leadership to the locker room. His 68 games of playoff experience wouldn't hurt, either. Oh, he also excels at the type of hockey that John Tortorella loves. He crashes the net, goes to the tough areas of the ice, is physical, fights, can add offense and is great down low.

These are all reasons as to why the Clowe injury is so concerning.

Clowe has an injury. We don't officially know what it is. But, if you saw the look on his face as he was aided off the ice by teammates after taking an elbow to the head, well, we know what the injury is. It's a concussion -- again, I don't know that for sure, but I think it's pretty clear. Which means we have no idea how long it's going to take for him to return. He could be back tomorrow or he might miss the rest of the season. You simply don't know.

So how much would the Rangers miss him against the Washington Capitals (if he missed the series)?

Clowe has some skills the Rangers can use in this series. He's tough on the puck, it's almost impossible to separate him from the puck when he's shielding it with his body and he always seems to be in the right areas of the ice (read: in front of the net). The Rangers can use those things against the Capitals. Puck possession in the offensive zone is going to be a huge factor in keeping the Capitals' offensive juggernauts away from Henrik Lundqvist. The more the Rangers can do that the better.

But aside from his skills on the ice, his leadership and poise is a good thing, too. He's been there before. Not only has he played in 68 playoff games but he's played in back-to-back deep playoff series in his career. That experience is invaluable. That experience helps steady this ship when the opposing fans are screaming their lungs out (or in Washington's case, that dumb horn guy is blasting his horn), the opposing team is pressing and you can't seem to do anything right. That's when being cool and calm under pressure is needed. That's something Clowe brings.

Will the Rangers miss him if he's out? Yes, of course they will. He's been a valuable member of the team since the moment he came to the Rangers.

But they can survive without him. Even if his absence makes things more difficult.