Top 5 early-season injuries to watch

Updated: October 25, 2010 at 10:59 am by Alexander Monaghan

#5: Peter Mueller

Mueller suffered a concussion during a pre-season game against the Los Angeles Kings.  Before that the Colorado Avalanche dubbed him their “savior” after coming over to the team and put up a healthy 20 points in only 15 games.  His hole in the lineup has made the team more reliant on their top line of Paul Stastny, Chris Stewart and TJ Galiardi– which has yet to disappoint.  However, by adding Mueller back into the mix the team could get even more out of sophomore Matt Duchene, without needing to trade a young asset.

The 22-year-old has yet to resume skating but he seems like he could be close to starting.  According to Adrian Dater of The Denver Post, the American forward has been seen around the arena:

Also: Peter Mueller has been hanging around the rink more often of late. He has not resumed skating and nobody has any idea when he might be back, but he seems to be feeling better to at least be around the team more now. Before, he wasn’t even doing that.

Mueller may have finally broke out in his third NHL season and likely sees this injury as a gigantic setback.  If healthy he can add another dynamic player to the Avs’ young core as well as a booming shot from the point.

#4:  Brian Campbell

Campbell went down with an original prognosis of 4-5 weeks back in pre-season.  Entering the third week of the season, he has made strides in his return.  According to Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times, the veteran defenseman could be closer than you think:

Defenseman Brian Campbell skated for the first time since spraining his right knee in the preseason. Campbell was ruled out for four to five weeks after hurting his knee in an exhibition game Oct. 1.

”He looked good,” Quenneville said. ”He’ll get a couple of practices with us, and we’ll get a better idea. He’s not too far away.”

In his absence the team tried rookie Nick Leddy before eventually demoting him for salary cap purposes.  Their main replacement has been additional minutes for Nick Boynton while Jassen Cullimore takes over on the bottom pairing.  In other words, the Blackhawks can really use this guy back with the team in order to become a more consistent threat from the blue line.

#3: Jordan Staal

The return of Staal should add some healthy competition to the Pittsburgh Penguins forward lines.  Currently their top six is occupied by Mark Letestu and Mike Comrie– a trend which should end briefly.  According to William DePaoli of Inside Pittsburgh Sports, Staal is on the mend and could be back soon:

Meanwhile, Staal is slowly inching back to health and barring a setback, should be on track to return to the lineup in 4-to-6 weeks.

Before his foot infection, we slotted Staal next to Evgeni Malkin.  When he returns he will most likely gun for that same position as he attempts to regain his scoring touch.  Considering the Pens are actually scoring as well, there should be much less pressure for him to produce offensively.

#2: Alexandre Burrows

What Reggie once was in the Bronx, Burrows is to the Vancouver Canucks.  In other words, he is the straw that stirs the drink.

Without their agitating forward, the team has somewhat struggled out of the gate, winning only three of their first eight games.  The main problem with the team seems to be who to put with the Sedins without Burrows and not effecting the secondary scoring while doing that.

So far the Canucks have used Mason Raymond, Mikael Samuelsson and even Jeff Tambellini to mixed results.  The good news is he is not far from returning says Brad Ziemer of The Vancouver Sun:

Burrows, recovering from shoulder surgery, has been cleared for contact and hopes to return to the lineup Nov. 2 in Edmonton.

Things should be looking up for the animated winger once he returns.  Ryan Kesler will have less pressure on him to produce secondary scoring with new linemates while the Sedins will have extra space on the ice.  In other words, the ripple down effect of this injury has been huge and the team needs him back soon.

#1: Andrei Markov

It seems like the return of Andrei Markov is right on track, after originally cutting his recovery time. The often-injured defenseman could return to the lineup as soon as next week if this pregame news from All Habs, via Twitter is any indication:

Ryan O’Byrne and Dustin Boyd are healthy scratches for the #Habs. Andrei Markov expected back next week. #gohabsgo

Despite his inability to stay healthy, Markov has been an excellent point producer over the past few seasons.  Last year he put up 34 points in only 45 games, which projects for 62 on the season.  The previous two seasons were 58 and 64 point campaigns, respectively.  In short, Markov can produce and might be available at a lower price to an owner who autodrafted or is just plain frustrated by him.  Needless to say he is the most intriguing injury in this young season.

We hope you enjoyed our segment on the latest injury updates as much as we enjoyed writing it.  Keep in mind it is a top five list and there are glaring omissions such as Mark Streit, Kyle Okposo and Marc Savard. Regardless, make sure to take all of the advice in and continue to check our renowned starting goalies section, which is updated all day until game time.

Alex Burrows, Andrei Markov, Brian Campbell, Jordan Staal, Peter Mueller