A couple games ago, Pittsburgh Penguins star forward Patric Hornqvist suffered a painful injury that saw him miss the next game against the New Jersey Devils.
Here's the play in question.
It was believed at the time that it was an injury to his arm or shoulder.
Today, it was announced that he suffered a lower-body injury. On closer inspection, there's clear contact around the upper-leg area, hence the designation as a lower-body injury.
According to Mike Sullivan, he will be out for multiple weeks.
This timeline puts him out past the trade deadline, and creates a major obstacle for Jim Rutherford. Hornqvist is undoubtedly one of the most important players on the team.
"He’s one of our best players, but I’m not going to speculate," Murray said after the game against the Devils, as reported by Sam Werner of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I don’t know anything about his injury. Horny, for sure, is one of our best players."
Now Rutherford has to deal with this massive hole that his absence creates on the right wing.
Daniel Sprong can come up, but Sullivan doesn't have faith in him yet.
So what does Rutherford do?
There aren't many serviceable right wingers available on the market. The best one is David Perron, but with the Vegas Golden Knights playing as well as they are, the odds of him being shipped off at the trade deadline are slim. Toronto Maple Leafs forward Nikita Soshnikov is available, but he's nowhere near good enough to fill in for Hornqvist.
Thomas Vanek doesn't fit the profile of a Sullivan player, but he produces, and makes the players around him better in deceptive ways. He could be a low-cost acquisition, albeit not the ideal player for the head coach.
Mats Zuccarello could be had at the right price from the New York Rangers, but given the divisional rivalry, it will be a tough trade to execute. Still, if he's available, he could be a great option.
Michael Grabner as well.
Let's see what happens. Should Rutherford stay put and hope the injury doesn't go on too long? Or should he swing for the fences?