Coyotes C Derek Stepan out 4-6 weeks with knee injury
Arizona Coyotes center Derek Stepan will miss four to six weeks with a lower body injury suffered Thursday night in a win over the Vancouver Canucks, according to the Coyotes’ Dave Vest.
Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet told Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station Friday that the injury was to Stepan’s knee.
The early end of his timeline to return would give Stepan the potential to return before the end of the regular season. His team’s final game is April 6 against Winnipeg.
The Coyotes led 4-1 in the third period against the Canucks when Stepan took a hit while battling for the puck in the corner.
When he attempted to swipe at the puck following the contact, his left leg buckled and he went to the ground in pain.
Stepan did not put any weight on his left leg as he was helped off the ice.
Stepan has been a Coyotes top-six center this year. He is fourth on the team with 32 points this season (13 goals, 19 assists).
Stepan also leads all Arizona forwards by averaging 19:22 time on ice.
“We haven’t had very much luck with this knee injuries,” Tocchet said on Doug & Wolf. “With Step, he’s a big part of our team. He plays 20 minutes, he plays power play, penalty kill. He’s solidifies that center position, he shuts down the other team’s best line. Great locker room guy.”
Stepan’s injury is the latest of many significant blows suffered by Arizona as it attempts to push into playoff contention.
Defenseman Jason Demers and goaltender Antti Raanta are out indefinitely due to lower body injuries. Forward Michael Grabner (eye) remains out, and Arizona has already lost forward Nick Schmaltz (lower body) and defenseman Kyle Capobianco (lower body) for the year.
Center Christian Dvorak just made his season debut Tuesday after sitting out due to a pair of injuries.
Before the trade deadline on Feb. 25, the Coyotes dealt Jordan Weal to Montreal for fellow center Michael Chaput, who was viewed as a help for the AHL Tucson Roadrunners but could now become a depth option for the NHL team.
“It was more of a minor move, just creates some flexibility for us, allows us to get a player in Tucson, help that group out,” Coyotes GM John Chayka said via ArizonaCoyotes.com. “Obviously, with the injuries we’ve had up here, we’ve been stealing players from them. But it also gives us some depth at the NHL level in case we need it, as well.”
Chaput is not waiver exempt, so if the Coyotes call him up they will not be able to send him back to the AHL unless he clears waivers first.