Last season, Washington Capitals defenseman Jack Hillen suffered a left shoulder injury in the team's season opener when then-Tampa Bay Lightning center Vincent Lecavalier crunched him into the end boards, an injury that ultimately cost him 25 games.
Hillen made it through this season's opener unscathed, but suffered a gruesome right leg injury during Washington's 5-4 shootout victory over the Calgary Flames Thursday. Hillen awkwardly absorbed a check from Flames forward Lance Bouma along the boards and crumpled to the ice, needing assistance to the locker room.
Hillen did not return to the game and was taken to a local hospital, according to coach Adam Oates.
"He's going to be out for a bit," he said, "but I don't want to speculate."
Considering Oates' preference for placing players on their strong sides, the Capitals have a myriad of left-handed defensemen within their system to replace Hillen. Dmitry Orlov, with 65 regular-season games to his credit, is the most NHL-tested, while prospects Cameron Schilling, Nate Schmidt and MIchal Cajkovsky also await in AHL Hershey.
Perhaps the most intriguing option is the recently-acquired Alexander Urbom, a 6'4", 215-pound Swede claimed off waivers from the New Jersey Devils Thursday. Oates is familiar with Urbom from his time as a Devils assistant coach, which played a role in his arrival in Washington.
“He’s a big kid, skates very well," Oates said. "At the time he was very raw, but I don’t really know how much he’s advanced since then. I think we’ve got to wait and see honestly, give him a chance to get acclimated and see. I know he’s played a lot of the same similar stuff that we’ve played."
Urbom will practice with the Capitals Friday and join them on their road trip to Dallas for Saturday's game against the Stars.
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