Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
The Dallas Stars top-six forward group took another hit today when it was reported that Ray Whitney will miss four to six weeks with a broken foot bone.
It was reported earlier today that Dallas Stars forward Ray Whitney was going on injured reserve with a foot problem that he'd been battling since the second game of the season. Now comes news that it's more serious than previously thought.
From the Stars and Ray Whitney today: Stars LW Ray Whitney has a broken bone in his foot and will be out 4-6 weeks.— Mike Heika (@MikeHeika) February 2, 2013
With only 12 weeks left to go, Whitney could miss up to half of the Stars' remaining games.
Whitney leads the team in scoring with six points through eight contests, and has a +2 rating on the year. As Brandon discussed earlier today, the question now becomes how the Stars best cope with another top forward out of their lineup.
The assumption is that Reilly Smith will be plugged into the top grouping somewhere, possible on Cody Eakin's left along with Michael Ryder. When Derek Roy returns (the team hopes on Monday), what then?
Dallas was poised to make a tough decision on what to do with Cody Eakin upon Roy's return. With five assists since being scaled up the lineup, he's proven that he deserves ample minutes and can handle pressure situations. Was that going to force Gulutzan to make a tough decision where the third line is concerned?
We may not find out now for 4-6 weeks.
That scenario may have forced a more balanced lineup throughout, but with Whitney's extended absence it may be Cody Eakin that benefits the most. Could he play a top-six wing, with Roy and Benn manning the center positions?
Brenden Morrow has some experience playing left wing in a top-six grouping as well, before anyone discounts that as a possibility.
Update: Mike Heika confirms my suspicion on that via Twitter...
At the risk of breaking Twitter, I'm hearing Brenden Morrow could be moved into the top six tonight and not R. Smith.tinyurl.com/a33yxag— Mike Heika (@MikeHeika) February 2, 2013
What say you?