Mathias Samuelsson will be out for several weeks, but Henry Jukiharjo is making progress


Sabers are not giving specific timetables on the return of injured defenders Matthias Samuelsson and Henry Jukiharjo, but general manager Kevin Adams gave more clarity on what to expect going forward on Thursday morning.

Samuelson sustained a knee injury on Saturday in Vancouver while Jukiharjo hit a headshot in the face on Thursday in Edmonton. It does not require surgery, Adams said. However, Samuelsson will be out of the squad for several weeks. Jokiharju progresses though he is still listed from week to week.

Adams admitted his first look at Samuelsson’s play, which came when trying to score in a corner, left him fearful of injury at the end of the season. But an MRI done in Buffalo showed no major damage.

“It’s going to be a few weeks but it’s a lot better than we originally thought,” Adams said. “…Your first thought is the worst-case scenario, because part of it is that he’s just a tough kid and I saw how much pain he was in. Talking to him then, that shocked him a little bit: ‘He was in so much pain.’” The MRI was both good and bad news. We don’t want him out for a few weeks but he’s much better than the alternative.”

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The Sabers discovered that Jokiharju suffered a small facial fracture under his nose after taking a foul shot from Kyle Okposo early in the game in Calgary. But Adams said he will likely skate again sometime next week.

“That doesn’t change his progress or anything excessively, and it was a better day today,” GM said. “But I think he’s kind of a week to week. The good news about him is that he’s feeling a lot better. He’s making progress.”

With the injuries, Rasmus Dahlin skated with Ilya Lyubushkin as the top pair during Tuesday’s loss in Seattle while Owen Power was with Jacob Bryson and Lawrence Bellot was with Casey Fitzgerald. The entire team struggled with turnovers during the 5-1 loss to Kraken and it was clear that the defensive duos were missing out on rhythm due to the two key absences.

“Get pairs together and make players comfortable playing within our system or as D partners,” coach Don Granato said Thursday morning of his direct goal. “Because so much of what you do and so much of what we do, you play along as a pair. And that takes time.”

“They are such a big part of the team and they bring the team a lot of cool in their game,” Dahlin said after a morning ski. “We are definitely missing them. It will be a challenge and we have to face it and make the most of it.”

With Rochester’s Kale Clague called up and Americans losing both Chase Priskie and Peter Tischke in defense due to week-to-week injuries, the blueline’s organizational depth is severely challenged. The Americas have re-signed veteran Brandon Davidson to a trial contract and Adams said Cypress are looking for more help in defense, including a potential addition at the NHL level.

“For the past two days, we’ve looked at all the options and scenarios in the league,” Adams said. “What we’re not going to do is make a big reaction type move or an emotional move. But if we think something makes sense that we can provide more depth in the organization, not where we’re giving away assets, maybe that’s something we’re looking to do” .

Peyton Crips returned to the Buffalo squad on Thursday after missing two games and Rasmus Asplund took his place as a health scratch. With 14 strikers in good health, Granato said his decisions about his lineup would not be punitive, but rather would be just rotations so that a striker wouldn’t sit out for too long. Asplund had three assists and a plus-6 rating in his first six matches.

“Everyone wants to make drama and ‘Oh my gosh, a health scratch,’” Granato said. “We have 23 players and 82 games. And our attackers are healthy now, our defense is not. And because our attackers are healthy, we’ll take a rotation. It wouldn’t be like, ‘You’re a healthy scratcher and you’re not good enough or you screwed up the last game. We’re healthy and someone has to sit down.’

Adams was just as impressed as any NHL fan or observer at Dahlen’s quick start to the season, which included the NHL’s #1 Superstar award last week after setting the league record for a defensive man by scoring in his first five games of the season.

Watching him rise was really exciting,” Adams said. “It’s not just what’s being talked about, which is production and minutes, but his details, his willingness to play 200 feet, his competitiveness, his physicality. Those are all things taking strides, even from where he was at the end last year. It’s really exciting. He’s a great feather in the field. His hat is to have the way the season started making history there, and then to have the first star. It’s really nice to see him progress.”

The game could have featured three of the last five NHL top picks, but Montreal winger Juraj Slavkowski, who was taken by the Habs in July at home at Bale Center, missed his third straight game with an upper body injury. .

Slavkowski was injured in the October 20 victory over Arizona, the game in which he scored his first goal in the National Hockey League. It’s his only point in five games so far. Of course, Cypress took the other two places in the game at Dahlin (2018) and Power (2021).


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