After suffering an ACL injury in an exhibition game last September, abrasive winger Raffi Torres played just five games for the Sharks during the 2013-14 regular season. He scored five points, including three goals, in those five games then added three more points in seven playoff games. In all, Torres has scored at a 23-goal pace during his brief Sharks career despite receiving limited minutes and virtually no power play time. As ridiculous as it might sound to those who know him only as a cheap-shot artist (which, granted, isn't an unfair description of his game), Torres is a legitimately important piece of the Sharks' forward lineup.
And he'll spend a significant chunk of yet another season on the shelf.
"Raffi has started a rehabilitation phase, but will need to repeat the surgical procedure to repair the ACL damage suffered on Sept. 20, 2013," general manager Doug Wilson said in a press release today. "We expect Raffi to return to the team during the 2014-15 season but no official timeline for his return is being set at this time."
According to the release, Torres suffered an infection in the previously repaired knee. It's hard to predict when he will be available but it did take him until late February to return from the initial surgical procedure last season and, even then, he was only able to play in five games before missing the rest of the regular campaign.
In the meantime, the Sharks are left with one of the worst bottom-six forward groups in the Western Conference. With Brent Burns moving back to defense, the team was already short a top-nine forward. Now they're short two. Assuming Tomas Hertl and Joe Pavelski flank Joe Thornton on the team's top line, the Sharks' bottom six projects to include Tommy Wingels, James Sheppard, Tyler Kennedy, Andrew Desjardins, Adam Burish and Mike Brown with John Scott waiting in the wings as a 13th forward. Wingels is a good player and perhaps Kennedy can have a bounce-back season (although he hasn't been useful in over two years). The rest, especially if Sheppard is forced to play center? Yikes.
We'll have more on potential Torres replacements, both within and outside the organization, tomorrow.