Already minus three regular forwards, the Carolina Hurricanes could be without 25-goal man Ray Whitney until the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The five-foot-10, 180-pounder, second on the team with 59 points, will have ankle surgery on Saturday.
Whitney, 35, travelled with the team for a two-game road trip, which wrapped up in Buffalo on Friday night.
He has missed six games with a sore ankle, the result of an infection from earlier this season. The surgery is required to remove a damaged bursa sac, the team said.
The Southeast Division-leading Hurricanes are already missing captain Rod Brind'Amour, out indefinitely following reconstructive knee surgery last month, along with Justin Williams (torn knee ligaments) and Chad LaRose (broken leg).
Carolina has nine games remaining after Friday and will finish the regular season at home against Florida on April 4.
The Hurricanes entered Friday's action with a 38-29-5 record for 81 points, seven more than second-place Washington in the Southeast.