The Edmonton Oilers will start their 2013-14 NHL campaign with a huge void to fill up front.
On Sunday, the team announced it will be without centre Sam Gagner indefinitely after he suffered a broken jaw Saturday night on a high stick from Vancouver Canucks forward Zack Kassian. The incident occurred at 18:33 of the second period of the Oilers' 5-2 win.
Gagner, 24, scored 14 goals and 24 assists in the lockout-shortened 48-game regular-season last year. The London, Ont., native has 91 goals and 167 assists in 414 career contests, all with Edmonton. He was originally drafted sixth overall by the Oilers in the first round in 2007.
The loss is a significant blow to a club hoping to make strides in the upcoming season with a new coach (Dallas Eakins), and a young core locked up for the long term. The team finished 12th in the West last season and missed out on the playoffs — they haven't qualified for the post-season since 2006.
Edmonton is already without the likes of centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who is expected to be out a month while he rehabs his shoulder after having off-season surgery.
The Oilers open up their season by hosting the Winnipeg Jets Oct. 1 on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada.