The Los Angeles Kings were dealt yet another significant blow to their playoff push on Saturday, but it appears Brayden Schenn won't be coming to their rescue any time soon.
Almost a week after losing forward Justin Williams to a separated shoulder, the Kings watched leading scorer Anze Kopitar succumb to a hit by Colorado Avalanche defenceman Ryan O'Byrne, leaving him sprawled on the ice with a broken ankle — an injury that will sideline him for a reported six weeks.
Hockey Night in Canada's Pierre LeBrun realizes the magnitude of the loss, but says Schenn can't become the Kings' saviour just yet.
"I think Kopitar was playing the best hockey of his career," said LeBrun. "There was talk about a dark horse Hart Trophy or Selke Trophy vote for him. It's a gigantic loss and just to go back to Schenn, even if [the Kings] do suffer another injury and suddenly have the possibility of calling him up I don't think they're sold on that idea either. That's a tough spot to put a young kid in."
The Kings are in the midst of a tight Western Conference playoff battle that had them gingerly sitting in fifth place heading into the night's action, but Schenn wouldn't be able to make the jump to the big club due to the rule book.
According to NHL guidelines, once a player has been sent down to the junior level by a NHL team, he cannot be recalled unless it is on an emergency basis. In the case of the Kings, another significant player ailment would have to happen.
"Technically they cannot [call Schenn up] right now," LeBrun said. "They need to suffer one more injury before they have an emergency call-up so they're not going to call anyone up right now."
Schenn, who tied a world junior points record in 2011 with 18 for Canada, last played a NHL game on Oct. 30, 2010 and was subsequently sent down to the Brandon Wheat Kings, making his case applicable to the rule book.
On Jan. 10 this year, Schenn, 19, was dealt to his home town Saskatoon Blades, where he is in the midst of a playoff push of his own against the Prince Albert Raiders.
He has 116 goals and 199 assists in 224 career WHL games.