Erie Otters forward Connor McDavid fractured the fifth metacarpal bone in his right hand during a game Tuesday against the Mississauga Steelheads, the Otters announced Wednesday.
McDavid does not need surgery and is expected to be sidelined 5-6 weeks.
A likely top-two pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, McDavid scored a point in all but one game for Erie this season and has 16 goals and 51 points in 18 games.
"It's obviously terrible news for our team," Otters forward Dylan Strome said Wednesday on NHL Live. "He's our heart and soul. He's our leader, he's our best player.
"It's tough, but at the same time injuries happen to everybody and happen all the time. As a team we just [have to] try and block it out the best we can. Obviously it's a huge loss, but at the same time we really [have to] turn our focus on. We're just [going to] try and focus as much as we can on not about the injury and just trying to play our game."
McDavid injured his pinky finger in a fight against Mississauga forward Bryson Cianfrone 13:50 into the second period.
"Honestly it wasn't a chippy game," Strome said. "There was no anger going on. He wasn't mad at all. It was just kind of a spur of the moment thing. I think the guy hit him behind the net and they were jabbing at each other. All of a sudden the gloves are flying off. In any circumstance, someone would probably have jumped in there and helped him out. That's what teammates are for, and you [have to] protect your best player.
"Everyone was kind of hoping on the bench that obviously something like this didn't happen, but at the end of the day it did happen. It's an unfortunate circumstance, but that's the game of hockey, and there's nothing really we can do about it but just kind of move on."
The injury could keep McDavid from playing for Canada at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship, to be held in Toronto and Montreal. Canada will hold its camp Dec. 11-15 and must submit its roster by Dec. 25. It plays its first game Dec. 26 against Slovakia.
McDavid, who turns 18 on Jan. 13, has 69 goals and 216 points in 137 OHL games.