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Lightning captain Stamkos out 1-3 months

Tampa Bay center needs surgery for blood clot; Drouin recall being considered

by Corey Long / Correspondent

TAMPA -- Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos will have surgery to remove a blood clot near his right collarbone and will be sidelined 1-3 months.

"Obviously, this situation is extremely disappointing because I wanted to help my team clinch a playoff spot and prepare for the start of the postseason," Stamkos said in a statement Saturday. "During my recovery, I will do all I can to help my teammates, and I hope to rejoin them soon in the Stanley Cup Playoffs."

Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said the condition, a type of vascular thoracic outlet syndrome called effort thrombosis, is the same ailment Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy had during the summer that caused him to miss the early part of the season.

"After Thursday's game, [Stamkos] went to see the doctor; he had discomfort in his arm, some swelling and tingling in his fingers," Yzerman said after Stamkos did not play in a 3-1 win against the New Jersey Devils.

"[Friday] we had him assessed by doctors locally. He will have a procedure done Monday to alleviate the problem and he'll remain on medicine to aid in the breaking down of the blood clot. We expect Steven to make a full recovery from this."

Video: Steve Yzerman on Stamkos injury

Stamkos will miss at least the start of Tampa Bay's attempt to repeat as a Stanley Cup finalist (the playoffs begin April 13). He leads the Lightning with 36 goals and 64 points, and has 312 goals and 562 points in his eight NHL seasons.

Yzerman said he does not expect the surgery will have any long-term effects on Stamkos' playing career. Yzerman said he could not confirm if the recovery time is closer to one month or three months, and said a more exact timetable will be available in a couple of weeks.

Stamkos is in the final year of a five-year, $37.5 million contract and can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Yzerman said he remains determined to work out a deal that will keep Stamkos with Tampa Bay.

"Our hope, No. 1, is that he comes back to play this year," Yzerman said. "And we want him to remain with the Lightning and we're hoping at the right time we can make that happen."

Yzerman said he was not ready to make a roster move, but said recalling forward Jonathan Drouin is "something we will consider." Drouin, the No. 3 pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, has been playing for Syracuse of the American Hockey League since his return from a Lightning suspension on March 7. He has nine goals in 10 games, and was scratched from one game for missing a meeting.

"[Drouin] has worked extremely (hard), played very well, you see the stat sheet and the goals and all that," Yzerman said. "But overall, his attitude, his work ethic … we're very pleased with him right now. His effort has been outstanding."

Video: NHL Tonight: Steven Stamkos segment

Tampa Bay will enter the Stanley Cup Playoffs also without defenseman Anton Stralman, who is out indefinitely recovering from a non-displaced fracture of the left fibula sustained March 25. Yzerman said doctors will need a couple of weeks to see how Stralman's fracture is healing before they can provide a more accurate timeline.

"Guys will have to step up, especially in the absence of Stralman and now Steven Stamkos," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "Those are two very big pieces to the puzzle. Those guys are irreplaceable."

Stamkos had not missed a game since March 6, 2014, playing 209 consecutive including playoffs. He missed 45 games with a broken leg during the 2013-14 season.

Tampa Bay, which has not clinched a playoff berth, is in second place in the Atlantic Division, two points behind the Florida Panthers. The Lightning have four games remaining, with the regular season ending April 9.

"Every team is dealing with something and that's part of what makes it difficult to win championships," Yzerman said. "… For us it's an opportunity for other players and something we're going to have to rally around and do our best to survive. [First] to make the playoffs and then to survive until we start getting guys back."

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