NBC Sports analyst Pierre McGuire joined NHL Live to discuss the injuries sustained by New York Rangers center Derek Stepan, Carolina Hurricanes center Jordan Staal and Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk.
Stepan sustained a non-displaced fractured fibula during an on-ice workout Wednesday and will miss 4-6 weeks. Though the Rangers have questions at the center position, McGuire endorsed Boston College product Kevin Hayes as one player who could step up.
"He's a tremendous talent," McGuire said. "He's got major, major upside, which is a positive thing for their group."
Staal broke a bone in his right leg in a preseason game at the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday when he was hit by defenseman Josh Gorges. Datsyuk has a second-degree separation of his right shoulder sustained Tuesday after a check into the glass by Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi and will be out 4-5 weeks.
"That's a devastating blow with Jordan Staal, especially if he has to miss any regular-season games." McGuire said. "And I think Detroit is probably grateful that Pavel Datsyuk's only going to miss [4-5] weeks, which is probably a little bit better than what they were expecting after [Tuesday] night."
McGuire also believes the Los Angeles Kings have a legitimate chance of repeating as Stanley Cup champions, although the loaded Western Conference will present a daunting challenge.
"The problem you have in the Western Conference is Chicago and L.A. probably have to play one another at some point, so somebody is going to win and somebody is going to lose. They you have the improved Dallas Stars, who I think are going to cause a lot of problems for people in the Western Conference. You've got an Anaheim team that's added some key players plus a brilliant young goalie in [John Gibson], and Ryan Kesler, obviously.
"The other thing is that the St. Louis Blues, I think, are an anxious team and they're a motivated team, and they've experienced a lot of playoff disappointment. And quite frankly, I think the Vancouver Canucks will be one of the most improved teams in the whole National Hockey League."