Will Butcher will be out for the remainder of the season for the New Jersey Devils after having surgery last week to repair ruptured ligaments in his right thumb.
The defenseman sustained the injury in the first period of a 3-0 loss at the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 18 and he has not played since. His recovery is expected to take 3-4 months.
"It's not an easy loss. We tried to heighten his role this year and give him more minutes, so it would have been good for him to get back this season in an elevated role," coach Alain Nasreddine said. "But unfortunately, it's a big injury and we're not going to have him for the rest of the season."
Butcher has 21 points (four goals, 17 assists) in 56 games this season for the Devils (26-28-12), who are 14 points behind the New York Islanders for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.
The Devils play the Blues at Prudential Center on Friday (7 p.m. ET; SNE, SNO, SNP, TVAS, MSG+, FS-MW, NHL.TV).