Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 9/23/13
Edmonton Oilers centre Sam Gagner was in hospital Sunday with his jaw reportedly broken in two places after taking a stick to the face from Vancouver Canucks winger Zack Kassian during their pre-season game on Saturday night. Apparently Gagner’s jaw wasn’t wired shut after the incident. That would most likely mean a six to eight week recovery but he could still be out for many weeks. The Oilers will know more Monday when they will update his condition. It’s certainly more week to week than day to day. Gagner also had several teeth dislodged by the high stick that has Kassian facing a possible suspension. It may not have been intentional but it was certainly careless use of the stick. The injury leaves the Oilers in a deep dark crevice in the middle to start the season because their No. 1 centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins might not play until Nov. 1 (missing 13 October games) as the team plays it ultrasafe in the wake of shoulder surgery RNH underwent on April 23. Left-winger Taylor Hall who has been experimenting at centre in exhibition games with Nugent-Hopkins out now becomes the top dog in the middle as the first league game Oct. 1 against Winnipeg Jets draws closer. The door is wide open for every other centre on the roster and it’s the size of a garage door. Boyd Gordon the No. 3 guy could move up to second line. Farmhands Mark Arcobello and Anton Lander along with off-season signee Will Acton are the only centres left available unless Ryan Smyth — who has been playing with Hall and Ales Hemsky on a pre-season line — gets another shot there. Rather than offer up any doom and gloom quotes Hall tried to be upbeat. “This isn’t something you want to hear especially for a guy like Gags who had a big year last season and has been improving a lot” said Hall. “It’s a really tough loss ... training camp injuries are the worst because you work so hard all summer then to come in and have it wasted.” “He’s going to take a couple of weeks off and eat through a straw. I feel for him.” The experiment with Hall at centre hasn’t blown up in anybody’s face. He’s been better than expected so far — he played the position for some of his junior career in Windsor but very very little in the NHL until now. “Looks like I’ll be playing more centre than I’d planned. Not everything goes to plan” he said. “We’ll just have to fill the void. It’s a cliché but what are we supposed to do? Are we going to sit and be sad about it and make it a bigger problem than it is?” said Hall. “If you’re going to be negative and worry about things that’s not going to help. You take this as a challenge. We’re in a big hole but we have guys who can fill the void.”
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