Koekkoek Shut Down Again After Dislocating Shoulder
Lightning star defensive prospect Slater Koekkoek will undergo shoulder surgery and miss the remainder of his junior team's season, the Windsor Spitfires announced today.
Tampa Bay General Manager Steve Yzerman confirmed the diagnosis and told Tampa media that he'd know more about the situation on Monday.
Koekkoek, who has had two surgeries on his left shoulder, dislocated his right shoulder Thursday night in a fight against Saginaw's Jeremiah Addison. The captain of the Spitfires was defending a teammate and jumped in front of his alternate captain to take on Addison. The two wrestled to the ice rather innocently, though Koekkoek appeared to twist as he went down.
"After consulting with team doctor Roy Diklich, Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman, and their team doctors, all parties have agreed that the best course of action right now is for him to have surgery," Windsor GM Warren Rychel said in a team press release.
The Lightning's top pick - 10th overall - in the 2011 draft, Koekkoek was enjoying a phenomenal year with Windsor, accumulating 53 points (15 goals) in 62 games, with a plus-44 rating. He was fifth in the league in plus/minus as of Friday afternoon. His 53 points were good enough for third among OHL defensemen, and Koekkoek was being mentioned in MVP and top-defenseman talks. His coach, former NHLer Bob Boughner, has played the 6-2 defenseman over 35 minutes a night.
Koekkoek had an outside chance at making the Lightning next fall, but when he's ready to return will likely do so with AHL Syracuse now that he's old enough to turn pro. He has already signed a contract with the Lightning.
Lightning doctors said Koekkoek's second surgery on his left shoulder was a longterm fix and all indications were it held up just fine all season. If the same can be done to the right shoulder, there's optimism Koekkoek can fulfill his projected role as a top-2 NHL defenseman in the future.