Mikhail Sergachev undergoes surgery on his leg, indefinitely: what it means for the Thunderbolt

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev underwent surgery to stabilize the tibia and fibula in his left leg on Thursday and will return home in the coming days to begin rehabilitation immediately. The team announced.

No timetable was given for his return.

Sergeychev was stretched off the ice at Madison Square Garden during Wednesday's 3-1 loss to the Rangers after taking a reverse hit from Alexis Lafreniere and bending his left leg awkwardly under his body as he fell to the ice.

It came on the night Sergachev returned to Tampa's lineup after missing seven weeks with another undisclosed lower-body injury. The 25-year-old shared an emotional message on his Instagram page after the game and accompanied it with a photo of himself burying his face in a towel as he was taken off the ice.

“Dude, why me? Why now?” he wrote. “After missing all the games, coming back and getting injured again, I feel unfair, it's a terrible feeling. I try to stay calm and positive, but it's impossible. After doing everything right I get this. I believe the universe is unpredictable, it has its own plans.” But, man of the universe, I know that I will come back stronger and I know that I will play better than before, but it is difficult now, and it will be difficult tomorrow.”

While Sergeev's season was limited to just 34 games — he scored two goals and 19 points — he was an important part of the Lightning's lineup. Only Victor Hedman (24:35) has played more minutes per game for the team this year compared to 22:33.

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What's next for Lightning?

In the short term, they will continue as they have been throughout January, with Darren Rradish taking on a larger role alongside Hedman in the top pairing. The Lightning have patched things together this season with a rotating group of deep defensemen, including Emil Martinsen-Lilleberg — a Norwegian-born, SHL-drafted free agent signed last summer who has made a notable impact of late.

However, looking at the March 8 trade deadline, watch for Lightning general manager Julien Brisebois to strike in his usual fashion.

He was already checking out available defenders around the league before Sergachev's injury. He will now likely have an additional $8.5 million in long-term injured reserve space to play with while looking for upgrades, depending on how quickly Sergeychev returns to fitness.

If it is determined that Sergachev will not return before the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs — and the Lightning expect to get clarity on his rehab status before March 8 — that would leave Tampa free to use all of the LTIR room created with Sergachev's salary being moved.

BriseBois earned a reputation as a smart deadline player after giving up two first-round picks to acquire Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow and then watching them make up two-thirds of the highly effective third line that helped propel Tampa to a Stanley Cup win in 2020. and 2021.

He also gave up several first-rounders to acquire Brandon Hagel while also bringing in Nick Ball at the 2022 deadline and surrendering five picks to acquire Tanner Geno last year.

While the Lightning are short on available capital — BriseBois doesn't have their first-, second- and fourth-round picks this year, as well as a 2025 first-rounder — they hold a wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference and will want to remain aggressive with a strong core and captain Stephen Stamkos is in the final year of his contract.

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“As a general manager, you're looking for opportunities to take advantage of and threats to mitigate. This is a 365-day-a-year endeavor,” BriseBois told reporters last month. “The difference is that by the trade deadline, there are more opportunities available because you end up It's up to more teams providing players. But we're always looking for opportunities to improve our chances of success, and this trade deadline is no different.

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(Photo: Sarah Steer/Getty Images)

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