According to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston, Leafs prospect and Marlies defenseman Scott Harrington has been shut down for the remainder of the season with an upper-body injury.
Harrington had what can be categorized only as a decent season. He was acquired on July 1st as part of the deal that sent Phil Kessel to the Pittsburgh Penguins, with many expecting that he could contribute to the Leafs’ lineup immediately after spending a short stint (10 games) in the NHL the previous year.
He fulfilled that expectation by playing his first 15 games of the season for the Leafs, notching 1 assist and 9 shots on goal while showing some promise as a shutdown blueliner. In late November he was sent down to the Marlies so that he could get additional ice-time, and he did that, playing in the top-four of the AHL’s top-seeded team. He had 3 points and 20 shots on goal through 17 games with the team before leaving the lineup on January 3rd with an upper-body injury. He hasn’t played a game for the team since, and it appears he won’t get the opportunity to do so again until next October, unless of course he’s able to stick around with the big club next year.
For the Marlies it’s an unfortunate loss, but not one that they can’t overcome. No matter whose missed time for them this season – whether it’s Harrington, Nylander, Brown, Kapanen, Sparks – they’ve always been able to overcome that loss and fill the shoes with somebody else. Their mixture of top-end talent and depth at every position, not to mention some fantastic coaching rom Sheldon Keefe and his staff, has the Marlies firmly in place to contend for the Calder Cup, even with Harrington’s absence.
For Harrington himself, it’s obviously too bad. Some might be disappointed with his season both at the AHL and NHL levels this year, but those who know his game well enough know that he’s never been expected to be more than a complimentary player at best. I still think he has a good enough skillset to be a bottom-pairing or spare defenseman in the NHL, and I still think he’ll reach that potential. Harrington was never the most, or even the second-most important piece coming back in the Phil Kessel trade, and this season helped prove that. Hopefully he can come back next season healthy and ready to contribute to the organization. Whether that’s in the NHL or the AHL is what remains to be seen.