Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau was scheduled to undergo surgery Wednesday to repair a fractured finger.
Gaudreau suffered the injury in Tuesday's 1-0 win over the Minnesota Wild. A timeline for his return will be provided in the coming days.
"It's his finger so it can be four (weeks), it can be six, you don't know," Flames coach Glen Gulutzan said. "For me, I'm just preparing for the worst-case scenario and that's how it goes. But we won't know anything on this injury until we hear from the doctors. It could be less, it could be more."
Gaudreau left Tuesday's game early in the third period after taking a slash to the hand.
"The NHL has tried to crack down on that stuff," Gulutzan said. "What we did last night was we addressed it with the officials, after the second period. There were a few whacks there that Johnny had to go off for. But the third whack got him. But we addressed it."
The 23-year-old native of Salem, N.J., has 11 points (5-6) in 17 games this season.
He signed a US$40.5-million, six-year contract extension with the Flames last month. Gaudreau struggled at the start of the season with two goals in his first 14 games, but had three goals in his last two games.
"That's a big piece out of our line-up and our team. I felt like Johnny was going out there and getting his game to where it needs to be so it's a tough blow," Flames captain Mark Girodano said.
Linden Vey will take Gaudreau's spot in the line-up, but will centre the third line between Matt Stajan and Alex Chiasson.
Sam Bennett will be elevated to the first line alongside Sean Monahan and Troy Brouwer.
"We're going to have to continue to play tight-checking. We're not the first team or the last that's going to lose a star player and then have to find a way to manufacture wins," Gulutzan said.
"We needed to improve, we all know that, and find an identify of a game, or the building blocks of a game that's going to let you have long-term success. When you take an offensive guy out of your line-up, you have to solidify the way you play defensively as a group."