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Pittsburgh Penguins injury news: The biggest 5'7" hole - Conor Sheary injured

The Penguins diminutive player will leave probably an insurmountable hole being out for the next 4-6 weeks with an upper body injury

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Another one hits the injured reserve for the Pittsburgh Penguins, as they announced today that forward Conor Sheary is out the next 4-6 weeks.

The loss will be felt in a big way, Sheary was in the midst of a breakout season, with 17 goals and 18 assists in 42 games so far this season. That's enough for 3rd on the highest scoring team in the league in goals, and 5th in points.

Sheary was especially on fire in January scoring 13 points (8g+5a) in 11 games and was named the First Star of the Week by the NHL for W/E 1/23/17.

Sheary found success playing on the left wing of Sidney Crosby and the two have grown a visible and productive chemistry since being united last spring in the playoffs.

During last night's game against the Predators, Sheary did fall as he was defended trying to bring the puck over the blueline. He stayed down for a second and had as obvious grimace as he skated and got to the bench seeming to favor his elbow/arm area, but did not miss any meaningful time in the game last night. Despite finishing the contest, he obviously didn't escape major injury.

There's never a good time to lose a first line winger, but now isn't especially a rosy time either- the NHL trade deadline is on March 1st and presumably Sheary's out until at least that point. As we wrote back in December, the team had a left wing problem even when they had Sheary, now that he's gone the position looks all the lesser - though Chris Kunitz has been more impactful since recently being shifted into a 4th line role and away from a Crosby or Evgeni Malkin line where he wasn't able to score much.

It will be interesting how the Penguins handle the temporary loss of Sheary. Do they mega-promote Kunitz (who has only played 12 minutes all season with Sid?) Do they give a chance for Jake Guentzel, who's praised mental grasp of the game might make him an intriguing experiment with Crosby? Or do they go a little off the board and try Carl Hagelin who can at least replace the speed aspect of Sheary, if not the hands?

There's a lot of choices, but no great one for Mike Sullivan and Jim Rutherford to manage and monitor in their lineup now. Conor Sheary may only stand about 5'7" tall, but his absence over the next month-plus will leave a lasting and very large hole on the team.