Lightning prospect J.T. Brown will be out an indefinite amount of time after suffering a broken collarbone.
Brown, playing for Tampa Bay's minor league affiliate in Syracuse, N.Y., will require surgery to repair the fracture, which occurred during the first period Friday in Syracuse's 4-2 victory against Norfolk. Brown took a hit from Admirals' defenseman Mat Clark and did not return to the game.
While the injury is not expected to be season-ending, it likely will prevent Brown from an opportunity to compete for a spot with the Lightning should the NHL lockout be resolved in time to play a shortened season.
Syracuse general manager Julien BriseBois, who also serves as Lightning assistant GM, confirmed via email that surgery will be required and there is no timetable established at this point for when Brown would be expected to return. The logistics of the surgery were still being worked out as of Saturday afternoon.
"It's really unfortunate,'' Syracuse head coach Jon Cooper said. "On a positive note, it is a bone break and should heal in time for a playoff run.''
Signed as a free agent out of the University of Minnesota-Duluth in March, Brown appeared in the final five games of the season for Tampa Bay last season registering an assist while playing in a top two-line role. He also went on to play for Team USA at the World Championships picking up a goal and two points in six games.
The 22-year-old was expected to compete for a role with the Lightning this season but has been playing in the American Hockey League this season due to the NHL lockout.
With Syracuse this season Brown has six goals and 17 points in 26 games. His loss will be a blow to the Crunch.
"He was playing well, adapting to our system and a much needed right-handed shot on one of our power play units,'' Cooper said. "We are going to miss his speed and tenacity.''