Vancouver Giants general manager Barclay Parneta said Wednesday that star forward Samuel Honzek will be sidelined for six to eight weeks with a lower body injury after getting hurt in a preseason game with the Calgary Flames on Oct. 4.
Honzek, 18, will continue to do his rehab with Flames staff in Calgary, according to Parneta. Honzek was a first-round pick, No. 16 overall, by the Flames in this summer’s NHL Draft.
A Flames spokesperson had listed Honzek as sidelined day-to-day last Thursday. Parneta declined to elaborate on the injury, which took place in an exhibition game against the Edmonton Oilers. The Flames initially reassigned Honzek to the Giants the following day.
The timeline puts Honzek on course to be ready to play for the Slovaks at the world junior tournament, which runs Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Gothenburg, Sweden. Honzek was part of the Slovak team last year and, oddly enough, was hurt at the tournament, getting the back of his leg stepped on by an opponent. He wound up missing 20 Vancouver games.
Honzek finished with 23 goals, 56 points and a plus-17 rating in 43 regular season games with the Giants last season, his first in the WHL. He had one goal and four points in their first-round loss to the Kamloops Blazers.
In other Giants injury news, defenceman Damian Palmieri continues to be sidelined after taking a knee-on-knee hit from Portland Winterhawks forward Josh Davies in an Oct. 7 game. Davies only received a kneeing minor. The Giants have no timeline on his possible return.
Right winger Matthew Edwards (shoulder) is now a full participant at practice, but is still at least a week from playing, according to Parneta. Goaltender Matthew Hutchison (illness) is expected to see duty this weekend.
SOURDIF MAKES THE BIG LEAGUES
Former Giants captain Justin Sourdif said after a training session with a host of other pros at Planet Ice Delta back in August that his goal for this season was to make his NHL debut with the Florida Panthers and that “getting even a few games there would help with my confidence.”
The forward is well on his way to all that just a handful of days into the season.
Sourdif, a 21-year-old from Surrey who was a 2020 third-round pick by Florida, saw action in his first-ever NHL regular season game on Monday, recording three hits and one shot in 10 minutes of ice time in a 4-3 road win over the New Jersey Devils.
Florida is home to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday and then hosts the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday.
The website QuantHockey lists 407 B.C. natives playing NHL games in the league’s history.
Sourdif was officially the final cut out of training camp by the Panthers this year, but he stayed in town rather than reporting to their AHL Charlotte Checkers farm team. The Panthers were waiting to be permitted to move defenceman Aaron Ekblad to long-term injured reserve and the salary-cap ramifications that went with him. They activated Sourdif on the big-team roster at the same time they made the Ekblad transfer.
Sourdif had an injury-filled first pro season last year with Charlotte, including breaking his ankle. He finished with seven goals and 24 points in 48 regular season games.
Sourdif still managed to given it a positive spin when he talked about it back in August. He was skating with a group that then included former Giants Milan Lucic, Brendan Gallagher and Lance Bouma, among others.
“You’re going to get hurt in pro hockey. To learn how to deal with that at my age is only going to help me in the long run,” Sourdif said.
The Giants picked Sourdif in the first round, No. 3 overall, in the 2017 WHL Draft and he totalled 69 goals and 166 points in 171 regular season games with Vancouver over four-plus years. He was named captain for the 2021-22 season, and was dealt at the trade deadline during that campaign to an Edmonton Oil Kings team that was making a run at a Memorial Cup national championship appearance. Sourdif did help Edmonton to the tournament, where they finished fourth.
In the trade, Vancouver received forward Jacob Boucher and two first-round draft picks.
BENSON, MINTEN MAKING THE GRADE EARLY WITH NHL TEAMS
Sourdif has company when it comes to youngsters from B.C. playing their first NHL games this season.
Chilliwack’s Zach Benson, 18, and North Vancouver’s Fraser Minten, 19, could be with the WHL’s Wenatchee Wild and Kamloops Blazers, respectively, but they have stuck instead with the Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs.
Benson has two assists, a plus-two rating and four shots on goals through the Sabres’ first three games. The winger is averaging 14:54 of ice time.
In Toronto’s first three games, Minten has no points, an even rating and a two shots on goal. The centre is averaging 12:19.
Benson and Minten can play nine games with their NHL teams until the first season of their three-year entry-level deals is fully activated. They can be sent back to their junior teams after that fact, but their contract clocks remain underway.