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Steven Stamkos has rib removed in blood clot surgery

Medication may require Tampa Bay Lightning sniper Steven Stamkos to miss three months after his blood clot surgery.

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Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos underwent successful surgery on Monday to correct a blood clot issue.

“Everything went as expected for Steven today,” Dr. Karl Illig, Director of Vascular Surgery at the University of South Florida, said after performing the procedure which reportedly involved the removal of one of Stamkos's ribs.

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Now comes the hard part: The wait.

Illig said Stamkos will be re-evaluated in about two weeks time, at which point the team's medical staff will have a better idea of when the sniper might be able to return to action.

There's always the chance of good news, but even the most optimistic projection has him missing at least a month ...nand that might be too late for a Tampa Bay team that's already playing without top-pairing defenseman Anton Stralman.

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“Normal recovery for range of motion and exercise would be about one month from just the surgery alone,” Dr. Thomas Forbes, a vascular surgeon at Toronto’s Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, told TSN. “Doctors would then recommend some period of time on blood thinners, perhaps one month, which also complicates the timeline.”

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That's the stick in the spokes. Even if Stamkos is feeling shipshape, he wouldn't be allowed to play while on blood-thinning medication since the effect of any minor cut would be greatly amplified ... and a serious cut could be fatal. That means it could take as much as three months before he's cleared to return to the ice.

Of course, it could be less. Teammate Andrei Vasilievskiy needed just six weeks to get back to action after undergoing a similar procedure on September 3.

In both cases, it was believed that Vasilevskiy and Stamkos suffered from a one-time problem. Now that it's been addressed, it shouldn't recur, which means Stamkos will be able to continue with his career. That's good news for a player who is looking to sign a record-breaking deal as an unrestricted free agent this summer ... and for the team that's going to invest in him.