Penguins prospect Tom Kuhnhackl suffered a severe knee injury in his first game back with his junior team that will keep him out at least a month but probably more.

According to the Windsor Spitfires official website:
“So far, it is believed that Kuhnhackl suffered either a second or third degree strain of the medial collateral ligament in his right knee. The injury is the result of an awkward collision with Kitchener Rangers defenceman Jonathon Jaspers.”

Kuhnhackl is expected to meet with the Penguin’s team doctors as well as the doctors of the Windsor Spitfires to determine if surgery is necessary and what the next course of action should be.

Regardless of the severity of the injury, the German born winger figures to be out a month of more as the team will want him to take his time coming back and not risk further injury to the knee.

Taken in the 4th round in 2010 by the Penguins, Kuhnhackl quickly rose up the ranks to become one of their most promising young players. A huge season was expected out of Kuhnhackl by both the Windsor faithful and the Penguins alike.

Chicago Bear’s quarterback Jay Cutler sustained a similar injury last January during the playoffs and here are some quotes from a few orthopedic surgeons about the injury from a Chicago Tribune article

On MCL injuries in general:
“Picture a thick rope. Then think about what would happen if that rope were pulled so hard that the fibers stretched and began to tear. Now imagine that rope is inside your knee.”

On the severity of the injury:
“With an MCL, if you walk around being very careful and there’s no lineman running at you at 25 miles an hour, you’re good. But if you put the athlete on a playing field and he makes one wrong step, he’s crumbling — and then you start damaging other ligaments. The athlete could sustain a career-ending injury if you were to take that risk.”

On the different grades of MCL injuries:
“A Grade I sprain involves microscopic tearing of the ligament. With a Grade II injury, about 50 or 60 percent of tissue is torn and the ligament is elongated. In the case of a Grade III injury, all fibers are ruptured and it is totally disconnected.”

Kuhnhackl looks to be out anywhere from 1-6 months depending on whether surgery is necessary or not.

The injury occurred the day he was cut from Penguins training camp. Kuhnhackl assisted on the Spitfires first goal before leaving the game.