Michael Sauer 'a huge question mark'

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The New York Rangers will head into the offseason unable to count on defenseman Michael Sauer returning from a concussion in time to start next season, coach John Tortorella revealed during the team's breakup day Monday.

"It's a huge question mark," Tortorella said of Sauer's status. "I just saw him for the first time in months and he's certainly not where he needs to be to start working out."

When asked if he can plan definitively on having Sauer back next season while the organization takes the summer to evaluate and address its needs, Tortorella responded: "Nope. No. I'll be honest with you, no I can't."

The 24-year-old Sauer did not play again after suffering the head injury Dec. 5 on a hit from Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf.

Although he resumed skating with the Rangers before the All-Star break in January, the St. Cloud, Minn., native suffered a setback that prompted the team to shut him down for the remainder of the season.

Sauer was at the Rangers' practice facility for end-of-the season interviews and exit physicals, but he was not made available to the media.

The former second-round pick was a key defensive player last season, when he played with Ryan McDonagh on the Rangers' second pairing and recorded three goals and 12 assists in 76 games.