It’s been a long wait for Jack Eichel. He finally returned to action Wednesday night after almost a years’ absence, and with a new team. Wednesday saw the return of a player from suspension and a few more return from COVID protocol. Let’s dig into the latest roster and injury news from around the Western Conference.
Sam Steel and Josh Mahura came out of the Ducks’ lineup Wednesday in favor of Sam Carrick and Greg Pateryn. Carrick missed the last game due to a personal matter, and Max Comtois was a healthy scratch for the second game in a row.
- G Arvid Soderblom recalled from Rockford (AHL)
- D Alec Regula recalled from Rockford (AHL)
- G Cale Morris assigned to Rockford (AHL)
- F Reese Johnson (IR – upper-body) practiced in a non-contact jersey
- F Tyler Johnson (IR – neck) was a full participant at practice
- F Jonathan Toews (concussion) did not practice
- D Riley Stillman (IR – shoulder) has started skating
- G Kevin Lankinen (IR – hand) will begin taking shots next week
- F Jujhar Khaira (IR – back) has undergone more tests and surgery is a possibility
Related: NHL Roster Report: Jets, Wild & Bruins
Arvid Soderblom is expected to start Thursday vs Columbus, and it will be his third NHL appearance of the season, while Tyler Johnson and Riley Stillman are both on track to return in late February.
Chicago is currently well back of a playoff spot, and could be looking to trade some of their veterans at the deadline. Marc-Andre Fleury will likely be of interest to several teams, as he has a $7 million cap hit, but will be a free agent at the end of this season. He indicated recently that this is likely not his last year.
Marc-Andre Fleury said he would like to play at least one more season after this: "I don't have that much left. So enjoy this season and hopefully next season again and then after that, we'll see.” #Blackhawks— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) February 16, 2022
Darren Helm was elevated to the third line and J.T. Compher, was dropped to the fourth line Wednesday. Kurtis MacDermid was inserted back into the lineup for Ryan Murray.
- G Mikko Koskinen activated from the COVID protocol list
- G Stuart Skinner assigned to Bakersfield (AHL)
Skinner made one appearance during his recent recall in place of Koskinen. He made 20 saves and recorded a shutout against San Jose on Feb.14. Mike Smith will likely get the bulk of the starts in the second half of the season if he can stay healthy.
- Marcus Foligno suspension ended
Foligno returned to his regular role on the second line vs Winnipeg on Thursday after serving his two-game suspension. Also, Minnesota made a few tweaks to their defensive pairings, as Jon Merrill played with Alex Goligoski, and Jordie Benn reunited with Dmitry Kulikov on the third pair.
San Jose Sharks
- G Adin Hill (lower-body) did not practice on Wednesday and has been shut down for a few days
- F Rudolfs Balcers (upper-body) is considered probably for Thursday’s game vs Vancouver
Ryan Merkley is expected to play Thursday night in place of Radim Simek, while Merkley will likely see some time on the power play.
Matthew Highmore returned from COVID protocol, and practiced on a line with Tyler Motte and Juho Lammikko.
Vegas Golden Knights
- F Adam Brooks was claimed off waivers by Toronto
- G Robin Lehner (upper-body) was not available for Wednesday’s game
- F Jack Eichel was officially activated from LTIR
Adam Brooks was claimed off waivers for the third time this season, meaning he’s back where he started in Toronto after a stint with Montreal as well.
It’s unclear how long Lehner will be out of action, but he doesn’t expect it to be long-term. Logan Thompson was recently recalled, and will back up Laurent Brossoit while Lehner is on the shelf. Finally, Jack Eichel made his Vegas debut Wednesday on a line with Max Pacioretty and Evgeni Dadonov.
- D Neal Pionk activated from the Non-Roster list
Pionk returned to action after sitting out the last game due to COVID border restrictions. Ville Heinola was the odd man out, as Logan Stanley remained in the lineup and was paired with Nate Schmidt.
Austin Poganski replaced Evgeny Svechnikov on the fourth line, while Mark Scheifele recorded a hat-trick, and now has goals in five straight games.
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