Wednesday, November 23, 2005

A walk through the wounded

It's not something I've done before, but a few of my readers are curious when various players will be returning to the line-up. So, here are 20 injured players, in order of interest, and a note about when they'll be returning.
  1. Keith (Big Walt) Tkachuk [St. Louis] has been practicing with the team for some time now and should be returning within a week after missing just over a month with displaced ribs. He's been wearing a flak jacket in practice to protect the affected area and may do so when he returns to the ice. He's currently considered day-to-day.

  2. Kari Lehtonen [Atlanta] was the Thrashers projected No. 1 netminder but has played just 20 minutes all year due to groin problems. The injury is so severe that the team is hoping for his return by early to mid December, at the earliest. He's now back on the ice for the first time in a month, but the team is sure to be cautious with their young franchise netminder.

  3. Brian Leetch [Boston] will be making a much quicker return than earlier anticipated as the 37-year-old future Hall of Famer has been skating on his injured knee for some time now. Leetch will play either Friday or Saturday, meaning some of the burden on the defence will be taken from Nick Boynton and Jiri Slegr, who has been the go-to powerplay guy in Leetch's absence.

  4. Ryan Miller [Buffalo] hasn't progressed any differently than expected and will be back around mid-December from his broken thumb injury. The Sabres have been in a tailspin since he went down, and it may be a few more weeks of the Biron/Noronen tandem getting it done (or not).

  5. Martin Rucinsky [NY Rangers] could be back lining up beside Jaromir Jagr within a week. Rucinsky was having a great season before he went down with a sprained MCL.

  6. Scott Walker [Nashville] was originally going to miss most of this season with a nasty abdominal injury but is now projected to be back by mid-November.

  7. Sami Kapanen [Philadelphia] has yet to play this season and experienced a small setback this week, but is within a week to 10 days from returning.

  8. Steve Sullivan [Nashville] is back playing tonight in Columbus.

  9. Three centres on their way back are Joe Nieuwendyk, Rusty Olesz and Nathan Horton [Florida], perhaps as early as Friday's game against Pittsburgh. As you can imagine, things have been thin in the middle for the Panthers. (The return of these guys is bad news for Josef Stumpel who has quickly fallen out of favour with defensive-minded coach Jacques Martin.) UPDATE Nieuwendyk is playing tonight.
  10. (see above)
  11. (see above)

  12. Alex Mogilny [New Jersey] is playing in tonight's game against Florida after being out with a concussion.

  13. Josef Vasicek's [Carolina] season could, for all intents and purposes, be over. Vasicek was having a tough year already with only five points in 15 games and tore his ACL last week. If you recall, Vasicek led the 'Canes in scoring in 2003-04. No really.

  14. Tuomo Ruutu and Eric Daze [Chicago] both have serious back injuries and both will be out for an extended period. Daze in particular is in trouble, and I suspect his career may be over due to chronic back woes.
  15. (see above)

  16. It's the same old story for Rick Nash [Columbus] and his bum knee. He won't be lining up beside Blue Jacket newcomer Sergei Fedorov until mid-December, at the earliest. His participation on the Canadian Olympic team may also be in jeopardy at this point.

  17. Niklas Kronwall [Detroit] is still out until late February. The Red Wings blueline is taking quite the hit now with Jiri Fischer sidelined — perhaps forever.

  18. Jason LaBarbera [Los Angeles] is back on the bench backing up Mathieu Garon after missing time for undisclosed personal reasons. Garon was great in LaBarbera's absence and may have won more starts than he was getting.

  19. Valeri Bure [Los Angeles] is into some holistic medicine to try and heal his ailing back, which probably doesn't bode all that well for his return. The Kings are flying without him, so don't hurry back Valeri.

  20. I'll let the Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons tell you about Owen Nolan's [currently teamless] progress: "Nolan is hoping to be back in the NHL by January or February, just in time to poison some unsuspecting lineup prior to the playoffs."


At 11:16 p.m., November 23, 2005, Anonymous David Johnson said...

I've heard Lehtonen could be back in the second week of December.

There is a very good chance that Kapanen could be back for the Flyers next game which is Friday at Boston.

At 1:09 a.m., November 24, 2005, Blogger Matt said...

Am I the only guy who likes Matthew Lombardi? His upside is higher than more than half the guys on your list, but even if you're not impressed with "upside", his status has got to be at least as newsworthy as Vasicek, Horton, Kronwall, Olesz, and some of these clowns. No?

At 5:25 p.m., November 24, 2005, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Heh, I don't have any personal beef with Lombardi, but I would say that the players I mention are more high-profile than him. Olesz and Kronwall are both first-round picks (besides, the Panthers are missing three centres, which is worth noting on its own).

I also haven't seen an update on Lombardi's status since mid-October.


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