While the hockey world waits to see which team will be the last member of the NHL’s final four, the Philadelphia Flyers are already looking to next season. CSN Philly’s Tim Panaccio passes along word from the team that Chris Pronger, Kris Versteeg and Michael Leighton had underwent surgeries today.
Pronger had a disk fragment removed from his back. He’ll begin walking rehab soon and will be able to begin core strengthening exercises in six weeks. Versteeg will begin rehab in 10 days after repairing abdominal tears. Leighton will begin his own rehab in a few days after repairing a torn labrum in his hip. This is the second consecutive off-season in which Pronger and Leighton received surgery of some kind.
Those three players aren’t the only Flyers expected to have surgery this summer. As we discussed before, Mike Richards, Andrej Meszaros and Blair Betts are almost certain to go under the knife for various ailments. Hip issues might also force Jeff Carter and Scott Hartnell to undergo surgery as well, although both Flyers are supposed to find out on Friday.
Perhaps the silver lining of getting bumped out of the playoffs more than a month earlier than last year is that players can use that extra time to recover from injuries. Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that Danny Briere, Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk were the Flyers who carried the torch for much of the playoffs, then. They might have been the healthiest big-minute players on the roster.
Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk has been the most difficult goalies to score against this season. Leave it to a high-level player like Leon Draisaitl to make it look this, well, “easy.”
Draisaitl scored his 13th goal of 2016-17 by capping this pretty give-and-go play with Benoit Pouliot. You can see the frustration from Dubnyk at the end of the tally, as if he was saying “How was I supposed to stop that?” (though probably with more colorful language).
Draisaitl came into Friday with five goals and three assists in his last five games, so he’s been almost unstoppable lately.
Read more about his rise here.
In his fifth NHL game, intriguing Washington Capitals prospect Jakub Vrana scored his first NHL goal (and point).
Let’s be honest, though; Evgeny Kuznetsov deserves plenty of the credit, as he sent a fantastic pass for Vrana’s tap-in tally.
See it for yourself:
Even if that was mostly Kuznetsov, Vrana has been getting his chances so far.
He generated four shots on goal in two separate occasions so far in his four games of NHL action, so maybe he was due for a chance like this.
Considering he’s just 20 years old, the Capitals could get used to Kuznetsov to Vrana.
Update: The Capitals won 4-1, and Vrana’s first goal wasn’t the only noteworthy “first.” After piling on shots, John Carlson finally scored his first goal of the season:
No one’s going to confuse Dmitry Kulikov with Jack Eichel, but the Buffalo Sabres are likely happy to have him back after a long absence, too.
The Sabres have been on an upward trend lately (5-2-2 in their last nine games), and now they get a key defenseman back against the Washington Capitals on Friday night.
Kulikov last played on Nov. 9 and hasn’t recorded a point in 12 games, making for a tough start to his stint with the Sabres. Maybe he’ll begin to get a little more traction with his new team tonight?
He’s far from the only returning Buffalo player, either, as Josh Gorges and Nicolas Deslauriers are also back in the mix. Kulikov is slated to be on the Sabres’ second pairing with Cody Franson.
Buffalo sent Brendan Guhle to the AHL to make room for these tweaks.
The Columbus Blue Jackets will be without captain Nick Foligno because of an illness on Friday, opening up an opportunity for interesting prospect Oliver Bjorkstrand.
The team tweeted out his linemates as Matt Calvert and Lukas Sedlak as a solid fourth line facing the Detroit Red Wings.
He failed to generate much (zero points, two shots on goal) in three games so far with Columbus this season, receiving about 25 minutes of ice time over that span.
With eight goals and 12 points in 19 AHL games so far in 2016-17, there’s the thought that he could eventually make the next step to becoming a decent contributor for the Blue Jackets.
Perhaps this will constitute his first real step in that direction?
Apparently this is a pretty abrupt situation for the 21-year-old: