The New York Islanders will get some defensive reinforcements down the stretch.
That was the word out of Long Island on Monday as head coach Jack Capuano said injured defenseman Brian Strait is “close” to returning to action.
Strait, 25, was put on injured reserve in mid-February after breaking his ankle in a game against the Flyers.
According to NHL.com’s Brian Compton, Strait will “definitely” play before the end of the regular season.
Pittburgh’s third-round selection (65th overall) at the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, Strait was plucked off waivers from the Pens the day prior to New York’s season-opening loss to New Jersey and appeared in 15 games for the Isles before getting hurt, registering four assists with a plus-3 rating while averaging 17:54 in ice time.
On Jan. 31, the Islanders signed Strait to a three-year, $2.3 million extension.
New York currently sits seventh in the Eastern Conference with 47 points, three clear of ninth-place Winnipeg. They have six games remaining on their schedule, which includes a five-game road trip to close out the year in Toronto, Winnipeg, Carolina, Philadelphia and Buffalo.
Update: The Isles have activated Strait from injured reserve.