After losing star forwards Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews to injury, Chicago is finally getting some good health news up front.
Bryan Bickell will return to the lineup tonight versus Minnesota, marking the first time he’ll suit up since Mar. 19. The burly power forward has missed the last six games with an upper-body injury but declared himself “100 percent” to make his return on Thursday.
With Kane and Toews out, Bickell will have a chance for some extended minutes in the hopes of reviving what’s been a down year. Bickell cashed in on a stellar playoff scoring spree this summer with a four-year, $16 million extension with the ‘Hawks, but has struggled in the face of heightened expectations — just 10 goals and 12 points in 53 games, and a 16-game stint on the shelf earlier in the season with a knee injury.
There are big hopes in Chicago that Bickell can regain his form in time for the playoffs, given how valuable he was a season ago. The 6-foot-4, 230-pounder had nine goals and 17 points in 23 postseason games en route to the Stanley Cup championship, scoring the game-tying goal just seconds before Dave Bolland’s winner in the Game 6 victory over Boston.
Taylor Hall is sick and reportedly “doubtful” for tonight’s game in Dallas.
Hall did not skate with the Oilers this morning. If he can’t play, Edmonton’s top two lines against the Stars could feature Ryan Nugent-Hopkins between wingers Teddy Purcell and Benoit Pouliot, followed by Connor McDavid centering Lauri Korpikoski and Nail Yakupov.
The Oilers — forced to start the season without top-six winger Jordan Eberle — have scored just once in their first two games, losing 3-1 in St. Louis and 2-0 in Nashville.
Edmonton returns home after tonight’s contest to play St. Louis on Thursday. Then it’s back out on the road for games against Calgary and Vancouver.
Buffalo has put blueliner Matt Donovan on waivers, per Sportsnet.
Donovan, 25, signed a one-year deal with the Sabres on the opening day of free agency after spending his entire professional career with the Isles organization.
The fact he’s being waived isn’t a huge shock. Donovan failed to draw into a single Sabres game this year despite a whittled-down blueline; Jake McCabe, recently called up from AHL Rochester, drew into the lineup for Monday’s win over Columbus at the expense of Carlo Colaiacovo, who played the first two games of the year.
The fact both McCabe and Colaiacovo were ahead on the depth chart didn’t bode well for Donovan. Today’s move could also suggest that Zach Bogosian, who hasn’t played this year due to injury, is ready to return.