After six-game absence, Bickell back for ‘Hawks

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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.


Gustavsson secures one-year contract with Bruins

Jonas Gustavsson
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There was stiff competition for the backup goaltending job in Boston, but with a signing this afternoon, it seems likely that the matter has been resolved.

The Boston Bruins announced that Jonas Gustavsson has agreed to a one-year, $700,000 deal. It’s a one-way contract, according to the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin.

That contract is still small enough that the Bruins could bury it in the minors if they so desire, but it does set him apart from his last competitor for the goalie position, Jeremy Smith, who has a two-way deal. The fact that Boston went this route seems to imply that Gustavsson will serve as Tuukka Rask‘s understudy, although both netminders attended Sunday’s practice.

In Smith, the Bruins would be getting a 26-year-old goaltender who was dominant with the AHL’s Providence Bruins last season, but has no NHL experience. By contrast Gustavsson, 30, has played in almost 150 NHL games.

Boston sent Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban to the minors last week, but an argument could be made that either one of them is worthy of the backup job. However, both of them have a lot of potential and it’s not surprising that the Bruins felt they were better served by staying in the minors where they can play regularly and focus on honing their game.

Flames release Ryan Wilson from PTO

Ryan Wilson, Sidney Crosby
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The Calgary Flames have released Ryan Wilson from his professional tryout.

The 28-year-old was trying to make a comeback after missing 79 games with a shoulder injury last season.

Even with T.J. Brodie sidelined because of a broken hand, Wilson still faced long odds to make the final roster.

The veteran will be hard-pressed to find NHL work with another team.

He hasn’t suited up in more than 12 regular season games since 2011-12.

The Stockton Heat, Calgary’s AHL affiliate, also made some news on Sunday.

The club announced that they’ve signed Colton Orr to an AHL contract.

The 33-year-old tough guy suited up in just one game for the Toronto Maple Leafs last season. He has 12 seasons of NHL experience under his belt.