Carolina forward Bryan Bickell received life-altering news earlier this season when he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Bickell was unsure if he’d ever play hockey again, let alone this season.
Which makes today’s news quite incredible.
Per NHL.com, Bickell is aiming to return to the ‘Canes following their upcoming bye week, for a home date against the Avalanche on Feb. 17.
“It all depends too on what other guys are doing if they’re going on a huge streak,” Bickell explained. “I like to see them win. If they need me, I’m sure an extra week of me skating is not going to hurt me.
“We’re just going to wait until after the next treatment and after the bye week and go from there.”
Bickell’s treatment is a monthly intravenous of Tysabri, a drug which helps limit the effects of MS. The 30-year-old said he began feeling better upon taking the medication, and has since increased his skating workload to get up to NHL speed.
He’s been skating for a month, and said he’d be open to the idea of an AHL conditioning stint. He hasn’t played since Oct. 30.
The ‘Canes, meanwhile, have two games left before their break.
In the short-term, Bickell is set to have another round of Tysabri later this week, resume skating activity, then see where how he’s feeling.
Whatever the case, he’s already taken a big step in a very positive direction.
The goaltending situation in Philadelphia has become a lot more clear today, as they’ve signed Michal Neuvirth to a contract extension.
According to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, it’s a two-year deal worth a total of $5 million ($2.5 million cap hit).
Neuvirth was set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.
The 28-year-old has been between the pipes for nine of his team’s last 11 games, but he’s dropped four of his last five decisions. He has a 10-9-1 record with a 2.90 goals-against-average and a .887 save percentage in 24 games.
The duo of Neuvirth and Steve Mason hasn’t worked out too well in Philadelphia. Both players have struggled to find consistency in their game, which has been problematic for the Flyers.
Even though Neuvirth will be back, they can still shake things up by moving on from Mason, who is also scheduled to become a free agent on July 1st.
The Flyers also re-signed forward Pierre Edouard Bellemare earlier today.
Philadelphia has re-upped with checking forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare on a two-year extension, per Sportsnet.
It’s believed to be a $2.9 million pact, one that carries a $1.45M average annual cap hit. That’s a nice raise for the 31-year-old, who’s in the last of a two-year pact at $712,500 per.
Bellemare joined the Flyers for the ’14-15 campaign, following a lengthy career in Europe that included stops in his native France, and a lengthy spell in Sweden. He’s emerged as a good energy guy in the bottom-six forward group, one that can kill penalties and chip in with a bit of offense.
Today’s news might come as a bit of a surprise for Flyers fans, however. Bellemare was a pending UFA and, given he’s on the wrong side of 30, there was speculation he’d be sold at the deadline in the hopes of recouping some assets.
Some tough news if you’re a fan of the New York Rangers.
According to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, Jesper Fast will miss some time with what’s believed to be a separated shoulder.
Fast suffered the injury after being flattened by Alex Ovechkin in last night’s 4-1 loss to the Washington Capitals.
The 25-year-old has been a key contributor for New York this season. He’s up to five goals and 15 assists in 59 games. He’s also second in shorthanded ice time and in hits among all Rangers forwards.
The Rangers went into last night’s game without Mika Zibanejad and they also lost Chris Kreider momentarily yesterday, but he was able to return.
Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault is expected to provide an update on Fast’s status after today’s practice, but don’t expect the news to be good.
The Montreal Canadiens are keeping busy.
Just one day after acquiring Steve Ott from the Detroit Red Wings and Brendan Davidson from the Edmonton Oilers in separate deals, general manager Marc Bergevin completed another trade before the deadline when he acquired forward Dwight King from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for a conditional 2018 fourth-round draft pick.
It will become a third-round pick if he re-signs with the Canadiens this summer when he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
In 63 games this season King has eight goals and seven assists.
He also adds to the Canadiens’ apparent season-long attempt to become a grittier and tougher team, now joining a roster that now has seen Ott, Shea Weber, and Andrew Shaw join it over the past eight months.
For the Kings, it is a move that clears out a bit of salary cap space, perhaps opening the door for them to complete a deal with Colorado for Jarome Iginla, something that seems to be a work in progress on Wednesday.
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