Author: Mike Halford

Tampa Bay Lightning v Minnesota Wild

Zucker cleared for full practice, could return to Wild before end of season


Minnesota could get a key lineup piece back before the playoffs.

Jason Zucker, who’s been out with a broken collarbone since early February, has been cleared to practice fully and could draw back in for some games prior to the end of the regular season, per the Star-Tribune.

If it happens, it’ll be a rather speedy recovery.

When news broke of Zucker’s injury on Feb. 10, he was expected to miss three months while recovering. But he was back on ice four weeks after sustaining the break and, should he play prior to the end of the regular season (Minnesota’s last game is on Apr. 11), Zucker will have been sidelined for just two months.

(Which bodes well for Patrick Kane’s return in Chicago. Just saying.)

Getting Zucker back would be key for the Wild. He was second to Zach Parise in goals at the time of his injury (18 to Parise’s 21) and was the team’s leading sniper at even strength. Wild head coach Mike Yeo praised Zucker’s maturation as a player this season, saying the 23-year-old’s progress “was so high this year.”

Ducks recall ’11 first-rounder Noesen, acquired in Bobby Ryan trade

Arizona Coyotes v Anaheim Ducks

After an incredibly unlucky run of injuries, Stefan Noesen could soon make his NHL debut.

Noesen, taken 21st overall at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, has been recalled to Anaheim from AHL Norfolk, the club announced on Friday. The 22-year-old came to the Ducks from Ottawa in the Bobby Ryan trade of ’13… and has suffered through two major injuries and rehabs since.

Just a few games into the 2013-14 campaign, Noesen ripped up his knee — tearing both his ACL and MCL — which shelved him for all of the regular season and part of Norfolk’s playoff run. While he did return to get some postseason action, Noesen was again sidelined at the start of this season when he suffered a severed Achilles following a skate cut in mid-October.

Noesen only returned to the Norfolk lineup in mid-February, but made an immediate impact. He’s scored 10 points in 19 games since coming back and could provide a boost for the Ducks heading into the playoffs; Noesen has good size (6-foot-2, 205 pounds) and his playing style has earned comparisons to his new teammate, Corey Perry — from a fairly legit source in Ottawa GM Bryan Murray, who drafted Perry to the Ducks and Noesen to the Sens.

No supplemental discipline for Bollig after boarding Jackman

Philadelphia Flyers v Calgary Flames

Calgary’s Brandon Bollig won’t face any disciplinary hearing for his hit on St. Louis defenseman Barret Jackman Thursday night, an NHL spokesman has confirmed.

Here’s the incident in question. Bollig was given a five-minute boarding major and game misconduct:

Jackman left the game momentarily but did return, and finished with over 17 minutes of ice time.

The Department of Player Safety opted not to further punish Bollig despite his history as a repeat offender; during last year’s playoffs, he was suspended two games for boarding Minnesota Wild defenseman Keith Ballard.

Malkin to miss second straight game, says he ‘rushed’ back from injury

Evgeni Malkin

Turns out the injury currently plaguing Evgeni Malkin is a familiar one.

Malkin, who missed time in March with a lower-body ailment, told reporters on Friday that he returned too quickly from the injury and “didn’t feel good” after last weekend’s back-to-back against Arizona and San Jose, which is why he sat out Wednesday’s loss to Philly and will sit again on Saturday against Columbus:

Malkin, who turns 29 in July, has been dinged up over the course of the year and has missed 12 games as a result. This comes on the heels of a 2013-14 campaign in which he missed 22 games to various injuries (foot, lower body). Despite these ailments, the Russian sniper has still produced at a high level; last year he scored at a 1.20 points-per-game clip and, this season, is plugging along at 1.06.

Report: Bennett, fourth overall pick in ’14, joining Flames’ AHL affiliate


Big day for the 2014 draft class.

Shortly after Pittsburgh brought over its first-rounder — 22nd overall pick Kasperi Kapanen — from his club team in Finland, Sportsnet is reporting that Sam Bennett, the OHL Kingston center Calgary took fourth overall, will join the team’s AHL affiliate in Adirondack.

Bennett, 18, has experienced an unusual campaign. He was with the Flames in training camp before undergoing major shoulder surgery; he returned to practice with the NHL club in February and, upon being medically cleared to resume playing, was dispatched to Kingston rather than stick at the NHL or AHL level.

Bennett then proceeded to tear up the OHL — scoring 11 goals and 24 points in 11 games — but could only muster three points in the playoffs as Kingston was swept in the opening round.

Flames GM Brad Treliving has stated on numerous occasions the club wouldn’t rush Bennett’s progression, so it’s unlikely he’ll be up with Calgary for its late-season playoff push. That said, Sportsnet’s John Shannon did suggest the original plan was to have Bennett join the Flames in Edmonton prior to tomorrow’s game against the Oilers… so it’s definitely a situation worth monitoring moving forward.