Leafs prospect Nylander set to return to Marlies lineup after concussion … and appendicitis

More than a month after his last American Hockey League game, Toronto Maple Leafs prospects William Nylander is set to make his return to the Marlies lineup versus the Grand Rapids Griffins on Friday.

Nylander, selected eighth overall in the 2014 NHL Draft, last suited up for the Marlies on Dec. 18.

He suffered a concussion while playing for Sweden at the world juniors. And, as he revealed to Marlies broadcaster Todd Crocker, Nylander also dealt with a bout of appendicitis after completing the concussion protocol.

“I’m really excited. Been a month off on vacation, so I mean I’m ready to get back at it,” Nylander told Marlies TV prior to Friday’s game in Grand Rapids.

“I went through concussion protocol and that went by pretty quickly. Once I started to get back on the ice, was on the ice for a week, I basically came back … and had appendicitis. Then I was out for a couple of days, they gave me antibiotics and stuff, so it’s been a little of a delay with the return.”

The Marlies also play Saturday at home against the Binghamton Senators.

In 27 games with the Marlies this season, Nylander has 14 goals and 34 points.

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    Despres (concussion) back for Ducks after missing last 42 games

    at SAP Center on October 10, 2015 in San Jose, California.
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    Busy day in Anaheim.

    After the Ducks waived d-man Adam Clendening, then learned veteran forward Shawn Horcoff was suspended 20 games for PEDs, the club confirmed that blueliner Simon Despres would draw back into the lineup tonight for the first time since suffering a concussion in October.

    “First of all, to have him back, when he’s at his best he was very solid for us,” Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau said, per ESPN. “He’s a big, strong-bodied guy. He can play lots of minutes. What I’m expecting from him today is just a simple game, get his feet wet and do the right things and not try to over do things on his first night.

    “If we get that we’ll be very happy.”

    The Ducks have been high on Despres since acquiring him from Pittsburgh last season, and inked him to a five-year, $18.5 million extension right at the beginning of this year.

    Despres,who missed the last 42 games, is skating on a pairing with Sami Vatanen in advance of tonight’s game in Boston.

    Goalie nods: With Ward (concussion) on IR, Lack assumes No. 1 duties in Carolina

    Eddie Lack, Stanislav Galiev

    It’s Eddie Lack time for the ‘Canes.

    Lack, who’s been Cam Ward‘s understudy for most of this season — Ward’s started 30 times, Lack 15 — will now transition into the starter’s role, beginning tonight when Carolina takes on the Leafs in Toronto.

    Ward was placed on IR yesterday with a concussion, which resulted in 21-year-old Czech netminder Daniel Altshuller being recalled from AHL Charlotte.

    Altshuller is relatively inexperienced, in the midst of his first American League campaign after spending time with ECHL Florida.

    Carolina’s third-round pick in 2012, Altshuller has played well for the Checkers this season, going 9-1-1 with a 1.71 GAA, a .941 save percentage and one shutout in 11 games.

    But he likely won’t challenge Lack for minutes.

    As such, this marks a real opportunity for the Swedish ‘tender to take hold of the No. 1 job, as Ward’s a pending UFA with no guarantee of returning next season. Lack, who signed a two-year extension with Carolina right before the start of the season, hasn’t been great this year — 8-9-1, 2.97 GAA, .891 save percentage — but has gone 5-2-2 in his last nine starts.

    For Toronto, James Reimer gets the start in goal.

    Elsewhere…

    Jacob Markstrom gives the in-form Ryan Miller a rest when the Canucks take on the Bruins in Boston. Markstrom will likely be up against Tuukka Rask.

    Craig Anderson versus Cory Schneider as the Sens go up against the Devils at Prudential.

    — Both the Flyers and Penguins will roll with their No. 1s in the latest installment of the Battle of Pennsylvania: Steve Mason versus Marc-Andre Fleury.

    Karri Ramo goes back in for the Flames tonight, after Bob Hartley went with Jonas Hiller for a brief stretch. Ramo will be up against Sergei Bobrovsky for Columbus.

    — Stanley Cup Final rematch between the ‘Hawks and Bolts tonight, and each team will be going with the guys that were in goal for last June’s decisive Game 6: Corey Crawford, and Ben Bishop.

    — It’s Pekka Rinne up against Connor Hellebuyck as the Preds visit Winnipeg.

    — After getting a rest the other night in favor of Anders Nilsson, Cam Talbot returns to the Edmonton net. Looks like Antti Niemi will go for Dallas.

    — San Jose will look to rebound from a shootout loss to Ottawa, and will do so with Martin Jones in goal. No confirmation from Arizona yet, but it looks like the Coyotes will stick with Louis Domingue.

    Devan Dubnyk gets the night off after playing on Wednesday against the Ducks, so Darcy Kuemper starts in L.A. He’ll be up against Jonathan Quick.

    ‘Canes put Ward on IR with concussion

    Cam Ward
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    Significant shakeup in goal in Carolina — the club has placed veteran Cam Ward on injured reserve with a concussion, and recalled Daniel Altshuller from AHL Charlotte.

    How Ward suffered his concussion is unclear at the moment. In his last outing, a 3-2 OT loss to Vancouver, he stopped 19 of 22 shots and played the entire game — though it’s worth noting that, in the game followin, Eddie Lack was left in for all five goals in a 5-0 drubbing against Pittsburgh.

    Ward, 31, has had an erratic year, going 14-11-5 with a 2.42 GAA and .905 save percentage. That said, he was playing some of his best hockey at the time of his injury — in five games in January, he’d stopped 124 of 134 shots for a .925 save percentage.

    Looking ahead, it sure seems as though Lack will carry the load moving forward. Altshuller is only 21, and this year marks his first in the American League after spending time with ECHL Florida.

    Carolina’s third-round pick in 2012, Altshuller has played well for the Checkers this season, going 9-1-1 with a 1.71 GAA, a .941 save percentage and one shutout in 11 games.

    Looking even further ahead, it’ll be interesting to see how this injury affects Ward’s status within the organization. A pending UFA, there hasn’t been much movement on a new contract and he could be headed to market this summer.

    Promising ‘Canes rookie Di Giuseppe (concussion) out indefinitely

    NEWARK, NJ - DECEMBER 29: Phil Di Giuseppe #34 of the Carolina Hurricanes skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on December 29, 2015 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Hurricanes 3-2.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    One of the bright spots in Carolina this year has been the emergence of its rookies, led by the likes of Noah Hanifin, Brett Pesce, Jacob Slavin, Brock McGinn and Phillip Di Giuseppe.

    But now, that bright spot’s been dulled a bit.

    Di Guiseppe has been diagnosed with a concussion and will be out indefinitely, per the Raleigh News & Observer. Injured Saturday night against the Predators, Di Guiseppe — the 38th overall pick at the ’12 draft — could be out of action for a while, which is a disappointment after he showed some real offensive prowess in his first-ever stint with the ‘Canes.

    Recalled from AHL Charlotte early last month, Di Guiseppe made his NHL debut on Dec. 5 and proceeded to score eight points through his first 14 games at the big-league level, averaging over 12 minutes per night.

    A former University of Michigan standout, Di Guiseppe had been skating on a line with Victor Rask and Jeff Skinner.