Callahan close to returning as Lightning send Conacher to AHL

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Injuries to forwards Ryan Callahan and Nikita Kucherov forced the Tampa Bay Lightning to call up Cory Conacher from the American Hockey League this weekend.

After playing in the Lightning’s 3-1 loss to New Jersey on Saturday, Conacher is now on his way back to Syracuse.

That could mean that Callahan is on the verge of returning and making his 2016-17 season debut, perhaps as soon as Sunday night’s game against the New York Rangers.

Callahan has been sidelined as he continues to recover from hip surgery to correct an issue that had plagued him last year. Callahan recently said, via Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times, that he is “back to normal now.”

He appeared in 73 games for the Lightning a season ago and had one of his worst offensive seasons in the NHL, finishing with only 10 goals and 18 assists. He had only two goals and two assists in 16 playoff games for the Lightning as they reached Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

There is still no timetable for when Kucherov will be able to return for Tampa Bay. He was injured on Thursday night against the Montreal Canadiens.

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