NHL Injury Update: Hughes returns for Devils; Cassidy in COVID protocol

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Jack Hughes will return to the Devils lineup on Tuesday after missing the last 17 games with a dislocated shoulder.

Hughes was injured following a hit by Kraken defenseman Jeremy Lauzon. After landing awkwardly, he skated to the dressing room favoring his left shoulder. After being re-evaluated a week later, the Devils announced the 20-year-old would miss another five weeks of action.

“It’s extremely exciting. It’s been a long time,” Hughes said. “I’m excited to get back out there. Starting at home and playing in front of our fans, it’ll be a lot of fun. I had this date circled. I prob got in sooner than most thought.”

Devils head coach Lindy Ruff said it’s possible Hughes opens Tuesday game against the Sharks on the wing.

Hughes has appeared in just two games for the Devils this season, scoring two goals and adding an assist.

“I started hot,” Hughes said. “And now I have 65 games to get hot again.”

Bruins to be without Cassidy vs. Red Wings

Bruce Cassidy was not on the ice for Boston’s morning skate on Tuesday. The Bruins’ head coach was placed into COVID-19 protocol and will be unavailable for their game against the Red Wings.

General manager Don Sweeney said that Cassidy is experiencing mild symptoms and that assistant coach Joe Sacco will run the bench in his absence.

The Bruins will also be without forward Brad Marchand after he was suspended three games by the NHL for slew-footing Canucks defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

Senators are COVID clear

Drake Batherson rejoined his Senators teammates on Tuesday after exiting COVID-19 protocol. The forward was the last of 10 players in protocol after the team experienced an outbreak earlier this month. The COVID issues that affected the team led to three games being postponed by the NHL.

Included among the Senators who were affected was assistant coach Jack Capuano.

“I went through a stretch there that was real tough. But you know, the last four or five days, I feel really good,” Capuano told CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning. “A lot of people ask where they get it, but I wouldn’t really have any idea. If you look around the NHL right now, the New York Islanders are hit with eight or nine guys, too. You can’t really put a finger on it … it just goes to show you how careful you have to be.”

Price on the ice

Carey Price skated without pads on Monday as he continues his return from off-season knee surgery and a 30-day stay in the NHL/NHLPA’s Player Assistance Program.

The Canadiens have a four-part return plan for the 34-year-old goaltender and skating by himself is the second step. Soon he will be ready for on-ice sessions with goalie coach Eric Raymond before rejoining his teammates for practice.

Oilers cancel practice as a precaution

Cody Ceci entered COVID-19 protocol and the Oilers canceled Tuesday’s practice as a precaution. Edmonton is off until Wednesday when they welcome the Penguins to Rogers Place.

The Oilers also placed defenseman Duncan Keith on injured reserve. He suffered an upper-body injury last week against the Stars and was originally deemed “day-to-day.” Fellow blue liner Darnell Nurse skated on Monday as he nears a return from a broken finger.

“Nurse has to get cleared,” said Oilers head coach Dave Tippett. “I think he’s having another test or scan today, and then Duncan, it’s just a matter of how he feels. It’s the first time he’s skated in four days today, so we’ll see how he came out of it.”

Oilers goaltender Mike Smith has been out since Oct. 19 with a lower-body injury but he’s in line to make a return some time in the next little while.

“Smith has been on the ice four days in a row now; we’ll see where he gets to in the next few days,” Tippett said. “Today was the first day he stopped pucks.”

Doughty possibly back this week

The Kings may get back a big piece of their blue line this week as Drew Doughty inches closer to a return. The defenseman has been out since Oct. 22 with a knee injury.

During the last two Kings practices Doughty has regained his spot on the top pairing with Mikey Anderson. He remains on injured reserve but there is a chance he’s back in the lineup Tuesday against Anaheim.

“When Drew does get back into the lineup, collectively we can’t take a big sigh of relief, we’ve got to play well for him so that he can get his game going again,” said Kings head coach Todd McLellan. “That’s what we’ll be looking for.”

Barkov practices

Encouraging news for the Panthers as captain Aleskander Barkov participated in Monday’s practice. It was the first time he skated with his teammates since suffering a lower-body injury on Nov. 16.

Barkov, who was injured in a knee-on-knee collision with Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield, wore a non-contact jersey and did not take part in line rushes.

“It was great to see him,” said Panthers head coach Andrew Brunette. “It was good he’s out there for the guys too. It was nice to see him skate. … We’ll see how he makes out every day and get re-evaluated.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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