Carolina Hurricanes winger Bryan Bickell, out since late October with what was later revealed to be Multiple Sclerosis, plans to be ready to return following the team’s bye week, according to Tom Gulitti of NHL.com. The ’Canes begin a five-game homestand on February 17th and barring a setback, Bickell could be in the lineup for Carolina when they host the Colorado Avalanche.
As Gulitti writes, Bickell has made tremendous progress since starting treatments of Tysarbi, a drug given monthly to “limit the debilitating effects of MS.” He began taking the medication in December and has been skating since early January.
“I feel good,” Bickell said after a conditioning skate at Verizon Center, where the Hurricanes face the Washington Capitals on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET: CSN-DC, FS-CR, NHL.TV). “I obviously don’t feel good right now, I just got skated pretty hard, but it’s going to help me down the long run. I think we’re getting there and getting close to getting back in the rotation. We’re shooting for probably after the bye week and then kind of day by day from there.”
Of course just because Bickell may be cleared for action doesn’t mean the Hurricanes will insert the veteran winger into the lineup. As the player himself notes, much of the decision will have to do with how other players are performing.
“It all depends too on what other guys are doing if they’re going on a huge streak,” Bickell said. “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.”
It’s also possible the team will seek to send Bickell down to Charlotte of the AHL on a conditioning assignment to help prepare him to return to the lineup.
Bickell was acquired last summer in a trade with Chicago that also brought winger Teuvo Teravainen to Raleigh in exchange for draft picks. The Blackhawks were forced to part with the talented, young Teravainen as a means to extricate themselves from the final year of Bickell’s $4MM cap charge.
With 58 points, the Hurricanes are currently on the outside looking in at a playoff berth but are just four points behind Philadelphia for the second wild card spot and have three games in hand on the Flyers. Carolina will likely hold onto their prospects but if the right opportunity arises, they could find themselves buying at the deadline. However, if Bickell returns and is effective, it reduces the team’s need to add.