The New York Islanders are expecting to get back two significant players from injury in the next few days as defenseman Thomas Hickey and winger Andrew Ladd took part in the Islanders’ optional morning skate Saturday in non-contact jerseys, according to New York Post’s Brett Cyrgalis. Hickey has been out with a concussion since Dec. 17, while Ladd has been out since Nov. 13 with a lower-body injury.
However, while many people look at their eventual returns as like picking up a couple of deadline acquisitions, Cyrgalis writes that Hickey and Ladd won’t stop general manager Lou Lamoriello and head coach Barry Trotz from going out and adding to the team at the trade deadline.
“We sat down and talked about where we are, our chemistry, our team. We’ve discussed maybe some of the areas we could improve,” Trotz said. “Lou is as diligent as anyone you’re ever going to meet in terms of making calls and seeing what’s out there. And if he’s going to do anything, it’s going to be in the best interest of the New York Islanders. He’s not going to do anything that’s — he’s looking to improve us all the time, either internally or externally.”
With the team in first place in the Metropolitan Division with 66 points, four points in front of both Washington and Pittsburgh, the Islanders are in a position to be buyers and have plenty of roster flexibility and cap space to make the right deals for the team. The team has a number of players on expiring deals, including Jordan Eberle, Anders Lee, Brock Nelson and goaltender Robin Lehner, but it doesn’t make any sense for the team to move them if their goal is to bulk up for the playoffs. So while many don’t know what to expect, Lamoriello is well known for pulling off some big moves at the deadline.
- It’s a season to forget for Montreal Canadiens forward Paul Byron. Already having made a six-month recovery from offseason surgery on his right shoulder, Byron went down again Sunday after getting his left shoulder jammed after taking a hit from Edmonton’s Matt Benning. The forward was ruled out of the game Sunday, according to Sportsnet’s Eric Engels, and was steaming mad on his way off the ice. The 29-year-old has only appeared in 36 games. He has 10 goals and 19 points in that span. No word on how serious the injury to Byron was.
- Philly.com’s Sam Carchidi reports that Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Brian Elliott is making progress. The veteran goaltender practiced with the team Sunday, but there remains no timetable for his return, but could be back within two weeks. Elliott has been out of the lineup since Nov. 15. No word on whether he will go to Lehigh Valley on a conditioning stint, but early rumors suggest that Philadelphia will likely keep three goaltenders once he returns.
- The Athletic’s Scott Powers reports that while Chicago Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton said he didn’t have an update on injured goaltender Corey Crawford, he does expect Crawford to return this season. The veteran goalie has been out since Dec. 16 with a concussion. He already missed the second half of the 2017-18 season as well as the start of this season with a concussion.