The Colorado Avalanche have finally gotten the news they were hoping for as the team announced that star forward Mikko Rantanen will be returning to the lineup tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks. He has been out for the past 16 games with a lower-body injury, but has been a full participant at practice since Tuesday.
Rantanen has been a key first-line wing option for Nathan MacKinnon, who has been without his two linemates for quite some time. Gabriel Landeskog has also been out with an injury of his own. However, with Rantanen back in the lineup, the first line should regain some of its previous success with Joonas Donskoi filling in for Landeskog. The 23-year-old has only appeared in nine games for Colorado this year, but was impressive in that span, scoring five goals and 12 points before going down against the St. Louis Blues on Oct. 21.
- StarTribune’s Sarah McLellan reports that Minnesota Wild winger Marcus Foligno is close to returning the lineup and could break up some of the team’s recent success as he is likely to break up some the team’s current fourth line of Victor Rask, Ryan Donato and Ryan Hartman. Foligno, who has been out since Nov. 7 with a lower-body injury, could return to the lineup Sunday, but head coach Bruce Boudreau hasn’t decided on whether he will use Foligno yet. With Foligno’s return, the Wild will also have to take one of their current fourth-liners out of the lineup.
- With a number of key injuries on their forward lines, the St. Louis Blues have recalled a number of players from the San Antonio Rampage, their AHL squad. However, The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford (subscription required) writes that the team still hasn’t recalled youngster Jordan Kyrou, who returned from offseason knee surgery in early November. While his numbers have been impressive (five goals and 11 points in 11 games with San Antonio), the team wants to make sure he’s ready to take over a top-nine role with the team, which will likley come in the next few weeks.
- The Athletic’s Sean Shapiro reports that Dallas Stars defenseman Stephen Johns, who hasn’t played since the 2017-18 season due to post-traumatic headaches, has been cleared to practice with the team again and did so on Saturday. He is taking the necessary steps to return to NHL action, although he still has a ways to go, according to head coach Jim Montgomery.