The Penguins could be getting some more help from the infirmary. Seth Rorabaugh of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review notes that center Nick Bjugstad is on the verge of returning to the lineup and should be available to play on Thursday night against Buffalo where he’s likely to suit up on the third line. The 27-year-old has been out for more than three months due to a core muscle injury, one that caused him to miss some time in October as well. Bjugstad has since recovered from his surgery and while it would be difficult to expect him to contribute too much offensively after being out for so long, he should at least be able to provide a physical presence while he gets back up to speed.
Elsewhere in the Eastern Conference:
- Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports in his latest 31 Thoughts that the Maple Leafs center Jason Spezza has yet to have discussions about a possible contract extension with the Leafs. He’s playing for the league minimum of $700K this season and will need to take a similar deal if he wants to have a chance to stay in Toronto given their contract structure despite producing relatively well given his low ice time with 25 points in 55 games while playing under 11 minutes a night.
- Although Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky wasn’t at practice today, he is still an option to play on Thursday, relays George Richards of The Athletic (Twitter link). He was a surprise scratch on Sunday due to a lower-body injury. If he can’t go, Chris Driedger is expected to be available after returning from his conditioning stint on Tuesday.
- Islanders center Casey Cizikas is getting closer to returning. GM Lou Lamoriello told reporters, including Arthur Staple of The Athletic (Twitter link) that the rugged forward is about a week away from getting back on the ice and likely two weeks from returning to the lineup. Cizikas has been out since suffering a lower-body injury against Philadelphia back on February 11th.