While the season remains on hold due to COVID-19, many players are getting every chance to get back to full health. In fact, the delay in the season could be a huge benefit to several teams that lost key players late in the season, which now might make them available if the NHL is able to continue the season or at least the playoffs.
The Columbus Blue Jackets look like they could be huge benefactors to that end as injured defenseman Seth Jones, a crucial linchpin to the team’s shutdown defense announced that he stepped on the ice today for the first time since suffering an ankle injury in which he required surgery to repair a sprain an hairline fracture on Feb. 11. He was given an 8-10 week recovery time after suffering the injury three days earlier against the Colorado Avalanche.
While Columbus had fared well despite suffering numerous team injuries over the course of the year, Jones’ departure from the lineup had quite the effect. The team picked up just three wins after his injury, with a 3-5-6 record.
The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline adds that while players are not allowed to use their teams’ facilities at the moment, Jones is permitted to do so as part of his rehab from ankle surgery, allowed by deputy commissioner Bill Daly. Injured players are allowed access to team’s facilities since the beginning of the league’s suspension.
- The Athletic’s Corey Masisak (subscription required) writes in his most recent mailbag entry that the longer the suspension goes on, the more and more likely the New Jersey Devils will had the permanent general manager position to current interim GM Tom Fitzgerald. With most candidates still under contract until the season ends, New Jersey has been unable to interview any candidates that are associated with a team. The team has interviewed former Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis (twice), but if the season goes deep into the summer, there is a good chance they will keep Fitzgerald, who took over for Ray Shero on Jan. 12 and had a successful trade deadline. Fitzgerald was already a top candidate for the job, but the Devils were interested in a full search, which now may be difficult.
- With rumors that the New York Islanders are already getting Russian goaltending prospect Ilya Sorokin under contract for next season, Sport-Express’ KHL writer Igor Eronko reports that another Russian prospect is considering coming stateside for the 2021-22 season. According to Eronko, 25-year-old forward Anatoli Golyshev has looked at houses in New York and wants to join the team in 2021. Golyshev, an Islanders’ fourth-round pick in 2016, had an injury-plagued campaign this year with just 11 goals and 25 points in 38 games, but scored 37 goals over his previous two years with Yekaterinburg Automobilist in the KHL.