Unrestricted free agent goaltender Tuukka Rask still needs to be medically cleared to return to action, but that could come as early as this weekend according to Amalie Benjamin of NHL.com. The return would likely come at the AHL level for the Providence Bruins, who play against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Friday and Sunday.
Rask, 34, hasn’t played a game in the AHL since the 2008-09 season when he went 33-20-4 for Providence and led them to the Eastern Conference Finals. He would likely sign a professional tryout contract in order to suit up at that level, as an NHL contract would require him to pass through waivers before being assigned to Providence. A conditioning loan, which would be another potential way of getting him time in the AHL while under an NHL contract, would not remove Rask from the 23-man roster, meaning Boston would be at a disadvantage while the veteran goaltender got up to speed. A PTO for Providence doesn’t have these restrictions, meaning there could be one coming down the pipe in the next few days if he’s cleared.
- Auston Matthews’ positive COVID result from a rapid test yesterday was not confirmed today, as his PCR result returned negative. While he was still held out from practice, there is still a chance he avoids the protocol and can play for the team tomorrow night. Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe told reporters including Luke Fox of Sportsnet that they are awaiting the results of another test that should be known tomorrow morning.
- The Canadian women’s hockey team will not play again before the Olympics as they try to avoid any further COVID-19 cases. According to the Canadian Press, the group will enter a bubble for the next few weeks in order to ensure they can all travel to Beijing in time for the tournament, which kicks off on February 2–actually a few days ahead of the opening ceremonies. The team must make three cuts from the 26 players they currently have, but will no longer play the tune-up matches against the United States or the AJHL.