While he may not be ready for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, things are still looking positive regarding the health of Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad. Head coach Andrew Brunette said today that Ekblad remains week-to-week, but he has started skating and should return sometime in early May. That makes it seem likely that Ekblad will at least make an appearance during Florida’s First Round series, which will likely be against the Washington Capitals. It will be the second season in a row where Florida starts the playoffs without their star defenseman due to a lower-body injury, but this time around, it seems he’ll be ready to step in shortly after. Ekblad will have finished his regular season with 15 goals and 42 assists for 57 points in just 61 games, which is still currently eighth among all NHL defensemen.
More from around the NHL today:
- While San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson had been on a medical leave of absence since November, his departure announcement from the organization today still came as a shock. Long-time assistant GM Joe Will has taken duties since then, and he’ll remain in the interim position, but team president Jonathan Becher said today that the Sharks will hope to have a new GM by the beginning of next year. With that, it’s entirely possible that the Sharks head into a draft and free agency period with Will still at the helm of the club. That may not be an entirely bad thing, considering his familiarity with Becher and the club, but it takes away the chance for his successor to craft their roster ahead of next season.
- After being sent down early in the year and falling out of favor with head coach Darryl Sutter, the Calgary Flames have brought top defense prospect Juuso Valimaki back up to the big club from the AHL’s Stockton Heat. Valimaki played in 49 of the team’s 56 games last season, recording 11 points and never touching AHL ice. But after just two assists in eight games this season in limited minutes, the team opted to send Valimaki back down to the minors, where he had 17 points in 30 games. The team has no injuries on defense, so it’s a clear sign that the organization wants to see what effect his AHL stint this year had on him and whether he can be relied upon to play minutes for the team in the playoffs if injuries strike.