Free agent forward Sam Gagner is back on the ice rehabbing after undergoing double hip surgery late last season, relays Murat Ates of The Athletic (subscription link). The 33-year-old was injured at the end of February but had provided Winnipeg with a bit of depth scoring prior to that point as Gagner had eight goals and six assists in 48 games. Gagner already has more than 1,000 career NHL appearances under his belt and doesn’t appear to be ready to call it a career just yet. Considering the year he had and the recovery from injury, Gagner might have to settle for a training camp PTO in the coming weeks with the hopes of converting it to a full-fledged deal closer to the start of the season.
Elsewhere around the hockey world:
- The University of Nebraska-Omaha announced that they have hired now-former Blackhawks development coach Peter Aubry as their associate coach. The 46-year-old spent the last eight seasons in Chicago’s organization, working with goaltenders at both the NHL and AHL levels. It won’t be Aubry’s first time behind the bench at the college level as he previously served as an assistant with both Mercyhurst and Lake Superior State.
- The Blue Jackets aren’t planning to replace former coach Kenny McCudden, notes Aaron Portzline of The Athletic (Twitter link). McCudden spent the past eight seasons as a skills coach with Columbus but resigned earlier this month to join Washington as an assistant coach. Mike Babcock (head coach) and Niklas Backstrom (goalie coach) are the newcomers to their coaching staff, joining holdovers Pascal Vincent (associate coach) and Steve McCarthy (assistant coach).
- Lightning prospect Isaac Howard was one of the most prominent players in the NCAA transfer portal this offseason, moving from Minnesota-Duluth to Michigan State. Speaking with NHL.com’s Corey Long, the 2022 31st selection indicated that he wanted to go to a more offensive-oriented environment which he felt would be a better fit. Tampa Bay assistant GM Stacy Roest added that Howard didn’t consult with the team prior to the decision but that they’re hopeful that the Spartans will be a better fit for the 19-year-old after he put up just six goals and 11 assists last season.