Prior to their bye week, Penguins winger Nick Bjugstad had been skating on his own and had even traveled with the team on its recent road trip, leading to some speculation that he was nearing a return. However, he hasn’t been skating since then, yet head coach Mike Sullivan told reporters, including Matt Vensel of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, that Bjugstad hasn’t suffered a setback but declined to go into further detail. The initial timeline for his return was a minimum of eight weeks after undergoing core muscle surgery. This is week nine since then and even if this is just planned rest and not anything of concern, it certainly seems like Bjugstad is going to be out for a while longer.
Other injury notes from around the league:
- Avalanche winger Colin Wilson has missed nearly three months with a lower-body injury and it doesn’t sound like he’s coming back anytime soon. Adrian Dater of Colorado Hockey Now reports (Twitter link) that it looks doubtful that he will return to play this season. The 30-year-old is set to become an unrestricted free agent in July and considering that he has only played in nine games in 2019-20, he’ll be hard-pressed to get his current $2.6MM salary on his next deal.
- Oilers winger James Neal was a late scratch on Friday due to a foot injury and is doubtful to play in Saturday’s rematch of the Battle of Alberta against Calgary, notes Postmedia’s Jim Matheson. While his goal production has slipped as of late (he has scored in only one of Edmonton’s last 13 games – though that one game saw him record a hat trick), he still sits third on the team in goals with 19.
- Senators defenseman Christian Wolanin has been cleared for contact as he works his way back from shoulder surgery, notes Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch. He was injured just before training camp got underway and has yet to play this season. Ottawa plans to assign him to Belleville of the AHL on Wednesday and should make his season debut a week or so after that. With the Sens likely to move a blueliner or two by the trade deadline, there’s a good chance that Wolanin’s AHL time will be limited.
- A difficult season for Vancouver Canucks forward Tyler Motte is only getting worse. The team has announced that Motte, who has already missed 27 games this season with a broken foot, is now set to miss four-to-six weeks with a shoulder injury. When Motte returns in March, he likely will have missed another 15-20 games, meaning more than half of the 2019-20 season will have been lost to injury. Even when the young forward has been healthy, he has recorded just five points in 24 games. It’s been a year to forget for Motte.
- The same can be said for the Buffalo Sabres and forward Kyle Okposo. After being sidelined for ten games earlier this season due to a concussion, head coach Ralph Krueger told the media today that a new upper-body injury is likely to keep Okposo out “weeks”. The veteran forward left Thursday night’s game early and did not return and now it seems a return to the lineup is not imminent. As Buffalo continues to falter after a hot start, Okposo’s twelve points on the year and inability to stay in the lineup are not helping the cause.