Aaron Ekblad will return to the lineup for the Florida Panthers tonight, according to Craig Davis of the Sun Sentinel. The Panthers superstar suffered his third concussion—not including the bout of “whiplash” he suffered at the World Cup—ten days ago, and apparently has cleared all the procedures to return to the lineup. With the Panthers now eight points back of the Maple Leafs for the final playoff spot, they hopefully wouldn’t have rushed Ekblad back at all.
As Matt Larkin of The Hockey News wrote a week ago, the Panthers have to play this carefully or risk Ekblad’s career before it has even truly begun. The 21-year old looks like he will be a force in the game for a very long time, but has now already suffered multiple concussions early on. In comparing him to Eric Lindros, who suffered several head blows within a short time frame, Larkin pleaded with the Panthers to shut him down for the rest of the season to make sure he wasn’t at risk. None of this is to say that the Panthers medical staff is mistreating the situation, but with just 11 games left and four teams between them and a playoff spot, it does seem a bit unnecessary to bring him back at all. Here’s hoping for some continued health for one of the game’s brightest young stars.
- With Ekblad returning, the Panthers have sent MacKenzie Weegar back down to the Springfield Thunderbirds of the AHL. Weegar never did actually get into a game, with Florida playing Jakub Kindl in the vacant defense position. Weegar will return to the Thunderbirds where he was having an excellent season, scoring 12 goals and 29 points in 51 games.
- The Detroit Red Wings have called up Ben Street on emergency basis after last night’s loss to the Buffalo Sabres. Detroit lost Darren Helm to an injury on Saturday, though perhaps someone else suffered a minor wound last night. The 30-year old Street is having another excellent season at the AHL level, with 51 points in 57 games this year. The undrafted forward has found much success at the lower level since starting his pro career in 2010, though has only seen an NHL contest 29 times. Held to just two points in those games, he’ll look to make an impact with this chance.
- Steve Ott will draw back into the lineup for the Montreal Canadiens tonight, meaning oft-scratched Michael McCarron will be back in the press box according to Renaud Levoie of TVA Sports. The former first-round pick has played just 26 games for the Canadiens this season, registering five points in less than 10 minutes per night. The 22-year old can’t seem to impress either coaching staff enough to stay in the lineup, despite bringing a physical presence. In 32 games in the AHL this year, McCarron has 19 points.