The Edmonton Oilers have gotten a boost on defense. The team announced they have swapped roster players. The Oilers have activated defenseman Kris Russell from long-term injured reserve, while placing forward Joakim Nygard on IR as well. Russell’s return is well-timed after the team lost Mike Green for an extended period.
The 32-year-old Russell has been out since Jan. 29 with a concussion, but finally appears ready to return to the team’s defense. Russell is expected to step in as a third-pairing defender Saturday. He has appeared in 49 games with eight assists and 93 blocked shots. Nygard has been out of the lineup since Jan. 29 with a broken hand, but the team didn’t place him onto IR until now. He is not expected back until late March.
- The Athletic’s Jesse Granger (subscription required) looks into the possibility of whether the Vegas Golden Knights could find a way to keep goaltender Robin Lehner, an unrestricted free agent this summer, in the future. With the estimation of a six-year, $6MM AAV contract as a potential contract for Lehner, Granger notes that it is possible to keep both Lehner and veteran Marc-Andre Fleury, who still has two years remaining at $7MM AAV. However, it would put the team in a very tight cap situation and investing $13MM in goalies doesn’t make much sense. However, the scribe did admit it is possible that the team could conceivably attempt to trade someone like Paul Stastny, who would be in the final year at $6.5MM. Either way, the Golden Knights will have to make some tough decisions this summer.
- The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz reports that San Jose Sharks forward Timo Meier is seriously considering playing at the World Championships that will be held in Switzerland. The 23-year-old from Switzerland said he hasn’t given it any real thought yet, but admits it would be a great opportunity to play in front of his own country. Meier did play for the Swiss back in 2018 when they took a silver medal.
- Recently acquired forward David Backes hopes to get into an Anaheim Ducks game soon, perhaps even Sunday against the New Jersey Devils, according to OC Register’s Eliott Teaford. The 35-year-old was acquired a few days before the trade deadline that saw forward Ondrej Kase headed to Boston for Backes, a 2020 first-round pick and a prospect. Backes, however, has not appeared in an NHL games since Jan. 9, and has spent his time this week getting back into game shape. “I’ve probably reached a saturation point where it’s been just me and a coach out there being in a practice situation,” Backes said. “I’ve done a lot of that, so now it’s bumping and grinding and timing and angles. When you haven’t played in two months, it’s going to be a process. But I’m excited to start that process, hopefully, sooner than later.”