The long-awaited wait for the return of defenseman Stephen Johns, who hasn’t appeared in 22 months due to post-traumatic headaches, is finally here. SportsDay’s Matthew DeFranks reports that John has been activated and is expected to play Saturday against the Minnesota Wild. To make room for the blueliner, Dallas has placed center Radek Faksa on injured reserve.
“For 22 months this is the day I’ve looked forward to every second of every day,” said Johns earlier today (via The Athletic’s Sean Shapiro).
The 27-year-old Johns hasn’t played in a game since March 29, 2018, and many wondered if he’d ever return to the ice. However, the blueliner began skating several months ago and finally was cleared to play recently. He was assigned to the Texas Stars of the AHL on a conditioning stint where he played two games for them, picking up a goal and three assists and looks to be ready to return to action. He is expected to be paired with Andrej Sekera on the team’s third pairing.
Johns should provide the team with significant defensive depth as his 6-foot-4 frame and physical play should only help the Stars down the road. Johns played 75 games for the Stars back in the 2017-18 season with eight goals, 15 points, 155 blocked shots and 201 hits. The team also is thrilled to see him return after star defenseman Miro Heiskanen went down in the second-half of Thursday’s game against Buffalo and is considered day-to-day as he is in concussion protocol.
Faksa is considered day-to-day with a lower-body injury and is not expected to play Saturday, their last day before the all-star break the team has. With the next game not being until Jan. 27, the team can activate him then with just one game missed.