New York Islanders head coach Lane Lambert issued an update on his team’s star forward, Mathew Barzal, who has been out since the middle of February with a lower-body injury. As relayed by Newsday’s Andrew Gross, Lambert said that Barzal has not yet resumed skating, indicating that he is still a ways away from making his return to the Islanders’ lineup.
While a 7-2-1 run in their last ten games has gone a long way to put the Islanders in pole position for an Eastern Conference Wild Card spot, the Islanders remain a team below their full capabilities with Barzal out of the lineup. Despite facing some significant criticism in recent years due to the fact that he has not yet seen his numbers reach the heights they saw in his Calder Trophy-winning rookie year, Barzal remains the Islanders’ most talented forward and the skater on their roster most capable of taking over a game. He’s scored 51 points in 58 games this season, and his return would give the Islanders a major boost as they look towards a likely first-round matchup where they’ll be a significant underdog.
- Devon Levi, one of the game’s top goalie prospects, was on the ice today for Buffalo Sabres practice according to The Buffalo News’ Lance Lysowski. The former Northeastern Husky earned a three-year entry-level deal jam-packed with performance bonuses and remains on the Sabres’ active roster. While it’s not officially clear whether Buffalo plans on getting Levi some NHL action over the course of the rest of this season, his presence with the team and on their roster, rather than with the AHL’s Rochester Americans, indicates that the team could be leaning towards giving Levi a chance against NHL competition.
- Veteran Columbus Blue Jackets center Sean Kuraly is returning to the lineup for his club’s game tonight against the New York Islanders. As team reporter Jeff Svoboda notes, Kuraly was originally projected to miss the rest of the season with the oblique strain he suffered on March 2nd, but he now returns with a full 12 games left on the schedule. The longtime bottom-sixer has scored 10 goals and 17 points for the Blue Jackets this season, providing valuable grit and veteran leadership to a young Blue Jackets team.