Jets forward Gabriel Vilardi is nearing a return to action from an MCL sprain that’s cost him the last 14 games. Associate coach Scott Arniel said today that Vilardi will travel with the team on their upcoming three-game road swing through Tampa Bay, Florida and Nashville and is an option to play during the trip.
The 24-year-old has played in just two full games this season, sustaining the injury early in the team’s third contest of the year against his former team, the Kings, on October 17. Vilardi was the main aspect of the trade return from Los Angeles in exchange for center Pierre-Luc Dubois this summer. After a strong camp, Vilardi had earned himself a spot in the team’s top six, registering an assist through his first two contests while playing over 20 minutes per game. A first-round pick of the Kings in 2017, injuries have largely delayed Vilardi’s development, but he still managed a career-high 23 goals and 41 points in 63 games last season. He remains on injured reserve, and the Jets will need to open a spot on the 23-man roster to activate him.
Other notes out of the Western Conference to open the holiday week:
- Stars defenseman Thomas Harley will remain out of the lineup tonight when they host the Rangers, Brien Rea of Bally Sports Southwest reports. The 22-year-old is sidelined with an upper-body injury sustained November 12 against the Wild on a hit from forward Brandon Duhaime and is listed as day-to-day. This will be Harley’s third straight absence after playing in 14 straight games to start the season. The team’s 2019 first-round pick is looking quite at home in the NHL, posting five points and a +2 rating while averaging 17:24 per game.
- After getting Jacob MacDonald back in the fold earlier today, another injured Sharks veteran is on the precipice of a return to the lineup. Sheng Peng of San Jose Hockey Now reports defenseman Matt Benning could come off IR before Wednesday’s game against the Kraken. Benning will miss his ninth straight contest tonight against Vancouver with an undisclosed injury. The 29-year-old has played in eight games this season, recording an assist and a -6 rating in 18:29 of average ice time.