National Hockey League
TORONTO — The Islanders took a step closer to health on Sunday, placing long-term injured Ryan Pulock from long-term injured reserve ahead of his return in the All-Star break against the Maple Leafs. recall.
Pulock suffered a lower-body injury against the Blue Jackets on Dec. 7 and had missed the past 24 games before participating in Sunday’s practice.
If he returns to Toronto on Monday, he’ll be headed to a blueline in need of help as injuries have hampered the team all season.
Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello told reporters in New York on Sunday that Pulock and Adam Pelleher (upper body) are both considered game-decisions for Monday’s game against the Maple Leafs.
Pulock and Pelech skated together in practice.
“I feel good,” Pulock told reporters. “I think it will be a discussion with the coach [whether to play Monday]. I feel good and I’ve been working hard to get ready for this and get ready to come back. Trying to help the team win and keep pushing into the playoffs here, trying to get ourselves into the playoffs. “
To free up Pulock’s $6.15 million salary from LTIR, the Islanders moved Casey Cizikas (upper body) and Roberto Bortuzzo (lower body) to long-term injured reserve.
That puts them $3.45 million over the salary cap.
For Cizikas and Bortuzzo, the LTIR designation is unlikely to impact their schedules.
Bortuzzo has already missed the mandatory minimum of 24 days and 10 games, while Cizikas will reach the 10-game benchmark on Monday.
However, both are on the road to full health. Cizikas practiced with the team in New York on Sunday wearing a non-contact jersey. Bortuzzo has started skating on his own.
Pelech is being called every day and suffered a presumed head injury 10 days ago in Montreal after receiving an illegal elbow from Brendan Gallagher.
His return along with Pulock will allow Noah Dobson and Alexander Romanov to lighten their workloads, with Dobson averaging 25:59 a night and Romanov not far behind at 22:28. , there are other benefits.
“If we reduce the ice time to 20, 25 minutes and then increase those times [of Pelech and Pulock]I think it will be better,” Islanders coach Patrick Roy told reporters Sunday. “I think they won’t be as tired on the ice, and I think that will help our team a lot.
“It’s great that Noah and Romy are getting a lot of ice time, and I think it’s going to help their development. But now that those two are back and playing against the top line, I think it’s going to make our team a lot better. better.”
On the back end, Pelech, Pulock, Bortuzzo, Scott Mayfield and Sebastian Aho have all suffered multiple injuries this season, and the Islanders have used just eight openers this year. The lineup is plagued by injuries.
If there is now a light at the end of the tunnel, that is very welcome.
Once fully healthy, the Islanders will need to do some salary cap gymnastics.
Julien Gauthier already became expendable when the Islanders waived him during the All-Star break, officially sending the winger to the trade on Saturday AHL Bridgeport.
Simon Holmstrom was also sent to Bridgeport at halftime for salary cap reasons, but he was recalled before Sunday’s practice.
However, such a move would be a small price to pay if it meant the band getting back together.
“I think Ryan is a little rusty, which is normal, but he’s been working his way back into the lineup, so I’m happy with the way he’s training,” Roy said. “Since I got here until he got hurt against Montreal, he was one of our best defensemen, if not our best ‘D’. I’m very happy with him. They’re two good veterans. , is also a very important player in our team.”