VANCOUVER -- When Manny Malhotra joined his teammates in practice for the first time on May 12, Canucks associate coach Rick Bowness said it would take a "complete miracle" for the center to return to game action.
On Friday morning GM Mike Gillis confirmed the 30-year-old has been cleared for light contact.
"This is the natural progression without any sideways or backwards movement," Gillis said. "He's progressed really well, but there's a time frame in all of this where it isn't about progressing, it's just stability over time, and he's gone through that now and everything looks really good."
Malhotra last played March 16, when he was hit in the left eye by a puck. He has already undergone two surgeries on the eye and is supposed to have one more, but Gillis told the media this morning that the final procedure is not necessary for Malhotra to resume playing.
Malhotra was on the ice this morning, with his teammates, still sporting a full visor.
Soon after the injury the team issued a statement saying Malhotra was done for the season; however, Gillis admitted things have changed.
"There was a number of reasons behind that, one is privacy issues, he had a severe injury and he's done remarkably well (since)," he said. "He's come through major surgery and we were told all the downsides, and he hasn't experienced any of it."
Gillis also said there is no timetable for Malhotra's return to the team's lineup and the Canucks did not make him available to speak to the media today.
"I think the doctors need to be comfortable where he is stable, his eye is stable and absolutely no further damage could ever occur by him playing hockey," Gillis said.
Malhotra had 11 goals and 30 points in 72 games while centering the Canucks' third line.