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Rantanen Close to Returning to Lineup

Head coach Jared Bednar gives an update on the forward and the Avalanche's other injuries

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab / ColoradoAvalanche.com

CENTENNIAL, Colo.--Colorado Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen was a non-contact participant at Monday's practice and could be available for the club as soon as Wednesday when it hosts the Edmonton Oilers at Pepsi Center. 

Rantanen took part in the entire 45-minute session at Family Sports Center wearing a red, no-touch jersey but also saw some small contact during the drills. He has been out for the Avs' last 14 games with a lower-body injury that he suffered on Oct. 21 at the St. Louis Blues. 

"Good practice today, really good," said Colorado head coach Jared Bednar of the Finnish right wing. "Wore a red jersey but got dumped a couple times and took some hits. Some accidental, some that looked like they were on purpose, and he's feeling good after the practice. That is his first team practice, non-contact/partial contact. He's going to be in a couple more of those before he plays, so he's doubtful for [Wednesday]. There is a possibility that we see him over the weekend, if we get a few more practices like that, which we will this week." 

Bednar later elaborated on Rantanen's condition and noted that if the player feels good enough to be effective in a game, then he'll support a decision for him to skate against the Oilers, who beat the Avs 6-2 less than two weeks ago on Nov. 14 in Edmonton. If Rantanen needs a few more practices, then Bednar is fine giving him that before he returns. 

"Obviously I want him in, but I want to put him in a place to succeed and where he's comfortable," Bednar said. "I don't want him wading into the game and being unsure. So if that means it takes until the weekend, but if he comes to me and says 'listen, I want to play, and I'm ready to go,' and even if his conditioning might not be where it needs to be because of the limitations that have been on him, Mikko at 14-15 minutes a night is still a good Mikko."

Rantanen is coming off a career season in 2018-19 where he produced personal highs with 31 goals, 56 assists and 87 points in 74 regular-season outings and registered 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in 12 Stanley Cup Playoff games. 

Through nine contests this year, Rantanen has 12 points (five goals, seven assists), which still ranks tied for sixth on the team in scoring despite him missing a month of action. 

"It's great to have Mikko back, not full go yet, but it's great to have him back out with the guys," said teammate Ian Cole. "He took a hard spill there and got up smiling, so that is always good to see. You never know how that is going to go. It's great to have him back, he's a huge piece of our team. We're missing some huge pieces of our team right now, and we just have to continue to move forward."

MORE INJURY UPDATES 

In addition to Rantanen, Bednar gave an update on four other players that didn't practice on Monday. 

Erik Johnson is sore and is day-to-day after a collision into the boards on Saturday following a cross-check by the Toronto Maple Leafs' Alexander Kerfoot, who was suspended two games by the NHL Department of Player Safety on Monday for his actions on the play. Bednar said Johnson is a possibility to practice on Tuesday and is questionable for Wednesday.

"I didn't like the hit at all. It's numbers all the way, and when he gives him the shot, it's in the upper back, which knocks him off balance and he's in a real dangerous distance from the boards," Bednar said. "I think E.J., as funny as it sounds, I think we're lucky he's not really hurt after that one because he goes in hard and he goes in awkward, and you're not expecting it as a player." 

Video: Avs head coach Jared Bednar gives injury updates

Gabriel Landeskog has been out for the past 12 games with a lower-body injury and had a follow-up visit with the team's doctor on Monday.

"Hopefully that goes well and he can start to progress, but we'll wait on the doctor's information. We should know more tomorrow," Bednar said of the Avs captain's status.

Colin Wilson has also missed 12 games with a lower-body injury suffered at practice on Oct. 29. He skated by himself before Monday's practice in a red, non-contact jersey but didn't partake in the team session.

"Nothing new to report," Bednar said of Wilson's status. "He's had some good days, he's had some bad days. Not close."

Matt Calvert suffered a head injury when he was struck by a puck in the final minutes of the Nov. 16 game at the Vancouver Canucks. Calvert returned to Denver the following day and has slowly progressed, but he hasn't returned to skating yet.

"Good days and bad days. Took a step forward today after not feeling great on Sunday. So no new news on him either," Bednar said of Calvert. "He's in (concussion) protocol and waiting to see how fast and quickly he works with that."

JOST RETURNS

Tyson Jost was doubtful to play in Saturday's contest versus Toronto, but the forward was able to return to the lineup after being out for the previous four games with an upper-body injury. The St. Albert, Alberta, native got hurt against his hometown Oilers on Nov. 14.

Versus the Leafs, Jost had three shots on goal and one hit in 10:44 of ice time, mostly spent on the team's fourth line.

"It's never fun when you're out of the lineup and sitting there watching. It was good," Jost said. "I thought the first period took me a little bit to get used to things again. When you're out with an injury, it's always difficult to come back, but second and third I felt good. It would have been nice if we got the win, but it was a fun game and it's nice to be around the guys again and back in the lineup."

Video: Jost talks about his health following practice

PRACTICE LINE COMBINATIONS

95 Andre Burakovsky - 29 Nathan MacKinnon - 72 Joonas Donskoi
83 Matt Nieto - 91 Nazem Kadri - 37 J.T. Compher
17 Tyson Jost - 41 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - 13 Valeri Nichushkin
36 T.J. Tynan - 81 Vladislav Kamenev - 25 Logan O'Connor - 96 Mikko Rantanen *

Defensemen
49 Samuel Girard - 8 Cale Makar
16 Nikita Zadorov - 28 Ian Cole
27 Ryan Graves - 44 Mark Barberio
48 Calle Rosen

Goaltenders
31 Philipp Grubauer
39 Pavel Francouz

* Non-contact participant

Did Not Practice: Erik Johnson (maintenance), Matt Calvert (head), Gabriel Landeskog (lower body), Colin Wilson (lower body)

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