Dalton Prout delivered some good news this morning after his medicals and fitness testing: he's close to being cleared to play and rejoin his teammates.
Following an abdominal injury suffered in late-season workouts, team doctors didn't think Prout would be able to return to action until after the regular season began. But somewhere on the road to recovery, Prout got ahead of schedule and looks to be on the cusp of joining practice once again.
TRAINING CAMP CENTRAL
Prout said he's hopeful to be cleared sometime next week and wants to play in two exhibition games before jumping into regular season action. If all goes according to plan, that could be a legitimate possibility.
"That's the goal, to maybe get in a couple (preseason games) towards the end and get ready for the season," Prout said. "I saw the doctor today, and I'm just short of getting cleared to play...maybe within a week. There's still a protocol with the injury and a little bit of rehab to do. We're taking steps in the right direction."
The good news started just a couple of weeks after surgery when Prout took the ice by himself and started to work himself back into shape. Earlier this week, he took part in some light scrimmaging with most of his teammates at Nationwide Arena and felt good.
Prout said he will skate with Blue Jackets strength coaches in a one-on-one setting early in training camp, with the goal being to get into full team skates shortly thereafter.
"You never want to get injured, but it was at an ideal time just because my body was healed from the season and I was in shape in the middle of the summer," Prout said. "My body was in an optimal spot to recover as fast as it did."
It's cliche to say any season is important for a particular player, but Prout is anxious to build upon a strong rookie campaign in which he solidified himself among the Blue Jackets' top six defensemen. He led the team in plus/minus and was a physical presence for the team down the stretch.
"It's key to stay in the moment," Prout said. "You can't look ahead and you can't look at what was done...you have to appreciate your spot and take nothing for granted. You have to treat everyday as if you might not be here the next."