Devils forward Tyce Thompson rejoined his teammates for practice Wednesday afternoon for the first time since suffering an undisclosed injury. His status is still unknown for Friday's season opener against Chicago at Prudential Center.
"It was awesome," Thompson said of returning to practice. "You never want to not be skating with the guys and doing all the rehab stuff. It's fun to be out there with the team again.
"It's not a major injury. It definitely could have been worse. This is going to take a little bit of time. You can't rush it in terms of return to play. But I feel good. I felt good out there today. I'm definitely trending in the right direction."
Video: Tyce Thompson | PRACTICE RAW 10.13.21
Though it was only a single practice, the coaching staff was pleased with what they saw from the young forward.
"I thought he looked good. His first practice, obviously. He got through it great," head coach Lindy Ruff said. "Really just wanted to see him get through practice and how he felt, how the rehab has gone. He's near to getting back in the lineup."
Thompson, who added 13 pounds of muscle since last season, is a perfect fit for a physical, net-front type of role with the team. He's also trying to work his way onto the team's PK unit.
Thompson, 22, had been working on the team's fourth line in camp with Michael McLeod and Jimmy Vesey before suffering the injury. In his lone preseason game, Oct. 1 vs. NY Rangers, Thompson posted a goal, right at the crease, and plus-2 in a 7-1 victory.
"It was definitely frustrating," Thompson said of the injury timing. "I thought I was doing well at camp. That game especially, I felt I played strong. I was hoping to get a few more games in in preseason to show myself a little bit more and make the team. When that happens it's frustrating, but that's life. It's hockey. It's going to happen."
Thompson did most of his reps at forward, but he did do some spot duty on defense for a 6-on-5 drill. Though the move was just to get him some more on-ice reps and the club needed an extra body. Not that Thompson was complaining.
"It was different," Thompson said. "I was just happy to be out there."