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Ryan Callahan begins on-ice rehab

Two and a half months removed from shoulder surgery, Callahan joined several teammates for an informal workout today in Brandon

by Bryan Burns / TampaBayLightning.com

With Tampa Bay Lightning training camp less than a month away, players have started trickling into the Bolts' practice facility at the Ice Sports Forum for voluntary, informal workouts.

Nikita Kucherov was the first to arrive - he never really left -- working on the ice with former 2004 Stanley Cup champion and skills instructor Dmitry Afanasenkov and joined last week by goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Defensemen Braydon Coburn and Dan Girardi accompanied the group on Monday. Ryan Callahan had an off-ice session at the Ice Sports Forum Tuesday before getting on the ice Wednesday.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Despite having surgery on his right shoulder May 31, Callahan is already on the ice, skating, stickhandling and preparing earnestly for the start of the season. The 33-year-old right winger was projected to be sidelined five months following surgery, which would have him ready for a return to game action in early November, and Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said he didn't expect Callahan to be ready for the start of training camp.

But, as we've come to learn, injury timetables are merely a suggestion for the unsinkable Ryan Callahan.

"It's good to get back on the ice," Callahan said following Wednesday's workout. "Shoulder felt good. Everything that I did out there - obviously no shooting yet - doing some stickhandling, working on the skating, everything went well."

Video: Ryan Callahan on offseason surgery

Callahan said he's still on course to return in November, meaning he'll likely miss the first month of the regular season.

"Rehab this first 11 weeks here have gone great," he said. "Everything feels really good. It's where it should be at the 11-week mark. It's right where it needs to be."

Callahan initially sustained the injury to his right shoulder after being dragged down awkwardly by Arizona's Oliver Ekman-Larsson and crashing into the boards chasing a puck behind the Coyotes' goal. Callahan sat out the next eight games before returning. He missed five games in late March and another two in a First Round series victory over New Jersey after re-injuring the shoulder, but he shook off the pain to play a pivotal role in Tampa Bay's march to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final, contributing two goals and an assist in the playoffs and providing a physical, hard-nosed presence despite the injury.

It should come as no surprise Callahan is back skating so soon following surgery. After all, he's the player that famously returned to the Lightning lineup five days after having an emergency appendectomy during the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"We kind of know what type of guy he is. We knew he was going to be out here," said Girardi, who has played with Callahan in nine of his 12 seasons in the NHL. "Even if he can't shoot right now, he's at least working on his stickhandling and doing all the footwork and skating. It's good to see him out here for sure."

Callahan had offseason surgery for the third time in the last four years. In the summers of 2015 and 2016, he went under the knife to correct an issue with his right hip.

"It's always stressful, frustrating when you're rehabbing in the summer and not being able to train the way you want to, especially in my case where these last two summers -- not the last one but the one before that -- I was rehabbing my hip," he said. "You kind of get used to it unfortunately and you realize it's part of the game and there's going to be injuries and there's going to be rehab. But it's definitely frustrating not being able to have your full summer training like you'd like."

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