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Training camp preview: Injured players returning in Eastern Conference

Guentzel, Hamilton, Kreider look to make impact in Cup Qualifiers

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

With training camps set to begin on July 13 as part of Phase 3 of the NHL Return to Play Plan, NHL.com is taking a closer look at key storylines for each of the 24 teams in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers. 

The Qualifiers will start on Aug. 1 with the top four teams in each conference, based on points percentage, playing a three-game round-robin, and the No. 5-12 seeds playing in eight best-of-5 series. The winners of those series will advance to the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the four teams from the round-robin.

Today, we look at the top players (listed alphabetically) from the Eastern Conference who were injured before the season was paused on March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus and could return to make an impact in the Qualifiers.  

 

[RELATED: Training camp preview: Injured players returning in Western Conference]

 

Cam Atkinson, F, Columbus Blue Jackets -- Scored 26 points (12 goals, 14 assists) in 44 games but did not play after Feb. 8 because of an ankle injury. Atkinson led the Blue Jackets with an NHL career-high 41 goals last season.

Oliver Bjorkstrand, F, Columbus Blue Jackets -- Bjorkstrand, who had ankle surgery March 3, scored 36 points (21 goals, 15 assists) in 49 games, matching his output from last season, when he played 77 games. 

Sergei Bobrovsky, G, Florida Panthers -- Bobrovsky, in the first of a seven-year contract with the Panthers, missed the final four games before the pause because of a lower-body injury sustained on Feb. 29. A two-time Vezina Trophy winner, (2013, 2017), he helped the Blue Jackets stun the Tampa Bay Lightning during a four-game sweep in the 2019 Eastern Conference First Round.

Video: FLA@TOR: Bobrovsky robs Engvall on the rush

Brian Boyle, C, Florida Panthers -- Boyle has not played since sustaining an upper-body injury on Feb. 1; the 35-year-old scored 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in 39 games this season and has 114 games of Stanley Cup Playoff experience on his resume. 

Casey Cizikas, C, New York Islanders -- One of New York's top penalty killers, Cizikas missed the last 13 games before the pause with a lacerated left leg.

Jonathan Drouin, F, Montreal Canadiens -- Was limited to 27 games during the regular season and scored 15 points (seven goals, eight assists). Drouin missed the last six games before the pause after he sustained an ankle injury Feb. 25.

Jake Guentzel, F, Pittsburgh Penguins -- Had shoulder surgery Dec. 31 but is aiming to be ready to play. Guentzel scored 43 points (20 goals, 23 assists) in 39 games and led the Penguins with 40 goals last season.

Video: OTT@PIT: Malkin sets up Guentzel's 200th NHL point

Dougie Hamilton, D, Carolina Hurricanes -- Missed the last 21 games before the pause because of a fractured left fibula. Hamilton scored 40 points (14 goals, 26 assists) and averaged 23:17 of ice time over 47 games.

Seth Jones, D, Columbus Blue Jackets -- Jones was the Blue Jackets' leader in ice time per game (25:17) before having ankle surgery Feb. 11. He scored 30 points (six goals, 24 assists) and had a plus-10 rating in 56 games. 

Chris Kreider, F, New York Rangers -- Kreider, who missed the final six games before the pause with a fractured foot, became a 20-goal scorer for the fifth time in his NHL career; he scored 45 points (24 goals, 21 assists) in 63 games.

Torey Krug, D, Boston Bruins -- Missed the Bruins' last game before the pause because of an upper-body injury but declared himself healthy in April. Krug was eighth among NHL defensemen this season with 49 points (nine goals, 40 assists) in 61 games. He also led all defensemen with 28 power-play points (two goals, 26 assists).

Ilya Mikheyev, F, Toronto Maple Leafs -- Scored 23 points (eight goals, 15 assists) in 39 games but needed surgery on an artery and tendons in his right wrist that were severed on Dec. 27. 

Jake Muzzin, D, Toronto Maple Leafs -- Was third on the Maple Leafs in average ice time (21:36) and scored 23 points (six goals, 17 assists) and had a plus-12 rating in 53 games before he broke his right hand Feb. 25.  

Video: TOR@TBL: Muzzin hammers slap shot past Vasilevskiy

Adam Pelech, D, New York Islanders -- Healthy after injuring his Achilles prior to a game against the New Jersey Devils on Jan. 2. At the time of the injury, Pelech, a top-pair defenseman who averaged 21:08 of ice time, was expected to be out four months.

Steven Stamkos, F, Tampa Bay Lightning -- Stamkos was second on the Lightning with 66 points (29 goals, 37 assists) in 57 games before having core muscle surgery March 2; he was expected to be out 6-8 weeks. He sustained a lower-body injury in Phase 2, and though he may be limited in camp, he is expected to be ready for the Qualifiers.

Tomas Tatar, F, Montreal Canadiens -- Scored an NHL career high 61 points (22 goals, 39 assists) in 68 games before sustaining a shoulder injury March 3. Tatar is expected to be ready for the start of the Qualifiers.

James van Riemsdyk, F, Philadelphia Flyers -- Scored 40 points (19 goals, 21 assists) in 66 games but missed the last three before the pause because of a broken finger. 

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