NEW YORK -- Carolina Hurricanes center Jordan Staal is getting close to being 100 percent and is expected to make his season debut shortly after the holiday break, Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said Sunday.
Staal sustained a broken right fibula during a preseason game Sept. 23 at the Buffalo Sabres
. He is on injured reserve and missed his 33rd consecutive game Sunday. He was expected to miss between 3-4 months.
Peters said Staal could make his season debut Dec. 29 against the Montreal Canadiens at PNC Arena, and that Staal definitely would not play Tuesday against the New Jersey Devils or Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
"We've got a date targeted, obviously, and don't be surprised if it's at home against Montreal," Peters said.
Peters said Staal looks like he's ready and itching to play during Carolina's practices, but he only recently started doing contact drills so the Hurricanes want to test him in those before they feel comfortable putting him in a game.
"We'll continue to ramp that up as we go and when he gets into the lineup he should be 100 percent," Peters said. "When you're coming off an injury that severe you've got the mental hurdle. Once he clears that mental hurdle he'll be back."
Peters said he thinks coming back soon after the holiday break will make for good timing for Staal because the rest of the players in the League will also be coming back after spending three days off.
"It'll take people a little bit of time to get going again," Peters said. "Not much, but a little bit of time because that's human nature when you take three days off in a row and celebrate the holidays. That'll be good timing for him and good timing for us. It'll allow us to move some guys around in the lineup."