Buffalo Sabres forward Paul Gaustad could return to the lineup as early as tomorrow night when the Washington Capitals travel to HSBC Arena.
Gaustad practiced alongside Ales Kotalik and Adam Mair today after missing the last five contests with an upper body injury.
Head Coach Lindy Ruff said the centerman will be evaluated later today to see if he is able to dress for the match-up.
"I'm getting close," Gaustad said. It's something where everybody has to discuss it and see what they say this [injury] is and go from there.
"I want to get back on the ice as quickly and safely as possible."
Gaustad previously missed the first nine games of the 2008-09 season after undergoing surgery to repair ligaments in his thumb. He has registered three goals, seven points and 26 penalty minutes through 22 games this year.
Captain Craig Rivet's status remains unclear. The Sabres' captain was reevaluated this weekend after missing two weeks with a shoulder injury.
"We are going to take that day-to-day for now," Ruff said.
Rivet has missed the last eight games after pain in his shoulder flared up Dec. 12.
[upper body] and Tim Connolly [rib] also practiced with the team.
Nathan is close," Ruff said. "Tim Connolly is a ways away. I won’t put a date on it but I wouldn’t say near future."
Gerbe suffered an upper body injury Dec. 13 in a 4-2 win against the New Jersey Devils while Tim Connolly has not played since Nov. 14 with a broken rib after taking a hit hard from St. Louis Blues’ forward Keith Tkachuk.
Lindy Ruff on what he remembers from the 2008 Winter Classic, and his thoughts on this year's event to be played Jan. 1 as the Chicago Blackhawks take on the Detroit Red Wings.
"The atmosphere was tremendous, coupled with the fact that we got a little bit of snow - actually we got a lot of snow - it made the atmosphere more special... I've never been [to Wrigley Field]. It's a place I would like to go to sometime... but I would like to go for a baseball game."
Sabres winger Drew Stafford
made his second appearance with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Irish Tenor Ronan Tynan this weekend.
Stafford performed one song, playing guitar for "Whiskey In A Jar" on Sunday night at HSBC Arena.
To see a video of last year's performance, click on the video below: