The NHL season has been paused since March 12 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
A likely outcome for many teams if the season resumes is the return of players who were injured before the season was paused, drastically impacting the playoff push.
For example, Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos and St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko will now be ready to take part in the 2019-20 season if it resumes after both underwent major surgeries.
Here’s a player from each team that could impact each team’s finish to the season.
Cam Fowler, D
Anaheim’s blue line was banged up before the pause in the season with Fowler, Erik Gudbranson and Hampus Lindholm all injured.
Fowler suffered a lower-body injury Feb. 17 against Calgary. On March 7, Ducks general manager Bob Murray told The Athletic that Fowler wanted to play, but they were going to be careful bringing him back into the fold.
He is the Ducks’ most productive defenseman this season with 29 points.
Honorable Mention: Erik Gudbranson, D
Jakob Chychrun, D
Chychrun has been the Coyotes’ most consistent defenseman this season with 26 points as he was on pace to set his career-high in games played in a season.
However, the injury bug hit Chychrun after he was ruled out with a lower-body injury. He last played on Feb. 19 against the Dallas Stars.
Chychrun was labeled as week-to-week but is likely to return when the season resumes as Arizona currently sits four points back of a playoff spot.
Honorable Mention: Conor Garland, F
Torey Krug, D
Krug suffered an upper-body injury after playing on March 7 against the Tampa Bay Lightning, a game in which he notched his fifth-straight 40-assist season in the game.
Boston listed him day-to-day as he missed the next game against the Philadelphia Flyers on March 10 before the season was paused. Krug is an integral part of Boston’s power-play totaling 28 points (two goals, 26 assists), making him the league-leader among NHL defensemen.
Honorable Mention: Brandon Carlo, D
Lawrence Pilut, D
Pilut was ruled out of the Sabres’ final game before the pausing of the season due to illness, so he should be back when the season resumes. The 24-year-old has played in 13 games this season for the Sabres.
The other three players on Buffalo’s injury report, forwards Tage Thompson and Vladimir Sobotka and defenseman Matt Hunwick, have all been ruled out for the season.
Travis Hamonic, D
Injured since Feb. 8, Hamonic has been rehabbing with an undisclosed injury. According to Sportsnet 960’s Pat Steinberg, Hamonic practiced for the first time on March 7 since suffering the injury.
Hamonic also told the media on March 10 that he was hoping to return to the lineup on March 12, the day the NHL season was paused.
Before getting injured, Hamonic had 12 points in 50 games and had a Corsi Against rating of 100 with Mark Giordano, the seventh-best defensive pairing on the Flames this season, according to Natural Stat Trick.
Honorable Mention: Noah Hanifin, D
Dougie Hamilton, D
Hamilton was having a Norris Trophy-type season before going down with a fractured fibula on Jan. 16. The team was hopeful for an early-April return, but with the season on the pause, Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour told reporters that he could be back if the season resumes.
The 26-year-old defenseman posted 40 points in 47 games and was closing in on his career-high total of 50 points set in 2016-17 with the Calgary Flames.
Hamilton coupled with the addition of Sami Vatanen, who has yet to play a game with Carolina, could propel the Hurricanes to a return to the Stanley Cup playoffs as they sit right on the bubble.
Honorable Mention: Sami Vatanen, D
Adam Boqvist, D
The rookie defenseman suffered a concussion on March 8 against the St. Louis Blues after taking a hit from Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist.
Chicago’s 2018 first-round pick has tallied 13 points (four goals, nine assists) this season with a Corsi percentage of 47.4 percent, ranking sixth among the team’s defensemen.
If recovered, Boqvist will aid a thin Chicago blue line with Calvin de Haan and Brent Seabrook out for the season.
Honorable Mention: Drake Caggiula, F
Mikko Rantanen, F
Nathan MacKinnon could have been the choice here, but he was scheduled to be out one-to-two weeks after suffering a lower-body injury on March 9.
Rantanen has been out of the lineup since Feb. 17 with an upper-body injury. Head coach Jared Bednar told reporters on March 11 that 23-year-old winger could return on the team’s homestand running through March 17.
The former first-round pick was recovering from his second major injury after missing 16 games earlier this season with a lower-body injury. Despite all the injuries, Rantanen has posted 41 points in 42 games this season.
Honorable Mention: Nathan MacKinnon, F
Columbus Blue Jackets
Seth Jones, D
Jones was expected to be out for the season after undergoing surgery to repair a fractured ankle on Feb. 11 . The timeline given was eight to 10 weeks.
Now, it’s possible for Columbus to get one of their best defensemen back in the fold for their playoff push. At the time of the season getting paused, the Blue Jackets sat in the Eastern Conference’s second Wild Card spot.
Jones has the team’s second-best Corsi percentage (14.5) and would reunite one of the best defensive pairings in the league with Zach Werenski.
Honorable Mention: Oliver Bjorkstrand, F
Alexander Radulov, F
Radulov was the lone Star on the latest injury report after being listed with an illness. According to the team, Radulov was tested for the coronavirus (COVID-19) with results coming back negative.
He last played on March 5 against Nashville before missing the team’s final two games before the season’s pause. The 33-year-old winger ranks fourth on the team with 34 points (15 goals, 19 assists).
Detroit Red Wings
Filip Zadina, F
Just like Seth Jones, Zadina was out long-term with a fractured ankle. The 2018 first-round pick was in the middle of his first full NHL season having last played Feb. 1.
According to MLive.com’s Ansar Khan on March 11, Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill said he was hopeful he would return the following week.
In what is a lost season, Detroit would love to get Zadina back to get him more NHL experience before entering his third season. In 28 games this season, Zadina posted 15 points (eight goals, seven assists).
Honorable Mention: Justin Abdelkader, F
Mike Green, D
After playing in just two games with the Oilers on Feb. 25-26, Green suffered a sprained MCL causing him to miss three-to-four weeks. Head coach Dave Tippett said he expects Green to return if the season resumes.
Edmonton acquired Green from the Red Wings before the NHL trade deadline to help bolster their blueline depth for the playoff push.
The Oilers will be glad to get Green back if the season resumes as they look to solidify home-ice advantage in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Honorable Mention: Joakim Nygard, F
Brian Boyle, F
The veteran forward was signed by the Panthers right after the start of the NHL season, adding a much-needed physical presence in the lineup.
Boyle tallied 15 points in 39 games before landing on the injury report following the Feb. 1 game against the Canadiens.
Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville said on March 9 that he was optimistic about Boyle returning to action for the team’s road trip that concluded on March 12. Florida entered the pause just outside the playoff spots.
Honorable Mention: Sergei Bobrovsky, G
Los Angeles Kings
Jeff Carter, F
The two-time Stanley Cup champion is the only King listed on the injury report with a lower-body injury. Carter last played on Feb. 18 against Winnipeg and has scored 17 goals this season
Kings head coach Todd McLellan was optimistic on March 9 that the 35-year-old would return before the end of the season.
Los Angeles was riding a seven-game winning streak before play was halted, embracing the role of a team no one wants to face down the stretch.
Carson Soucy, D
The 25-year-old defenseman is the lone Wild player on the injury report and is currently recovering from an upper-body injury.
In his first full NHL season, Soucy has registered 14 points in 55 games starting mainly on the third defensive pairing.
The Wild could use all hands on deck as Minnesota continues their playoff push in the Western Conference Wild Card race.
Tomas Tatar, F
On March 10, the Canadiens announced that Tatar was out indefinitely with an upper-body injury without a timetable for a possible return.
It’s been a career-year for Tatar posting 61 points in 68 games this season. This return from injury would pose the greatest upside for Montreal, but the team’s playoff chances are slim as they sit nine points back of the Islanders for the second Wild Card spot.
Honorable Mention: Jonathan Drouin, F
Dan Hamhuis, D
Hamhuis last played on March 2 against Edmonton, playing just three shifts before exiting the game. The following day, the Predators announced he was day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
As the only Predator on the injury report, Hamhuis has played in 60 games this season. The veteran defenseman will look to aid Nashville’s leaky defense, which ranks tied for 19th in the NHL in goals allowed per game (3.10).
New Jersey Devils
Michael McLeod, F
Devils have two players, McLeod and defenseman Fredrik Claesson, who were day-to-day on the injury report with defenseman Will Butcher out three to four months with torn ligaments in his thumb. Even if the season were to resume in June or July, it would be a tight timetable for Butcher to return.
McLeod has recorded two assists in 12 games this season as the 2016 first-round pick should be all systems go after being ruled out with an unspecified injury for the March 10 game against the Penguins.
Claesson, who was acquired from Carolina in the Vatanen trade, and McLeod will look to contribute down the stretch for New Jersey and gain valuable playing experience if the 2019-20 season resumes.
Honorable Mention: Fredrik Claesson, D
New York Islanders
Josh Bailey, F
The Islanders look to be one of the teams that will gain the most when the season resumes. Bailey is among a handful of Islanders who should be good to go after the stoppage is over.
Bailey, who left the March 10 game against the Canucks, is tied for third on the team with 43 points. According to Natural Stat Trick, the 30-year-old forward is seventh on the team in expected goals scored when he’s on the ice (52.2).
Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello said on March 21 that forward Casey Cizikas and defenseman Johnny Boychuk will be healthy if the season resumes.
Honorable Mention: Casey Cizikas, F
New York Rangers
Chris Kreider, F
Kreider would be one of the biggest names to influence the playoff race. Entering the season’s pause, the Rangers were two points back of Columbus and Carolina in the Eastern Conference Wild Card race.
The 28-year-forward suffered a fractured foot on Feb. 28 and was scheduled to be out four-to-six weeks, likely sidelining him for the remainder of the regular season.
Now the Rangers could get one of their best offensive players (45 points) back for the team’s final 12 games should the regular-season resume.
Honorable Mention: Filip Chytil, F
Mark Borowiecki, D
The Senators assistant captain last played Feb. 13 against Arizona when he sustained an ankle injury. As one of the veterans, he ranks second on the team with 199 hits and 120 blocked shots.
Ottawa ruled Borowiecki out indefinitely with the injury as he was in the midst of his best offensive season (18 points).
The 30-year-old, Ottawa native should be back if the season resumes with the team entering the stoppage on a two-game losing streak.
Honorable Mention: Artem Anisimov, F
James van Riemsdyk, F
The Flyers have surged out of nowhere to be the sixth-best team in the league at the league’s stoppage and only one point back of the Metropolitan Division-leading Washington Capitals.
A big piece for the Flyers they’ll get back if the season resumes is van Riemsdyk, who has 40 points in 66 games this season. The 30-year-old was ruled out for four-to-six weeks by the Flyers on March 5 with a broken right index finger.
According to Natural Stat Trick, the winger is second on the team in individual expected goals created (18.1). He also leads the team in individual high danger chances created (105).
Honorable Mention: Nolan Patrick, F
Jake Guentzel, F
Over the last two seasons, no Penguin has score more goals than Guentzel (60). This season he had 43 points in 39 games played, but he suffered a right shoulder injury on Dec. 30 leading to season-ending surgery.
However, with the season paused and Guentzel being given a four-to-six month timeline following the surgery, there’s a distinct possibility that he could return if the season resumes according to general manager Jim Rutherford.
In Pittsburgh’s three previous playoff appearances, Guentzel ranks second on the team with 43 points only behind Sidney Crosby (49). Guentzel is a premier playoff performer and would provide a massive boost for the Penguins.
Honorable Mention: Zach Aston-Reese, F
San Jose Sharks
Erik Karlsson, D
It’s still uncertain whether the Sharks would bring back Karlsson, who was ruled out for the season on Feb. 15 after undergoing surgery to repair a broken thumb.
Karlsson, who has 40 points in 56 games, was slated to be ready for the start of training camp in September. With the potential of the season ramping up again in July or August, we’ll see if it’s worthwhile to bring him back for the conclusion of the season if he’s recovered.
San Jose entered the work stoppage as the third-worst team in the NHL.
Honorable Mention: Logan Couture, F
St. Louis Blues
Vladimir Tarasenko, F
The Blues would be getting one of the premier goal scorers in the league back for the playoff push. Tarasenko, who has only played in 10 games this season, last appeared in a game on Oct. 24 before undergoing shoulder surgery on Oct. 29.
On Feb. 6, Tarasenko skated for the first time since the procedure in hopes of joining the team in the near future.
The pausing of the season allows Tarasenko, who had 10 points before his injury, to fully recover and integrate back into the team before the playoffs.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Steven Stamkos, F
On Nov. 10, the Lightning were 14-11-3 and appeared to have a hangover from last season’s stunning first-round exit in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Since then, Tampa Bay has gone 29-10-3 to catapult themselves to second place in the Atlantic Division, but on Feb. 29 the team was a dealt a huge blow with Stamkos ruled out for six-to-eight weeks after undergoing core muscle surgery.
The two-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner scored 66 points in 57 games this season and was scheduled to miss the remainder of the regular season and possibly the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
With the season stoppage, Tampa Bay will have the chance to get their captain back for potentially a deep playoff run.
Honorable Mention: Victor Hedman, D
Toronto Maple Leafs
Jake Muzzin, D
Muzzin suffered a broken hand on Feb. 25 and was slated to miss a month. The 31-year-old tallied 23 points in 53 games this season.
If the season resumes, the Maple Leafs could be at the healthiest its been all season with defenseman Ilya Mikheyev also expected to return. Toronto has only two blueliners play at least 60 games this season in Tyson Barrie (70) and Justin Holl (68).
This will help aid a leaky defense. According to Natural Stat Trick, Toronto allows 3.13 goals per 60 minutes which is the sixth-worst rate in the league.
Honorable Mention: Ilya Mikheyev, D
Jacob Markstrom, G
The Canucks are in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race and the loss of Markstrom couldn’t come at a worst time. Markstrom last played on Feb. 22 and was ruled out for at least two weeks after undergoing a procedure for a lower-body injury.
This season, Markstrom was named an All-Star for the first time in his career posting a 2.75 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage.
Thatcher Demko and Louis Domingue have started games in his place with the Canucks going 3-5-0 before the March 12 pause. If the season resumes, Vancouver will greatly benefit from his return as the Canucks rank in the bottom half of the league in goals allowed per game.
Honorable Mention: Chris Tanev, D
Vegas Golden Knights
Max Pacioretty, F
The Golden Knights have gotten back on track after Peter DeBoer took over as head coach. Since taking over on Jan. 15, Vegas has the fourth-best record in the NHL going 15-5-2 catapulting them to the top of the Pacific Division.
However, the Golden Knights lost their leading scorer in Pacioretty with a lower-body injury on March 11. He was ruled out week-to-week.
This season, Pacioretty was on pace to set a career-high in points. At the league’s pause, he had 66 points (32 goals, 34 assists) putting him one point shy of his career-high 67 points. His Corsi percentage is 63.92, good for second in the NHL among players who have played at least 20 games this season.
If the season resumes, the Golden Knights will have a fully healthy Pacioretty for a deep playoff run.
Honorable Mention: Mark Stone, F
The Capitals entered the pause fully healthy with no one listed on the injury report.
Bryan Little, F
Little has been out since Nov. 5 after suffering a punctured eardrum and a concussion. According to NHL.com, Jets head coach Paul Maurice told reporters that there’s a chance Little can return if the season resumes.
The 13-year veteran only got to play in seven games this season and underwent surgery on his eardrum on Feb. 15 with the recovery time listed as three months.
In his career, Little has tallied at least 40 points in nine seasons and is the team’s second-leading all-time goal scorer with 217 goals. Winnipeg has had 324 man-games lost to injury this season but could get dramatically healthier if the season resumes.
Honorable Mention: Luca Sbisa, D
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