Rickard Rakell is possibly back in the Pittsburgh Penguins lineup on Monday when the team hosts the Minnesota Wild at PPG Paints Arena.
Rakell has been out since suffering an upper-body injury on Nov. 21. He was struggling to that point, with just four assists in 17 games.
“I was in a pretty dark place when everything went down, but I think I’ve got some time now to process this,” Rakell said last Friday when he first returned to practice as a full participant. “And for me, it’s just trying to look at this as a fresh start and new opportunities out there and just try to play my game.”
The Penguins have not yet activated Rakell from LTIR, and some salary cap maneuvering may follow. The Penguins recently moved Bryan Rust to IR, but would need to move him to LTIR in order to accommodate the currently full roster.
The Penguins have won two of three but were not necessarily dominant before a 7-0 collapse against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.
Rakell figures to slot on the Penguins top line with Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel. In practice Friday, Rakell skated on the top line. Valtteri Puustinen maintained his spot on the second line with Evgeni Malkin.
Rakell participated in the Penguins’ optional morning skate.
Coach Mike Sullivan also said Noel Acciari and Chad Ruhwedel are game-time decisions. That represents an upgrade for all three players. Acciari took the fourth-line center position Sunday in practice, and Ruhwedel was on the third pairing.
Sullivan also said backup Alex Nedeljkovic would start in goal.