The New Jersey Devils took to the ice for their first practice since the All-Star break.
Many anticipated we’d see Jack Hughes on the ice because he claimed he felt he was “really close” to returning this weekend. He then flew home early from the All-Star weekend to focus on the remainder of the season.
Although he was absent from practice, head coach Lindy Ruff echoed Hughes’ statement.
“I know (Hughes) is a lot closer than before but I can’t really give you a date,” Ruff said. “It could be soon. It could be a few more days. We haven’t had him in a full practice. It may come tomorrow if things go well today. Go from there.”
There were a few other fresh faces on the ice Sunday afternoon, including forward Tomas Nosek (lower-body injury) who last played on Nov. 18th, and defenseman Nick DeSimone who was acquired on waivers on Jan. 25th.
It’s certainly good news on Nosek. The Devils forward has been skating independently and appears ready to get back into the Devils’ lineup.
“We’re getting a guy that’s a good penalty killer, a good veteran player,” Ruff explained. “I thought he played well in the preseason. We know what he is, a good two-way guy who can defend against anybody. He’s just got years of experience that can help our club.”
Will he be ready to jump into the lineup on Tuesday when the Devils host Zach Parise and the Colorado Avalanche?
“I think we’ll gauge after practice today how he felt,” Ruff said. “We’ll take a good look at him again tomorrow and see what he feels like. We’ll hear from him first. He’s been skating a lot so to get him in a couple of practices, I’d anticipate he’d be close to being ready to play.”
Nosek has played six games this season with the Devils before he suffered a lower-body injury. Now that they’re without Michael McLeod, Nosek will likely be relied on defensively as his replacement. It’s not quite McLeod’s 65% faceoff win rate, but Nosek is a career, 54.5% in the dot. It’s certainly good news.
DeSimone was claimed as the Devils, although healing, are hampered by injuries. It sounds like the Devils acquired him to help push the offense from the blue line.
“When you look at his game, he’s a lot like a Colin Miller,” Ruff explained. “He’s got a good shot, offensive (Defenseman). You’d look at him helping create offense. I think it’s good two-way depth for us.”
Additionally, there’s good news on Jonas Siegenthaler and Brendan Smith, too. Ruff explained, “I would anticipate we’re getting close with (Smith and Siegenthaler) to get back to practice.”
After practice, the Devils recalled defenseman Santeri Hatakka from the Utica Comets.
Devils Sunday Workflow
Ondrej Palat – Nico Hischier – Jesper Bratt
Tyler Toffoli – Erik Haula – Dawson Mercer
Timo Meier – Curtis Lazar – Nathan Bastian
Chris Tierny – Tomas Nosek – Alexander Holtz
Kevin Bahl – Simon Nemec
Luke Hughes – John Marino
Colin Miller – Nick DeSimone
Vitek Vanecek/Nico Daws