For most of this season, the Nashville Predators have been relatively lucky in terms of injuries to key players, and while defenseman Alexander Sulzer has only played two games, word coming today from the Tennessean that he may return to action as early as Saturday is welcome news.
Sulzer, who signed a two-year contract extension recently, was injured January 28, separating his shoulder in a game in Vancouver. He's clearly a part of Nashville's future blueline, so I'm sure the coaching staff will want to work him into the lineup as best they can. His mere presence on the active roster, however, might give the team the resources it needs to get help elsewhere.
Just recently, little-used defenseman Ville Koistinen spoke out publicly with his request to be traded out of town, but since Sulzer was on injured reserve, GM David Poile has had precious little NHL-ready depth to call upon if he made a deal to land some help up front.
Koistinen played forward for the first time as a Predator in last night's victory over Chicago, leaving Ryan Jones as a healthy scratch; is this a case of Poile showcasing Koistinen for any potential bidders, or an honest hunch that the disgruntled Finn might add some punch to a lifeless power play? In his post-game press conference, Barry Trotz was quoted as saying:
...we just felt that they [Chicago] are such a quick team that Koisty might be someone we want to see on the wing. Maybe he could create something off the rush transitionally and give him a little power play time.
The problem is, Koistinen didn't actually get any power play action, and only logged 5:16 of total ice time. Jones certainly could have helped out more than that. If Sulzer actually dresses and plays well Saturday, I'm guessing that Koistinen might as well pack his bags. As to what, if anything, Poile could get for a pending free agent with little to his NHL resume so far, we'll have to wait and see what he can pull out of his magic hat.