After practice on Monday, Sheldon Keefe discussed Zach Hyman’s status (out for a minimum of two weeks with an MCL sprain), William Nylander practicing in a taxi-squad sweater, the plan in place for Nick Foligno to join the team, and Frederik Andersen joining the group on the road trip.
What is the latest on Zach Hyman?
Keefe: He has a sprained MCL. He will miss a minimum of two weeks.
Will he stay with you on the road trip, or does he go back to Toronto? What are the immediate plans for him?
Keefe: I haven’t heard anything on that. I would imagine he will remain with us, but I can’t say for certain.
It’s not how you wanted to do it, but does it allow you to give some people some different looks in the next couple of weeks?
Keefe: That is what injuries do — creates opportunities for others and forces changes. We have different people that have played well for us that can fill in. We have played without important people throughout the season and have played some of our best hockey when we have been missing guys.
We have to give Hyms time to get healthy. We know he will come back strong. Our team shouldn’t miss a beat.
Based on what you saw on the hit last night, was today’s news perhaps better than you were expecting?
Keefe: No. I didn’t really know what to expect. With these kinds of things, you knew it involved the knee. You never really know until you get a picture of it. We had to wait on that. Things did seem pretty positive yesterday, but all things considered, if he can get himself back in two weeks, that would be great news for us.
With these types of hits and that type of a contact, it can have some pretty bad results. We will take it. Hyms will come back strong, rested, and ready to go for us. Our team will just press on. Of course, we will miss him, but other people will step up. That in and of itself will make us a stronger group down the stretch.
We noticed William Nylander wearing grey in practice today. What is his status today?
Keefe: It is simple with Will. He was late for a meeting here this morning. His status was that he was not going to play tomorrow. We had him on the outside today for practice. We are going to discuss it and reassess it for tomorrow night’s game. It was just as simple as him missing a meeting.
It looked like Ilya Mikheyev left early. What is the outlook for him?
Keefe: I haven’t gotten word. He obviously didn’t practice here today, so he is questionable for tomorrow.
When are you expecting Nick Foligno to join the team?
Keefe: My understanding is he is going to be meeting us in Winnipeg on Wednesday. It will be late Wednesday. We are traveling from Winnipeg to Vancouver on Wednesday. His first official day with us will be on Thursday.
With Hyman coming out and Foligno coming in, and the possibility of David Rittich playing, how appreciative are you — in light of the recent circumstances — for the deals that were made at the deadline and the timing considering what has gone on?
Keefe: Very much so. That is really what Kyle’s goal was going into the deadline — to make our team better through increased depth. The reality is that you just don’t know what you are going to be up against. Whether it is matchups, injuries, performance — whatever it is, you have to be able to have answers to questions that come up and issues that come up.
It is going to be nice to see Nick when we get out there to Winnipeg and welcome him to our team. Certainly, it will give us a boost at a time when you lose a significant piece to your team.
As I said, it is not just the incoming players at the deadline. It is others. Adam Brooks played for us the other night. It is the first game he played for us since early in the season. I thought he was outstanding in a small-minute role. That is just another sign of the depth for us.
Rasmus Sandin is finding his way to getting healthy again. Timothy Liljegren has been excellent in practice. We have guys that have been around here who, because of injuries and such, we haven’t been able to get into the lineup, but we feel really good about our depth. The deadline certainly bolstered that.
You lived through the great start for Jack Campbell, and now there is a little difficulty on his behalf. How do you know what is real and what is not with him?
Keefe: The only way is to stay with him and give him more opportunity to play. He set an NHL record. Any time you are doing that, obviously, things are unprecedented. You are probably playing at an unsustainable pace. You knew he wasn’t going to stay perfect.
Things have kind of gone the other way here for him. You are wanting him to find his way somewhere in the middle. We believe in Jack, and this is part of his process in playing more and having some increased expectations that come with having such a remarkable run he put together.
He did that. He earned that. He played that way. Because of that, our group has confidence in him. He should have confidence in himself. We just have to continue to work with him and help him through this to find that balance that every goaltender is looking for.
You had Frederik Andersen join you toward the end of practice. What does it mean to the team to see him back? Is he at all close to returning?
Keefe: It is really big to have him out there. He has been making a lot of great steps. Obviously, coming on the road and being around the team, it is a big one. Any time you are an injured player, you tend to separate a little bit from the team just because you are not around the group nearly as much and you are not out in practice — all of the different things that are the most fun.
Having him on the road has been big. You can just see his teammates interacting with him. The guys were really excited to have him out there today. I think everybody wanted to make sure they got a shot on him before they left the ice. That was cool to see.
Most importantly, we are seeing his progress. In terms of what it means with him coming back to play, I think it is too early to tell on that. Things are obviously moving in a very good direction here.