It is being reported that Tampa Bay Lightning star Steven Stamkos is participating in light contact drills for the first time since breaking his right shin in November.
The Lightning and Stamkos appear to be hopeful that he will be able make a full recovery prior to his travels to Russia for the Sochi Winter Olympics. Stamkos, a member of Team Canada for the Winter Games, had 14 goals and 23 points in just 17 games before the injury took place in Boston. His return would be a pivotal spark for both his countrymen and a Lightning team that is currently tied for first place in the Atlantic Division with the Boston Bruins (67 points) and seven points ahead of the Toronto Maple Leaves.
With only six games remaining until the Olympic break, two of which are against Toronto, Stamkos will have to recover quickly if he hopes to see in game action before the Winter Games. While the idea of sending their best player to Russia fresh off of an injury is troubling, the Lightning should be thrilled that their star will be able to use Sochi as a sort of rehab to get ready for the final stretch of the NHL season. With the trade deadline looming in just over a month on March 5, no team could possibly acquire an impact player the caliber of Stamkos while keeping their core in tact.
Tampa Bay will need as much firepower as they can get if they hope to move past Boston and secure first place in the division. With the Lightning losing their first three games against the Bruins, and just one contest remaining between the two, they are essentially playing from behind.
Keep checking back here for updates on the health of Stamkos going forward.