Editor's note: The above video is from head coach Pete DeBoer's media availability on Oct. 6.
SAN JOSE – Raffi Torres’ historically long 41-game suspension is winding down, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be back for the Sharks-Oilers game on Jan. 14 when he’s eligible to return.
The 34-year-old forward underwent a surgical procedure on Dec. 11 on his right knee, according to general manager Doug Wilson, and just started skating again on Tuesday. He went on the ice before the team and casually glided up and down the ice, seemingly testing out the knee that has been repaired and infected multiple times over the last several years.
Wilson said: “Raffi skated today. He had a minor procedure a little while ago just to take care of some of the scar tissue, and he’s looking good. He’s progressing.”
The general manager stopped short, however, of saying that Torres would be added to the roster as soon as the suspension is lifted. Currently Torres is a non-roster player, although the Sharks are still on the hook for his $2 million salary cap hit.
“Raffi is part of our organization and he’s worked hard. He’s done all the things we’ve asked him to do health-wise and training-wise," Wilson said. "The procedure he did was to alleviate some of the scar tissue, which was again just part of the journey. He skated today, and he’ll probably add more skating as the week progresses.”
An AHL conditioning stint would seem to make the most sense, but Wilson said that will be up to coach Pete DeBoer. On Dec. 3, DeBoer said that Torres would be a welcome addition to the team so long as he’s physically able to play.
“Raffi is a guy that if he’s healthy, he can help us,” DeBoer said at the time. “I don’t think Doug or I differ on that opinion. But, we’ve got to see where he’s at.”
DeBoer still seems hopeful that Torres will become an option at some point. He said that a Jan. 14 return date for the agitator is “probably a reach, but we’re shooting to be close to that.”
“In talking to him, he feels good,” DeBoer said on Tuesday. “He feels very optimistic about where he’s at and where he’s going. That’s a good sign.”
Torres missed all of the 2014-15 season and most of the season prior after originally tearing his ACL on Sep. 20, 2013. He was suspended for half of the NHL’s regular season for illegally hitting Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg in the head during a preseason game on Oct. 3.
He is a pending unrestricted free agent in the last year of a three-year, $6 million contract with San Jose.