BRIGHTON, Mass. -- The Bruins got some good news on the health front this week as scoring winger Frank Vatrano returned to the ice for the first time on Tuesday morning.
The 22-year-old missed all of training camp and the first 18 games of the season with foot surgery following a training mishap in the days leading up to conditioning testing, and was supposed to be out until after Christmas. Vatrano has been working on the bike and in the pool with low impact exercise over the last few weeks, but is now going to be able to step it up to skating and work on the treadmill beginning this week.
“I didn’t forget how to skate, so that’s a good thing,” said a smiling Vatrano, who clearly can see the light at the end of the tunnel for his rehab at this point.
Given he’s resumed skating, it’s likely that Vatrano is a few weeks away from being able to rejoin practicing with the team and could be looking at a 2 ½ month return to game action from injury rather than the three month timetable initially set out for him. In essence, Vatrano might be able to return prior to Christmas when it was initially assumed he’d be out for the 2016 portion of the 2016-17 regular season.
The East Longmeadow, Mass. native scored eight goals and 11 points in 39 games for the Bruins last season, and posted a whopping 44 goals between Boston and Providence last season with his sizzling wrist shot and wicked release. Vatrano was expected to win a top six winger role with the Bruins out of training camp, and his return could lead to some interesting roster decisions for the Bruins when it comes to the massively underperforming Jimmy Hayes (zero points in 16 games and a team-worst minus-9 rating), and with center Ryan Spooner after playing out of position at left wing alongside David Krejci to start the season.