The game may not matter in terms of playoff positions, what with the Carolina Hurricanes facing elimination in two separate situations elsewhere tonight. But it will undoubtedly be a buoyant locker room in Minnesota tomorrow night regardless, because the Canes have recalled Bryan Bickell from Charlotte to make his return to the NHL, five months after receiving a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.
After joining the Hurricanes in the offseason via trade from the Chicago Blackhawks, Bickell played in 10 games to begin the 2016-17 season before being sidelined in late October with an undisclosed illness. On Nov. 11 the team announced he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and Bickell began treatment and rehabilitation with the hope of eventually returning to the lineup. He cleared waivers and was assigned to the Charlotte Checkers on Feb. 24, where he was able to continue his journey back, playing in 10 games and logging four points, leading up to today’s recall.
Bickell’s NHL comeback occurs at the same time that Charlotte Checkers leading scorer Andrew Poturalski joins the Hurricanes for the first time, primed to make his NHL debut tomorrow night as well. To make room for the two, the Canes have reassigned Phil Di Giuseppe and Lucas Wallmark to Charlotte.
RALEIGH, NC - Ron Francis, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the National Hockey League's Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has recalled forwards Bryan Bickell and Andrew Poturalski from the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League (AHL). Forwards Phil Di Giuseppe and Lucas Wallmark have been reassigned to Charlotte.
Bickell, 31, began the 2016-17 campaign with Carolina and notched one goal in seven games before being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in early November. He returned to game action with the Checkers in late February and scored one goal and earned three assists (4 points) in 10 games with Charlotte. The Bowmanville, Ont., native was acquired by Carolina on June 15, 2016, from Chicago, where he was a member the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup-winning teams in 2010, 2013 and 2015. Bickell (6'4", 223 lbs.) was drafted by Chicago in the second round, 41st overall, in the 2004 NHL Draft, and has scored 66 goals and earned 70 assists in 391 NHL career regular-season games with the Blackhawks and Hurricanes.
This marks the first NHL recall for the 23-year-old Poturalski, who is in his first full professional season after completing his collegiate career in 2015-16 at the University of New Hampshire. The Williamsville, NY, native leads all Checkers skaters this season with 32 assists and 48 points while playing in all 69 of the team's games. The Hurricanes signed Poturalski (5'10", 180 lbs.) to a two-year, entry-level contract on March 8, 2016, after he finished the 2015-16 collegiate season ranked second among all National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) skaters with 52 points (22g, 30a) in 37 games with the Wildcats. He was named a first-team All-American (East) and was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award, which is given annually to the nation's top collegiate hockey player.