News: Mike Weaver (concussion) was cleared for contact during Wednesday's practice. Analysis: The concussion symptoms seem to have dissipated for Mike Weaver, who has been out since Dec. 6. The Canadiens will still have to activate him from IR before he's able to return to the lineup, which could happen after he logs another practice or two.
News: Derick Brassard (illness) has been confirmed to have a case of the mumps, Steve Zipay of Newsday reports. Analysis: Derick Brassard will remain away from the Rangers until his contagious symptoms have subsided. He's the 15th NHL player confirmed to have acquired the mumps this season, and the second Rangers player after Tanner Glass was diagnosed with the virus in late November.
News: Coach Craig Berube said after Wednesday's practice that there is a "good chance" Vincent Lecavalier will play Thursday against the Panthers, Tim Panaccio of CSN Philadelphia reports. Analysis: Vincent Lecavalier has spent the previous seven games in the press box, but it looks like Berube has finally warmed up to the idea of returning the pricey veteran into the lineup. Berube said Lecavalier would likely play at his natural center spot Thursday, though probably in a bottom-six role, making it difficult for him to deliver much value.
News: Stephen Weiss (shoulder) is expected to return to the Red Wings lineup before Christmas, Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press reports. Analysis: The Red Wings probably won't have a firmer target date for Stephen Weiss' return until he starts practicing with the team, but fortunately, it seems that the team is ruling out an absence of more than a month for the forward. Weiss' two-year stint in Detroit has largely been a tumultuous one due to his repeated setbacks on the health front, but he has been outstanding in the 11 games he's suited up for this season, netting four goals and 10 points.
News: Johan Franzen (illness) is expected to play Friday against the Islanders, Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press reports. Analysis: It doesn't sound like Johan Franzen has experienced any symptoms related to the mumps virus that has been making its way around the league, so with a couple more days to recuperate, he should be ready to play. His availability for Friday's game should be confirmed after the Red Wings hold their morning skate that day.
News: John Curry was recalled from AHL Iowa on Wednesday, Chad Graff of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. Analysis: With both Niklas Backstrom and Darcy Kuemper battling stomach illnesses and uncertain to suit up Wednesday, John Curry will be on hand as an insurance option. It appears Backstrom's illness isn't as severe as Kuemper's, so he's generally expected to make the start, likely leaving Curry to serve as the backup.
News: Chris Kunitz (foot) is considered close to a return, but will not play Thursday against the Avalanche, Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. Analysis: Chris Kunitz first resumed practicing with the team Wednesday, so it's understandable that the Penguins aren't willing to rush him back into a game a day later when he probably still needs to get his conditioning up to snuff. Assuming that his broken foot doesn't cause further problems while he skates the next couple of days, look for Kunitz to potentially suit up for Saturday's tilt with the Panthers.
News: Emerson Etem was recalled from AHL Norfolk on Wednesday, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports. Analysis: With Kyle Palmieri out indefinitely after suffering a shoulder injury Tuesday night, Emerson Etem will rejoin the Ducks for a second stint. He tallied just four points in 21 games the first time around, so expectations should probably be tempered, despite the 22-year-old's offensive gifts. He skated on the second line with Ryan Kesler and Matt Beleskey at Wednesday's practice.
News: Martin Erat picked up an assist Tuesday on the overtime game-winner against Edmonton. He was plus-1, took two shots, and registered a hit and blocked shot in the contest. Analysis: Martin Erat has recovered from last year's disaster 24 points season to post 13 points in 30 games this year. This was his first point in four games though, so his days as a 50+ point man are likely done and gone.
News: After being a healthy scratch for the first time since his sophomore season, Sam Gagner returned to the Coyotes' lineup Tuesday and picked up an assist on the game-winner against the Oilers. He was plus-1, took three shots, and added two hits and a blocked shot in 20:27 of ice time. Analysis: The 25 year-old Sam Gagner has been a huge disappointment in his first season with Arizona, registering just 11 points and a minus-8 rating in 30 games. It looks like he should be back in the lineup for now, but he needs to produce to keep his spot.