Brad Marchand is expected to be on the ice when the Boston Bruins open training camp on Sunday and could return from offseason surgery by the time the Bruins begin the 2020-21 NHL season on Jan. 14.
The forward had a sports hernia repaired on Sept. 14 with a recovery timeline of approximately four months; that would put him on schedule to be in the lineup by mid-January.
“[Marchand] is doing really well,” general manager Don Sweeney said Thursday. “He’s been on the ice pretty much every day. He will start to integrate into the main group of players from Day One of training camp.
“It’s more of a volume and comfort level for him. He’s done a lot of work on and off the ice and finding his hands and his timing … and his overall conditioning. We’ll be careful with it, but he’s made a nice progression.”
That doesn’t ensure Marchand will be on the ice for the first game of the season, against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Jan. 14, but it is a positive sign.
Marchand was Boston’s second-best scorer last season, behind linemate David Pastrnak, with 87 points (28 goals, 59 assists) in 70 games. He tied forward David Krejci for the Bruins’ postseason scoring lead with 12 points (seven goals, five assists) in 13 games.
The Bruins (44-14-12, .714 points percentage) won the Presidents’ Trophy with the best regular-season record in the NHL last season but lost to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning in five games in the Eastern Conference Second Round.
“[It] remains to be seen where we are as we move through camp and how he feels as a result of that as he introduces contact and such,” Sweeney said of Marchand.
Marchand is a crucial part of the Bruins’ top line, with Patrice Bergeron and Pastrnak, who had arthroscopic surgery on his right hip on Sept. 16; Pastrnak’s recovery was estimated to be approximately five months, which would put his return in mid-February.
“David is certainly a longer timeline to return to play and be back on ice in a regular fashion,” Sweeney said. “He won’t initially integrate into the main practice group as he increases volume in his own return to play. It’s unlikely that he starts the opening couple games, but we’re going to monitor week-by-week and we’ll continue to give you updates as they progress.”
Pastrnak led the Bruins in scoring last season with 95 points (48 goals, 47 assists) in 78 games; he tied Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin for the NHL lead in goals. Pastrnak scored 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in 10 postseason games.