Injured star winger Samuel Honzek is closing in on a return to action with the Vancouver Giants.
General manager Barclay Parneta says that Honzek won’t play Wednesday when Vancouver visits the Spokane Chiefs, but he could be ready to go Friday when the team visits the Kamloops Blazers. Vancouver plays at home Saturday as well, hosting the Tri-City Americans at the Langley Events Centre.
Honzek, 19, is yet to play with Vancouver this season after getting hurt in an Oct. 4 pre-season game with the Calgary Flames. The Flames used a first-round pick, No. 16 overall, in June’s NHL Draft to land the rangy Slovak, who had 23 goals and 56 points in an injury-shortened 43 regular season games with the Giants last season.
Honzek said Monday that he suffered an abdomen injury in the game with the Flames. He had been rehabbing in Calgary with the Flames’ medical team but returned to the Lower Mainland last week and began practising again with Vancouver.
He’s slated to play for the Slovaks in the world juniors in Sweden, and he’s expected to leave for their training camp Dec. 10. That means he’ll get somewhere in the vicinity of seven games in with Vancouver before then, depending on how much they opt to ease him in by doing things like giving him the second half of back-to-back game nights off.
Honzek will miss at least seven games at world juniors.
Centre Kyren Gronick (lower body injury) is slated to be back with Vancouver for Wednesday, according to Parneta.
Vancouver was missing six regulars for their 4-3 overtime loss to the Lethbridge Hurricanes at the LEC on Saturday.
Along with Gronick and Honzek, they were without injured wingers Matthew Edwards (upper body) and Colton Langkow (upper body) and defenceman Marek Howell (lower body) and Damian Palmieri (lower body).
Vancouver’s a younger team, with the maximum three 20-year-olds and six 19-year-olds. Honzek, Gronick, Langkow and Palmieri are all in their 19-year-old seasons.
Parneta has said that Palmieri had knee surgery and will be sidelined for several weeks. Parneta lists the others at day-to-day.
Vancouver has struggled of late, losing four of five going into Spokane. That included Saturday’s setback to Lethbridge, when they gave up the tying goal with 1:15 left in regulation time and the winner just 47 seconds into overtime.
The Giants (8-12-2-0) woke up Tuesday sitting ninth in the 11-team Western Conference. They’re six points behind the sixth-place Americans (11-7-1-1), so there’s logjam in the standings.
“We are a young team, but, at some point, whether you’re a young player or an old player, we need to figure out what’s going to work for each individual and make that consistent in our team’s identity,” Giants associate coach Adam Maglio said after the Saturday game. “That’s the challenge for us right now.”
Vancouver Giants at Spokane Chiefs
Where: Spokane Arena
When: Wednesday, 7:05 p.m.
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