October 04, 2016 - 3:24 PM
Calgary Flames top centre Sean Monahan is rounding back into form after a back strain sidelined him from the World Cup of Hockey.
The 21-year-old from Brampton, Ont., participated in his first full-contact practice of Flames training camp Tuesday. He could play as early as Thursday's pre-season game in Vancouver against the Canucks.
"Just to get on the ice with the guys feels good," Monahan said following practice. "It's what you work for all summer. I'm happy to be out there and feel the way I feel today."
He was projected to be one of the leaders on the Team North America under-23 squad at last month's World Cup of Hockey in Toronto.
A back strain forced Monahan to withdraw from the team Sept. 2. He was replaced by Florida Panthers forward Vincent Trocheck.
Calgary signed Monahan to a seven-year contract extension worth a reported US$44.6 million in the off-season.
The six-foot-three, 195-pound forward was second in Flames scoring last season behind Johnny Gaudreau with 27 goals and 36 assists in 81 games.
Gaudreau had two goals and two assists in three games for North America in the World Cup. The restricted free agent is missing from Flames training camp while he and the team negotiate a contract extension.
Monahan said his body passed the test in battle drills with burly teammate Michael Ferland to end Tuesday's practice.
"We were tossing each other around," Monahan said. "Ferlie's a big boy. I think I knocked him over there once, so it's a good sign."
But Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan wasn't ready to insert Monahan into the lineup for Wednesday's pre-season game against the visiting Arizona Coyotes.
He said Thursday's game in Vancouver is a possibility. The coach felt it wouldn't take long for Monahan to get on game pace.
"He was getting ramped up to play (in the World Cup) so he was ahead of where other guys were in September," Gulutzan pointed out.
"He was a little ahead as far as skating and then he had a setback, so it shouldn't be as long for him to get up to speed again."
The Flames open the regular season on the road against the Edmonton Oilers on Oct. 12.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2016