GLENDALE, Ariz. — When the Coyotes acquired Dave Bolland from Florida last week, along with Panthers top prospect Lawson Crouse, Arizona general manager John Chayka acknowledged the possibility that Bolland could pronounce himself fit to play at some point during the remaining three years of his contract, thereby presenting the Coyotes with a decision.
Here is what Bolland is up against, however. Aside from his concussion history and the torn peroneal (ankle) tendon he suffered in November 2013 while playing for Toronto, Bolland is currently rehabbing a back injury he suffered last season with Florida, his agent Anton Thun said.
“The two issues are interconnected,” said Thun, whose firm, MFIVE Sports, also represents Coyotes forward Anthony Duclair and Arizona prospects Tyler Gaudet, Michael Bunting and Kyle Capobianco. “It looked like the ankle was going to be fine but it requires a significant level of day-to-day care. This past season when he sustained the back injury to one of his vertebrae, it impacted his ability to do that day-to-day care.
“There is a vertebra that is pinching a nerve so it’s not sending an electrical signal down to the ankle to provide that impulse to activate. Until his back is fully healed, it’s difficult to rehab the ankle. There’s nothing nefarious about this. It’s just a long process.”
Thun said Bolland has met with specialists for both injuries — in California for his back; in North Carolina for his ankle — and is making progress, but surgical options have not been recommended for the back injury. Bolland is currently in London, Ontario following medical protocols for rehab.
“Typically with this type of thing, it’s about taking baby steps and then there’s one day you say, ‘wow, I’m feeling better.’ Then hopefully he can go from being just a healthy person to being a healthy professional, but I’d be lying if I told anybody there’s an exact timeline. There is no timeline.
“There’s nothing that he would like more than to play in the National Hockey League again. Will that happen? I don’t think anybody can project that.”
A league source told Arizona Sports last week that the Coyotes would put Bolland on long-term injured reserve after training camp, thereby reducing their salary commitment to him from $5.5 million to $1.1 million this season, with insurance picking up the rest.
Unsigned Coyotes restricted free agent forward Tobias Rieder will report to Quebec City this weekend for the start of Team Europe’s training camp on Monday for the World Cup of Hockey, Team Europe assistant GM Rick Olczyk confirmed on Wednesday. Without a professional contract, Rieder obtained an alternate form of insurance to cover him in the event of injury.
With Coyotes training camp beginning on Sept. 23, there has been speculation recently that the Coyotes might look to trade Rieder because the two sides are still at an impasse over his contract, but league sources told Arizona Sports on Wednesday that there is no chance the Coyotes will trade Rieder to another team.
That would leave Rieder with three options: re-sign with the Coyotes, play in Europe this season or sit out the season. Restricted free agents must sign NHL contracts by Dec. 1, or they are not eligible to play in the NHL for the rest of the season.
— The Coyotes added three more scouts to their hockey operations department on Tuesday, further beefing up a department that ran woefully thin for years while ownership was in flux. Jim Hammett will cover the Western Hockey League; Rick Beckfeld will serve as an amateur scout based in Minnesota; and Sergei Kuznetsov will serve as a scout in Russia. The team also announced that Brett Stewart has joined the organization as a European Player Development Coach, Brad Rossen has been named as Director of Statistical Science and Al Ambrosia has been added as the Coyotes Hockey Operations Coordinator.
— Training camp will begin on Sept. 22 when veterans report for medicals, fitness testing and media day before getting taking the ice for their first practice on Sept. 23. Rookies report on Sept. 16 with their first practice on Sept. 17. All training camp practices for rookie and veteran camps will be held at Gila River Arena and are free and open to the public. Fans should enter the arena through Gate 3.
— The Coyotes do not plan to offer any PTOs (Professional Tryout agreements) to players for training camp in September, but that could change if a player becomes available that fits their plans.
— Four Coyotes prospects attended the National Hockey League Players’ Association Rookie Showcase on Monday at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto: centers Christian Dvorak, Ryan MacInnis, left wing Lawson Crouse and defenseman Anthony DeAngelo. The showcase provided Upper Deck, the official trading card partner of the NHLPA and the NHL, the opportunity to photograph and film many of the game’s top prospects in their official NHL uniforms.
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