CRANBERRY, Pa. -- The Penguins' most important acquisition this trade deadline may just be a healthy Justin Schultz.
Schultz has been out of the lineup for nearly the entire season after fracturing his left leg in Montreal on Oct. 13, and has been taking steps towards a likely February return. He began skating on his own Jan. 5, and participated in Wednesday's morning skate in a red no-contact sweater.
Schultz was again in a no-contact sweater during Thursday's practice at the Lemieux Complex, but he was a full participant in the drills, and took some reps during power-play work. He spent some additional time on the ice before practice with skills coach Ty Hennes, and stayed on the ice for more work afterward. It's an encouraging sign of Schultz's progress.
"It's a big step for him," said Mike Sullivan said following practice. "We're excited to get him back in the fold here. We know he's a real good defenseman and he's going to help us moving forward."