NHL Morning Links - Dec. 17

Forward Shawn Thornton is opting to roll the dice. According to the player’s agent and the NHLPA, the Boston Bruins veteran is appealing his 15-game suspension for attacking Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik on Dec. 7. Next up is a hearing with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. If the suspension still sits at six games or more after Bettman makes his call, Thornton can then take his appeal to an independent arbitrator. Of course, Thornton also runs the risk of seeing his suspension increased. TSN legal analyst Eric Macramalla suggests odds are slim the punishment is altered by either the commissioner or, if it gets that far, a neutral authority. Also, Macramalla proposes the entire process should pass rather quickly.

As for Orpik (concussion symptoms), there’s word the Penguins defenseman is feeling better. Welcome news, considering how devastated the Pens’ blue line is by injury. While Kris Letang (undisclosed upper-body injury) and Rob Scuderi (broken ankle) aren’t due back until after the Christmas break, Paul Martin (broken leg) isn’t scheduled to return until mid-January. ESPN Insider Craig Custance looks into whether the Penguins can keep up their winning ways with some many key figures hurt. Forward Evgeni Malkin is also listed as day-to-day.

In other suspension-related news, Edmonton Oilers defenseman Corey Potter has been told to sit out two games for boarding forward Nick Bonino of the Anaheim Ducks. And Deryk Engelland (Penguins) has an in-person hearing with the NHL's discipline department set for Wednesday after elbowing Detroit Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader in the jaw.

You can add Johan Franzen to the list of ailing Red Wings. Franzen joins Abdelkader on the sidelines in accordance with the league’s concussion protocol. Center Riley Sheahan is expected to make his season debut for the Wings Tuesday, while prospect forward Tomas Jurco should get another taste of NHL action.

Trade rumors concerning Justin Peters continue to churn. Apparently the Oilers have some interest in dealing for the Carolina Hurricanes goaltender. Despite the healthy return of Evgeni Nabokov, the New York Islanders may also be somewhat keen.

The Hurricanes aren’t the only club with a glut of competent netminders. With Michal Neuvirth all healed up, the Washington Capitals have three goalies on their roster. Our best guess is Philipp Grubauer is eventually sent back to the AHL, since the 22-year-old doesn’t have to clear waivers for reassignment.

The Bruins confirm forward Daniel Paille has a concussion. Out since Dec. 8, the winger isn’t expected back anytime soon.

After missing nearly a month with a suspected knee injury, Bryan Bickell is due back for the Chicago Blackhawks for Tuesday’s tilt with the Nashville Predators.

Turns out defenseman Ryan Wilson is not prepared to return for the Colorado Avalanche after all. Wilson has been out since early November with a back injury.

Forward Mikael Granlund is “close” to rejoining the Minnesota Wild lineup. Probably not Tuesday against the Vancouver Canucks, but a return Thursday versus the Penguins feels like is a genuine possibility. Granlund has been out since late November with a concussion.

Pending UFA Ales Hemsky is resigned to the idea of being dealt by the Oilers. Considering the 30-year-old winger has been the subject of trade rumors for several years, he should be somewhat reconciled with a potential move.

Rookie Morgan Rielly will soon find out whether he’ll be loaned to Team Canada for the upcoming world junior tournament. The sooner a decision is made the better, as far as the young D-man is concerned.

San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan is threatening to skate Brent Burns and Logan Couture as bottom-six forwards Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues. However, the demotion in practice smells more like a kick in the pants than anything else.

Probably no David Backes for the Blues Tuesday. The squad’s captain was forced from Monday’s game in Ottawa with a suspected head injury.

The captain of the Phoenix Coyotes isn’t quite ready to return to action. But Coyotes bench boss Dave Tippett wouldn’t dismiss the possibility of Shane Doan (illness) joining the team on its four-game road trip.

Head honcho Ed Snider won’t rule out a potential trade involving the Philadelphia Flyers. On the upside for the Flyers, Vincent Lecavalier is progressing, slowly but surely, in his recovery from a nasty back injury.

Owner Eugene Melnyk and general manager Bryan Murray are already discussing a contract extension. Murray’s current deal with the Ottawa Senators is scheduled to expire at the end of this season.

Rookie Reid Boucher is likely the odd-man out once Stephen Gionta (ankle injury) and/or Ryane Clowe (concussion) are good-to-go for the New Jersey Devils. Which is essentially now, at least in Gionta’s case.