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Ryan Callahan cleared for contact, may be ready for opener

By Chris Peters | Hockey Writer

Ryan Callahan took another step towards his return to the Rangers' lineup. (USATSI)
Ryan Callahan took another step towards his return to the Rangers' lineup. (USATSI)

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The New York Rangers may get an early-season boost in the form of an earlier-than-expected return of team captain Ryan Callahan. After spending the offseason recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum, Callahan was cleared for contact Thursday, according to ESPN New York's Katie Strang.

Though head coach Alain Vigneault said Callahan would not play in the season opener, the fact that the Rangers captain has been cleared for contact could potentially change that decree. In terms of recovery, being able to take some contact in practice is usually one of the last steps before getting into game action. He has six days to see how contact goes before the season begins.

For the Rangers, starting the season with Callahan in the lineup would obviously be better than without. One of the better two-way players in the league, Callahan was one of New York's better offensive performers last season with 31 points in 45 games.

Carl Hagelin, who suffered the same injury as Callahan, remains out however and could miss the first few weeks of the season according to Strang.

With the Derek Stepan negotiations in the rearview, the Rangers forward crop is looking rather strong. Adding Callahan back to the mix a little earlier than anticipated, possibly, makes them that much better.

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