Canes close to being at full strength

Posted by Chip Alexander on December 17, 2013 

It felt like standing room only Tuesday as the Canes held their practice at Raleigh Center Ice.

Fourteen forwards were on the ice. Eight defensemen. Three goalies.

That's a full complement of players for the Canes, who don't play again until Friday, when the Washington Capitals come to PNC Arena.

"It's been since training camp that we've had this situation," Canes coach Kirk Muller said.

Defensemen Brett Bellemore and Mike Komisarek, who have been out with injuries, were back at practice. Alexander Semin was at practice. Anton Khudobin again was on the ice.

Khudobin still remains on injured reserve, but Muller said the goalie has been medically cleared to play. Muller said it's possible Khudobin could be sent to Charlotte for a conditioning stint with the AHL Checkers -- a move Khudobin would have to approve.

"That's where we'll be getting to soon -- to see if he's willing to go down there, if that's the quickest way to get him back and available," Muller said.

Asked if a conditioning request had been made to Khudobin, Muller said, "It will be here now soon. He's got enough practice time in the net. Now we've got to make a decision here."

Another decision to be made will be on making rookie forward Elias Lindholm available to the Swedish national junior team for the 2014 World Junior Championship in Malmo, Sweden. It appears as if Lindholm will play.

"He's 18 years old, it's in his home country, it's great hockey," Muller said. "If he decides it's something he wants to do, I think it would be a great opportunity for him … to play a lot of minutes and get healthy and get ready for the second half of the year."

Lindholm said Tuesday that the Swedish coach has been calling every four or so weeks to ask about his availability. And to lobby a little.

Lindholm played for the Swedes a year ago as they took the silver medal in the 2013 World Juniors in Ufa, Russia. Sweden lost to the U.S. 3-1 in the gold-medal game.

"Obviously it would be fun to go," Lindholm said. "I don't know how it will end up. If I'm going, it's a big honor to represent your country. It will be fun."

And should he stay with the Canes?

"It's a good opportunity either way. That's good," he said.

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