Some eyebrows were raised Monday afternoon when the Canes recalled Aaron Palushaj from the Charlotte Checkers (AHL), just hours before the game against Columbus.
Another forward? The Canes had 13 on the ice Monday for the morning skate including Pat Dwyer, who had been out a few games with an upper-body injury.
Speculation quickly began. Were the Canes perhaps about to make a trade that involved a forward? Why Palushaj, why now?
Canes coach Kirk Muller quickly quashed those ideas after the 3-2 win over the Blue Jackets, saying it was more about playing five games in seven days and the physical toll it takes. That's why Palushaj joined the team for the flight to Montreal to face the Canadiens on Tuesday night.
"Just thinking ahead," Muller said. "Looking at the amount of games were playing, we feel if we need to rest a guy, he's here rather than to fly him in (Tuesday).
"Palushaj's been playing real well down there. He's an ex-Hab, so if we throw him in it's an old team. He played really well when he was here."
Palushaj, 24, has been the Checkers' most consistent point producer, with 39 points in 41 games, and leads the team with four game-winning goals. He has nine goals and 16 assists in his past 18 games, with eight multi-point games.
Paushaj was first recalled by the Canes in early January and played Jan. 5 against the Nashville Predators. He played 41 total games for the Canadiens in parts of two seasons and 25 for the Colorado Avalanche last season.
"He's ready to go," Muller said.