This means that the Penguins are the closest to full strength as they have been in what seems like forever. Only defensemen Paul Martin and Kris Letang, along with goaltender Brent Johnson, remain out of the lineup with injuries (at least that's what we've heard about the struggling backup netminder).
The Penguins have been dealing with concussions, knee injuries, sprained ankles, flu bugs and more for the better part of 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons. Despite this, they remain right in the thick of the Atlantic Division and are fourth in the Eastern Conference.
These results are nothing to scoff at.
So let's imagine for a minute that these injuries never happened. What would've happened to some of the players who sustained injuries if they went through an 82-game season without missing a beat?
Keep clicking for my opinion.
Sidney Crosby initially returned to the Penguins lineup on Nov. 21 after having missed a month-and-a-half of the 2011-12 season. He had not played since January of 2011.
In that time, Crosby posted 12 points in eight games, including four points in his first game back. This averaged out to 1.5 points per game.
Had Crosby played a full regular season, he'd currently have 102 points. This would put him on pace to finish with 123 points, putting him miles ahead of everyone else in the points race.
However, he would not be in contention for another Rocket Richard Trophy, as he had two goals in those eight games for 0.25 goals per game. This means he'd only rack up about 20 goals, not even close to Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning, who is leading the league with 50 goals.
Evgeni Malkin missed seven games earlier in the season dealing with some soreness in his surgically repaired knee. He got injured in February of last season and missed the remainder of the regular season and the postseason.
However, he has come back better than ever in 2011-12.
He is currently leading the NHL with 84 points in 61 games for a points-per-game average of 1.38. Over a full season, this comes out to 113 points. Although this would have him in second place to a fully healthy Crosby, it would still be his first 100-point season since 2008-09. That is nothing to be ashamed of.
He is also second in the league with 38 goals, which comes out to 0.63 goals per game. If he hadn't missed a game, he could have finished with 52 goals. That's still not enough to beat Steven Stamkos, who is aiming to finish with 69 goals.
Again, though, impressive totals in a bounce-back year show that Malkin still has it.
There's no denying that Brent Johnson is in a slump this year.
The third-year Penguins backup has not played since Feb. 19 and is apparently out with an injury. Before going down, he had a 3-7-2 record with an .882 save percentage an a 3.17 GAA.
Brad Thiessen was recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL and has two wins in his first two starts. He has put up a .917 save percentage and a 2.00 GAA.
However, before the recall, Thiessen was struggling in the AHL. He had a 20-14-2 record with an .885 save percentage and a 2.88 GAA. Sure, he had a winning record, but his declining numbers were cause for concern.
If Johnson had not gone through a miserable slump or didn't get hurt, he would still be the backup. After all, Dan Bylsma stated before the trade deadline that he still had faith in the veteran netminder.
Thiessen, meanwhile, would be working out the kinks in the minors and trying to impress the Pittsburgh brass.
Before his injury, he had three points in 14 games and a plus-three rating. In addition, he was averaging 17:30 of ice time per game. He has played 14:33 in his 16-game stint in Pittsburgh and has contributed to the power play, with 1:04 played on the unit each game.
Despres logged 20:07 of ice time in a December game against the Buffalo Sabres and played 18 minutes in a New Year's Eve matchup with New Jersey. This showed he was handling his role well and adjusting to the NHL with little issue.
Had he not gotten hurt, he would probably have remained in Pittsburgh, or at least had a longer look before being sent back to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. If he had continued to produce, it might've meant a defenseman like Ben Lovejoy would have become expendable and get sent out of town on the right deal at the trade deadline.
In 2010-11, Kris Letang had a career year with 50 points, playing top minutes as the Penguins dealt with injuries to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, among others.
The 2011-12 season looked to be even better.
However, Letang missed time with a concussion he sustained in November and was injured again on Feb. 29. He was hit in the head in a collision with Eric Nystrom of the Dallas Stars.
Prior to getting hurt, he had 31 points in 40 games. If neither of these head injuries had happened, he would have been on pace for 63 points and could currently have 53 points. This puts him in the thick of the top defensive scorers.
When you consider that he also leads the Pens with 25:03 of ice time per game, you realize he could have been in the Norris Trophy race.
Letang is a solid all-around defenseman who is arguably one of the league's best. If he stays fully healthy next year, other defensive studs such as Boston's Zdeno Chara and Ottawa's Erik Karlsson should be on notice.