Toronto's Tomas Kaberle is expected to have the permanent cast on his broken right hand removed on Friday.
The injured Maple Leafs defenseman will be fitted with a portable cast, which will allow him to grip his hockey stick and participate in practice with the team.
If there are no setbacks, Kaberle could be back in Toronto's lineup by late next week, a full seven days ahead of his recovery schedule.
Kaberle suffered the break in a Jan. 29 game against Colorado. At that time, he was leading the Leafs in defensive scoring, with four goals and 26 assists for 30 points.
Two games prior to the injury, the 30-year-old participated in the NHL All-Star Game in Montreal, registering two assists.
The Czech rear guard has been rumored in recent weeks to be on the NHL trading block, after informing GM Brian Burke he would waive the no-trade clause in his contract. It is likely that some teams are cautious about dealing for Kaberle, though, unsure whether he will be 100 percent for the playoffs.
Toronto may be forced to instead peddle players like Jason Blake, Nik Antropov, or Alexei Ponikarovsky prior to the March 4 trade deadline.