Boston Bruins

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - FEBRUARY 27: Ondrej Kase #28 of the Boston Bruins looks on during his first game with the Bruins at TD Garden on February 27, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

A truly out-of-sight, out-of-mind figure since he suffered a vague upper-body injury early in a Jan. 16 game in New Jersey, Bruins winger Ondrej Kase has started to incorporate on-ice work into his recovery.

It’s a baby step, sure, but it’s undoubtedly Kase’s biggest one towards a return.

But there’s still no targeted return date in sight, according to Bruins general manager Don Sweeney.

“He’s back on the ice, but there is zero timetable for when he returns,” Sweeney said Wednesday. “It’s just whatever medically allows him to continue to progress and he’ll do so. He’s eager to play, but sometimes things just take their own natural course to get past where he needs to.”

This really isn’t any different from what Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said about Kase earlier this month.

And it’s certainly understandable why the Bruins are refusing to put any sort of timeline on Kase.

He had a long concussion history before coming to the Bruins, and this latest injury (suspected to be a concussion) makes it at least five on-the-record head knocks in his career. It’s just that Sweeney and the Bruins certainly put a lot of pressure on Kase to be one of the team’s middle-six fixers this season, and there’s no denying that that plan has completely blown up in their face with the team once again struggling to do much of anything offensively.

“You might have drawn it up that Krejci, DeBrusk and Kase would have played some time together,” Sweeney acknowledged. “And at this stage [they] would probably have more than we had speculated – more than zero even strength goals amongst the three of them. It’s a problem throughout your lineup.”

Acquired from the Ducks in exchange for David Backes, prospect Axel Andersson, and a 2020 first-round pick last season, Kase’s Boston run has been marred by bad luck, as he dealt with a four-month stoppage due to the coronavirus pandemic and then had a late start to the season restart due to his own COVID issues.

It’s played out to a difficult find for the Czech wing, as Kase, who finished the 2020 playoffs in a fourth-line role, has totaled zero goals and five assists, along with 39 shots, in 19 total games with the Bruins.