Rangers’ Blake Wheeler available for Eastern Conference Final vs. Panthers

New York Rangers forward Blake Wheeler is returning to the ice after a lengthy injury absence. (Frank Franklin II/AP)

New York Rangers forward Blake Wheeler is ready to play.

On Sunday, after an optional skate, the 37-year-old revealed that he’s available to play in the Eastern Conference Final against the Florida Panthers after being out with an injury since February.

“I think once you get rid of the red jersey, and the fact they take me off of the injured reserve, I think that’s been my goal the whole time since I got hurt: to be an option and be available again. And that’s where we’re at,” he said, per ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski.

“It’s going to be in the coach’s hands from there, but I’m ready in any capacity I can to help out.”

The Minnesota native was injured on Feb. 15 against the Montreal Canadiens. His leg bent at an unnatural angle, and he needed help off the ice.

Wheeler was placed on the injured reserve for the remainder of the regular season, but has been participating in practice the past few weeks and was allowed to take off his non-contact jersey on Monday.

New York signed Wheeler last summer after his contract was bought out by the Winnipeg Jets. Before his injury, Wheeler registered 21 points in 54 games this season.

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