Pinto set to practice with Senators as end of suspension nears
Johnston adds the restricted free agent is expected to sign a contract to play before Jan. 21, when he is eligible to return.
"He's about to ramp things up here a little bit more. Even already, he's been in Ottawa for a number of weeks skating," Johnston said on Insider Trading. "And as the Senators get back from the road trip this week, the plan is to have him rejoin the team at practice. He doesn't need to have his contract done in order to be eligible to do that, and so he'll get a chance to take some reps with his teammates and try to take that conditioning to another level.
"At some point before Jan. 21 in Philadelphia – when he's eligible to return – he will sign that deal. It does sound like a formality that, once the Sens make some roster moves, they'll be able to sign him and shouldn't be an issue."
The league announced the suspension to Pinto for “activities related to sports wagering” in October, adding its adding its investigation found no evidence that Pinto made any wagers on NHL games. Pinto had previously missed the first games of the Senators season while unsigned.
“I want to apologize to the National Hockey League, the Ottawa Senators, my teammates, the fans and city of Ottawa and most importantly my family," Pinto said in a statement at the time. "I take full responsibility for my actions and look forward to getting back on the ice with my team.”
Postmedia hockey columnist Bruce Garrioch reported the Senators have rescinded all previous contract offers to Pinto. His qualifying offer, issued to retain his rights in June, is still available at $874,125.
The 22-year-old centre scored 20 goals and tallied 35 points in 82 games last season, his first full campaign in the NHL.