If everything goes exactly to Trent Whitfield’s plan, the journeyman center will be back in the Providence (AHL) lineup on New Year’s Day.

Of course, when you’re returning from an injury as serious as a torn Achilles, it can be difficult to pinpoint an exact date and patience is of the essence.

Whitfield told P-Bruins Senior Director, Marketing Services Adam Kaufman in an in-game interview over the weekend that he has targeted Jan. 1, but is more realistically looking at Jan. 10, as a possible return date from the injury he suffered last August while training in preparation for the season.

“We’ve come a long ways in a short period of time,” said Whitfield, acknowledging that some early projections had him missing anywhere from six months to the entire season.

Whitfield recently started skating, including with his teammates for morning skates. He’s hoping that after consulting with doctors he’ll get the clearance to practice and maybe take some contact to see how his leg holds up.

Regardless, things are moving in the right direction for the 33-year-old, who would be a huge addition to the Providence lineup and also provide Boston with more injury insurance down the road up front.

“It’s exciting,” Whitfield, who skated in 16 regular-season games and four playoff games with Boston last season, told Kaufman. “You’re excited to come to the rink again. It’s not Groundhog Day, where you’re coming to the rink to do the same, monotonous things that you do day in and day out. Throughout the first few months, there wasn’t much progression. …

“So we’ve done it the right way. We’ve done everything the way we should. And now it’s starting to pay off and I’m starting to see the light. The biggest hurdle is coming up.”