Ryan Kesler Out (Again) with a Broken Foot

Thomas Drance
February 27 2013 04:51PM

It wasn't clear when the Canucks waived grinder Aaron Volpatti on Wednesday morning what angle the club was playing at. The roster maneuver began to make more sense however, at the team's practice on Wednesday afternoon when Ryan Kesler was wearing a boot. It turns out the Canucks' Selke winning centre was injured, and the team will recall Andrew Ebbett to plug a major hole in their top-six.

According to Alain Vigneault, the injury is a broken foot and Kesler should miss the next four to six weeks as a result. Yikes.

Read on past the jump.

While the news appears grim, there's good news and bad news here. The good news is in the timing. I mean, at least it's not the playoffs, and Kesler should still be back in the lineup on time for the postseason tournament. The bad news on the other hand, is that without Ryan Kesler the Canucks will find themselves short-handed in pretty much every phase of the game.

Kesler was clearly not as effective as he's been in the past through seven games this season, though he at least added an element of dynamism to the power-play and was able to win face-offs by the bucketload. With Kesler on the shelf, the Canucks' lack of centre depth will be exposed, which becomes plain once you remember that, at least to begin with, Andrew Ebbett will find himself in the top-six. Needless to say that's a suboptimal situation for Vancouver's NHL club..

Though the loss of Kesler hurts it's really not the end of the world for the Canucks or their playoff hopes. I'd still bet heavily on them winning the Northwest and securing home-ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs. That's partly because, even without Kesler, the Canucks still have three reasonably effective top-nine centreman on the roster in Maxim Lapierre, Henrik Sedin and Jordan Schroeder.

Mike Gillis, I'd imagine, is thanking his lucky stars that Jordan Schroeder has proven himself to be an NHL-caliber center this season.Schroeder's line has been unlucky of late, but his grouping with David Booth and Mason Raymond has slaughtered their opponents in terms of puck possession since being united five games back. If that's your second line, you're not necessarily screwed, especially if you boast two goaltenders of Schendier and Luongo's quality, a nails top-line and a solid if inconsistent defensive group.

On the other hand, Kesler is Vancouver's single most important special teams player and without him I'd expect a lot of "trap it up" snoozers from the Canucks over the next month and a half. Whatever works though, right?

Kesler's absence is a T-Rex sized pill too swallow, there's no doubt about that. But at least it's not the postseason and at least according to Alain Vigneault, Kesler could be back in the lineup by then. That's when the rubber meets the road and that's what this particular club will be judged on anyway.

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Thomas Drance lives in Toronto, eats spicy food and writes about hockey. He is an NHL News Editor at theScore, the ex-managing editor of CanucksArmy.com and an opinionated blowhard to boot. You can follow him on twitter @thomasdrance.
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#1 khlhfs
February 27 2013, 06:08PM
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Thank god for Schroeder.

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#2 Wetcoaster
February 27 2013, 07:55PM
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With this string of injuries, is Kesler the new Salo?

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#3 Jesse
February 27 2013, 09:15PM
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Ugh. Don't even mention Ebbett in the top six. Brings back horrible memories.

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#4 Joel
February 27 2013, 09:35PM
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Wetcoaster wrote:

With this string of injuries, is Kesler the new Salo?

Kesler was always the Salo of the forwards.

Salo just had a few more years to accumulate the injuries, and Kesler had a penchant for playing through injuries and making them worse.

At least Kesler hasn't been bitten by a snake. Yet.

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#5 BrudnySeaby
February 28 2013, 12:01AM
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Wouldn't be surprised to see the following C's: 2. Schroeder, 3. Lapierre, 4. Ebbett. Ah well, hopefully we'll make the play-offs and then we'll have a fresh Kesler, instead of AV running him into the ground.

Thomas, would you agree that this makes a trade involving one of our goalies for a centre more likely?

And if not, hopefully the Canucks pick up some players at the trade deadline.

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#7 Joel
February 28 2013, 02:11AM
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Thomas Drance wrote:

@Brudny my vague sense of it is that this won't impact a potential Luongo deal, besides limiting VAN's leverage a tick in a trade for a top-six center. More likely, I could see VAN upgrading with a competent fourth line center (Steckel, maybe? He's been a frequent scratch in Toronto this year) for, like, a mid-round pick.

I agree. Kesler will be back for the playoffs, so I see it more like how Gillis brought in Lapierre in 2010 (2nd rounder given up in the trade?)

If they can pull the trigger on a good deal for either goalie, sure. But as long as Gillis can count in Kesler being back for the playoffs, he doesn't need to get a top six center back, as nice as it would be. A solid 3rd/4th line center to work with Lapierre and eat up the hard minutes is a bigger priority.

That being said... I would really like them to throw an offer sheet at O'Reilly. All it would cost is draft picks, and A) our draft position will be horrible anyways; B) You can almost guarantee a first rounder can be worked into any goalie trade; and C) O'Reilly is only 22, and combine him, Jensen, Schroeder and Kassian, and all of a sudden the team doesn't seem quite so old.

But that is probably just a pipe dream, the money he wants would probably mean Booth needs to go, and Raymond wouldn't be re-signed, plus we already need to lose one of the Dmen.

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#8 Daniel W.
February 28 2013, 06:42AM
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@Thomas Drance

Why not go for Jay McClement? I thought the Canucks would sign him this summer, but that never happened...

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