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.