Oct 17, 2011, 4:20 PM EST
The Selke Trophy winner has been sidelined since undergoing off-season hip surgery. Kesler had optimistically hoped to be back for the start of the regular season, but soreness wouldn’t allow him to return. In fact, many thought he would be out until November.
The Canucks shipped rookie defenseman Chris Tanev to the Chicago Wolves of the AHL in order to open up a roster spot. The move wasn’t indicative of Tanev’s play; they just didn’t want to lose anyone to waivers, and Tanev can be moved up and down freely.
What will be interesting to watch now is what the Canucks do with Cody Hodgson. The much-touted (and similarly much-maligned) prospect has played well in Kesler’s absence, but finds himself on a team with four NHL centers (Kesler, Henrik Sedin, Manny Malhotra and Maxim Lapierre).
Malhotra has taken a few shifts on the wing this season, and that could be one way to keep Hodgson up, if that’s what the organization decides to do. However, Canucks coach Alain Vigneault still doesn’t seem completely sold on Hodgson’s NHL readiness.
“He’s doing some things out there that we like as far as things to do with the puck,” Vigneault said last week. “There are certain areas he needs to get better at and we’ve discussed it with him. You’ve got a young man there who really wants to work hard and try to find his way on a consistent basis in the NHL.”
But that’s getting ahead of things. In the meantime, the Canucks will just be happy to have Kesler back. Secondary scoring has been a glaring issue over Vancouver’s first five games — Canuck forwards have combined for 11 goals, six of them courtesy the Sedins and Alex Burrows, the three players who comprise the top line.
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