Feb 15, 2013, 2:14 PM EST
Vancouver center Ryan Kesler will play in his first regular season game of the year on Friday when the Canucks take on the Dallas Stars at Rogers Arena.
Kesler, 28, spent the offseason and lockout recovering from shoulder and wrist injuries — both of which required surgery — and returned to practice in a non-contact capacity last week.
“I flipped AV’s coin and it said I’m playing,” Kesler told reporters on Friday, alluding to head coach Alain Vigneault’s ongoing joke that he flips a coin to decide which goalie to start on a nightly basis.
His return will be a huge boost to the Canucks lineup. The former 40-goal scorer had 22G-27A-49PTS last season while averaging over 20 minutes per contest.
Kesler represented the Canucks at the 2011 NHL All-Star Game and also won that year’s Frank J. Selke Award, given annually to the league’s top defensive forward.
To make room for Kesler, the Canucks put center Manny Malhotra on injured reserve yesterday, announcing that the 32-year-old veteran would not play for the remainder of the season.
Ryan Kesler: “I’m fully convinced it’s not too early. It’s pretty exciting for myself. It’s been a long road.” #canucks
— Elliott Pap (@ElliottPap) February 15, 2013
- Roberto Luongo records the shutout in first game back with Panthers 13
- Steve Moore remains shocked, disgusted about Todd Bertuzzi attack 42
- Canucks’ Kassian gets three games for boarding Dillon 26
- TGIF: Why Lightning fans can be upset with St. Louis 31
- Goalie nods: Luongo’s first game back with Panthers, Neuvirth makes Sabres debut 12
- Report: Kuznetsov terminated KHL deal, headed to Washington 20
- Canucks’ Bieksa: ‘If this isn’t rock bottom, I don’t know what is’ 34
- Luongo has Twitter fun at Canucks’ expense 36
- Sabres spoil Callahan’s Lightning debut, Stamkos’ return 7
- Dealing with the Devils: NHL reverses Kovalchuk punishment 49
- Canucks trade Luongo to Panthers (93)
- BLOCKBUSTER: Lightning trade St. Louis to Rangers for Callahan (82)
- Kings make splash, acquire Gaborik from Columbus (72)
- Report: Canucks want center, top prospect and first-rounder for Kesler (68)
- Sabres announce Pat LaFontaine resigns as president of hockey operations (66)