Ryan Kesler is injured again. After starting the season late because of an injury, the Vancouver Canucks forward is now out again with a foot injury that will keep him out for about six weeks.
Which takes us to the middle of April. Which takes us to the trade deadline. Which means the Canucks are going to have to take a good, long look at their roster and decide what they plan to do to replace him on the roster. He was performing well, with five points in the seven games he did play before hitting injured reserve.
Kesler is a Selke Trophy-winning forward. It’s not going to be easy to replace him, and it will be nearly impossible to do so from inside the organization. Which means that the Canucks are probably going to have to make a move to replace that presence in the middle. They were already light in the middle to begin with.
If the Canucks are going to jump into trade talks and acquire a center capable of doing what Kesler can do, they’re going to have to bring Roberto Luongo‘s name into talks.
Luongo was the subject of trade rumors last summer and early on this season. But he’s played very well early on, which has helped to slow some of those rumors, especially when Cory Schneider was struggling to begin the year.
With Schneider playing a bit better of late, the Canucks could be free to deal their insurance policy in Luongo. But where is the market for him? Better yet, who would be interested in him that could send a center back to Vancouver in return? There’s really only one team: the Florida Panthers.
The Panthers have Stephen Weiss, who is likely very available. He’s capable of playing in the top six, and the Canucks would probably want to take him on, among others. That’s assuming the Panthers would have interest in Luongo still, or if they want to take a longer look at Jacob Markstrom.
Regardless of that situation, the Canucks are going to have to look to make a move. For a team that was already thin on center depth, this Kesler injury was awful news. It will be interesting to see how they plan to replace him in the lineup moving forward, especially as April nears.