Are The Vancouver Canucks Better Off With Ryan Kesler At Center Or Wing?

By Randy Holt
Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

When the Vancouver Canucks hit the ice on Monday against the Nashville Predators, in the first leg of their back-to-back, they could be looking at a bit of a different strategy in their lineup. One of their key players in the middle could be looking at more time out on the wing.

Ryan Kesler has been big for the Canucks in the first couple of games since his return from his latest injury. Kesler spent about a month and a half on the shelf with a foot injury, returning last week, on April 8th. When he’s been in the lineup, he’s been very solid this year. And that has continued in his three games since his return.

In that trio of games, Kesler has four points. He has a goal and three assists, running his total up to a pair of goals to go along with seven assists on the year. He’s continued to demonstrate success in the middle. So why is Alain Vigneault toying with the option of moving him out to the wing?

When the Canucks take on the Preds on Monday night, it’s very likely that we’ll see some of Kesler on the wing. It’s an interesting decision by Vigneault, who described the move as nothing more than the fact that the system doesn’t mean much of a difference for centers and wingers, outside of the faceoff circle.

But if Vigneault is planning on taking Kesler out of the faceoff circle and moving him outside entirely, it’s a decision that doesn’t make much sense. This is a Selke Trophy candidate in the middle for the Canucks. He’s a wizard in the faceoff circle, winning 56 percent of his draws this season, on top of that strong play at both ends of the ice.

Which is why this move wouldn’t make much sense. Now if the Canucks are going to lineup in a way that will allow Kesler to take faceoffs and jump back out onto the wing, then it makes a bit more sense. But until we actually see this new strategy in action, we’ll just have to wonder how it will play out for Vancouver.

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