The Vancouver Canucks head into the summer facing some pretty big decisions. One was already made, as Alain Vigneault was shown the door, as expected. Once the organization hires a new head coach, the questions will shift over to the players actually on the ice.
A big shakeup could be on the horizon as the Canucks try and build a team that can be successful in the playoffs, rather than the team that has been a massive disappointment for several years in a row. However, it won’t require a total shakeup throughout the entire roster. For some players, it’s just a matter of staying healthy.
One player who seems to have had an impossible time staying healthy over the course of the last couple years has been Ryan Kesler. Whether it’s the wrist, or shoulder, or broken foot as it was for most of this year, Kesler has been in and out of the Vancouver lineup at an alarming rate.
He played in 77 games last year, but with a dip of nearly 30 points in his point production, it was pretty clear that he was playing hurt for much of 2011-12. In 2013, he managed to appear in just 17 games for the Canucks, but he did manage to finish the year with 17 points.
For Kesler, it’s not a matter of performing. It’s a matter of staying in the lineup. When he’s actually in the lineup, he’s one of the more effective forwards in the league. He’s an upper tier two-way center, providing solid offense and very strong defense, including being one of the top faceoff men in the league.
Kesler and his health is far from the only thing holding this team back from shaking off years of postseason disappointment. But if he’s able to come in and have a healthy season next year, instead of trying to get healthy as he goes during the postseason, it would go a long way towards improving this team’s playoff fortunes.