With the injuries racking up, the Vancouver Canucks are walking a thin line as they try to fight for a wild card playoff spot. New acquisition Ryan Spooner suddenly becomes a key player in trying to get this team to the postseason.
Just when you think the Vancouver Canucks couldn’t get hit with the injury bug any worse, more and more guys just keep getting banged up.
In the midst of a career season, 22-year-old Jake Virtanen has been ruled out for a month with a fractured rib, head coach Travis Green announced Monday. As if it wasn’t hard enough for the Canucks to deal with injuries to their top defencemen in Alexander Edler (concussion), and Chris Tanev (ankle).
Brandon Sutter and Sven Baertschi — two of Vancouver’s most important forwards — are also injured. Goalie Thatcher Demko will hopefully return soon, because Jacob Markstrom will need more rest over the final two months of the season.
Entering play on Tuesday, the Canucks are one point behind the Minnesota Wild for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. It’s going to be difficult for the Canucks to keep pace with all these injuries, but they can do it. This is a resilient group.
One key to Vancouver’s playoff push will be new acquisition Ryan Spooner, whom general manager Jim Benning acquired from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for Sam Gagner. Vancouver’s depth has taken a huge hit, meaning Green has to lean aplenty on his new centre down the stretch.
And who knows? Maybe Spooner will be quite the reclamation project from Benning, who turned the likes of Baertschi and Markus Granlund into useful players after they struggled to become impact players for the Calgary Flames.
Sure, Spooner only had three points in 25 games for Edmonton before the trade. But this man is just three years removed from a 49-point season with the Boston Bruins. And let’s not forget he had 41 points last season, split with the Bruins and New York Rangers.
Spooner just wasn’t a fit on a struggling Oilers team. For all we know, Spooner could fit in nicely as Green’s No. 3 centre. He won’t be much of a shutdown centre, but Spooner might be able to generate offence in the bottom-six. That’s what Vancouver needs during this difficult postseason push.
With many of his key forwards sidelined, coach Green has no choice but to give Spooner the ice time and opportunities to produce. Perhaps Spooner will flourish with his new team immediately and regain that form we saw in Boston.
And if he can do that, Spooner might be a player that ends up helping Vancouver reach the postseason for the first time in four years. That would be quite the story.