Five burning questions facing the Vancouver Canucks this season

 

 
 
 
 
Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks skates at Vancouver's Rogers Arena on Tuesday after the morning session of his team's NHL training camp.
 

Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks skates at Vancouver's Rogers Arena on Tuesday after the morning session of his team's NHL training camp.

Photograph by: Ward Perrin, PNG

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1. Just how long will Ryan Kesler be out of the Canuck lineup?

The messages are mixed. His agent said in mid-December that it would be months, not weeks, until the feisty second-line centre was ready for action following wrist and shoulder surgeries last spring.

Canuck GM Mike Gillis hinted this week that Kesler’s spot won’t be vacant for long. Chalk this one up to the X-File: The truth is out there somewhere.

2. How many groin strains, hamstring and hip flexor injuries will flare up in this first month?

The Canucks are an aging team with nine players age 30 and older and we all know what the aging process does to the human body.

David Booth, still a kid at 28, suffered the first serious groin injury (out four to six weeks) of the lockout-shortened season and it could become an epidemic.

Forget the sleep doctor, the Canucks might need a soft tissue specialist on staff.

3. Can Cory Schneider live up to expectations?

In his two seasons as the backup netminder, Schneider has been stupendous, posting a 36-12-3 record with four shutouts. Last season he was 20-8-1 with a 1.96 goals against average and .937 save percentage, the latter second best in the league behind only St. Louis Blue Brian Elliott at .940.

The hockey world will be watching.

4. Are the Sedin twins players in decline? They receive all the quality power-play time, the quality four-on-four time and start numerous shifts in the offensive zone yet Henrik has dropped from 112 points to 94 to 81 despite not missing a single game.

Daniel, meanwhile, sunk from 104 points to 67, although he did sit out 10 games last season because of injury.

5. Will Zack Kassian blossom?

The big winger will forever be compared to Cody Hodgson, the offensive centre who was dealt away to Buffalo at last year’s trade deadline.

Kassian and Hodgson are totally different types so Kassian will have to prove he can be both a power forward and contribute some offence. He had just one goal in 17 games last season after the trade.

The Booth injury will provide him with a bigger opportunity than initially expected.

epap@vancouversun.com

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Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks skates at Vancouver's Rogers Arena on Tuesday after the morning session of his team's NHL training camp.
 

Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks skates at Vancouver's Rogers Arena on Tuesday after the morning session of his team's NHL training camp.

Photograph by: Ward Perrin, PNG

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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