VANCOUVER — That’s one measure of the injury woes Vancouver Canucks faces when the National Hockey League season begins Monday’s winger rankings Ilya Mikheyev and defenders Tyler Myers and Travis Dermott on Injured Reserve is actually good news.
Coach Bruce Boudreau said last week that Myers, out with one lower body injury, would miss 2-4 weeks. The back end of that timeframe made the $6 million defenseman a Long Term Injured Reserve candidate, which would have meant missing at least 10 games to start the season.
But the IR designation, retroactive to when he was injured last week, allows Myers to return any time after Vancouver’s season opener on Wednesday, although it’s unclear if he will travel on the team’s five-game road trip , beginning against Edmonton. Oilers.
Dermott suffered a concussion in training on September 27, two days after Mikheyev suffered a lower body injury during the Canucks’ first pre-season game.
Mikheyev practiced Monday in a non-contact jersey, and Boudreau said the speedy winger, who signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent in July, could work out with the team Friday in Philadelphia, ahead of Game 2 Saturday against the Flyers.
There is no indication that Dermott’s return is imminent. But winger Brock Boeser, whose hand injury on the final day of training camp on Sept. 24 cost him the entire preseason, is expected to practice fully Tuesday and could play in Edmonton.
The positive development was offset by the absence of top defender Quinn Hughes from Monday’s practice, which Boudreau said is dealing with a “flu-like” non-COVID illness. Hughes skated last Friday morning before being scratched from last night’s 4-0 preseason win against the Arizona Coyotes.
The string of injuries and absences disrupted the Canucks’ 2-3-2 pre-season and dulled the energy the team carried into training camp after finishing last season 32-15-10 under Boudreau.
Boeser and Mikheyev are top-six wings, while Myers is the Canucks’ No. 3 defenseman.
“It’s played a little bit of havoc with what you dreamed of as your lineup in the summer,” Boudreau said of the preseason absence. “But I mean, I’m sure every team goes through this at some point. Hopefully we can get through it and it’s the beginning and once we get healthy, we stay healthy. It comes with the territory. I don’t think we had a full lineup at all last year since I’ve been here. It’s just moving on and the next man up and they have to show they can play in the league.”
There were few surprises in the 22-man active roster Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin announced Monday afternoon.
The inclusion of rookie Danila Klimovich among 13 active forwards is a bookkeeping move to maximize the Canucks’ LTIR advantage, as the 19-year-old will almost certainly start the season in the American Hockey League.
Swedish rookie Nils Aman, a 22-year-old former Colorado Avalanche draft pick who signed with the Canucks as a free agent in June, has made the inaugural roster as a speedy, defensive-savvy checker who could center the fourth line.
The most impactful newcomer should be 26-year-old Russian winger Andrei Kuzmenko, who opted to sign with the Canucks as a free agent over the summer after scoring 53 points in 45 games last season in the Kontinental Hockey League. He has looked dangerous offensively since training camp opened and should be a staple of a very good Vancouver power play.
The seven-man defense includes rookie Jack Rathbone and Riley Stillman, the depth defenseman acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday.
After subdued competition for the backup role, Spencer Martin is the No. 2 goalie behind starter Thatcher Demko.
Outfielder Micheal Ferland, whose career is largely over due to recurring concussion issues, will start the season on LTIR.
After opening the season Wednesday against Connor McDavid and the Oilers and then visiting the Flyers on Saturday, the Canucks’ first road trip concludes with three games in four nights against the Washington Capitals, Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild.
A better start than last season is imperative for the Canucks, who went 6-14-2 in the first quarter last year, playing themselves out of playoff contention and costing coach Travis Green and general manager Jim Benning their jobs.