Ryan Kesler will be ready for the next NHL season following offseason shoulder and wrist surgeries — if the schedule commences in December because of a possible lockout — and Eddie Lack will be ready to accept a suitable contract and take another development step with the Chicago Wolves.
The clarity comes from their agent Kurt Overhardt. Last week, it was suggested by general manager Mike Gillis on the TEAM 1040 that Kesler was “slightly ahead” of schedule from May 8 shoulder surgery. It may have given the impression that if start of the season isn’t jeopardized by failure to reach a new collective bargaining agreement, the Vancouver Canucks centre would perhaps return in October — even though the sixth-month recovery window would be Nov. 8. That’s simply not the case, according to his agent.
“It’s not happening,” Overhardt said Thursday. “He’s not ahead of schedule and there’s no rushing him back. He’s on course to return in December and he’s not returning until he’s 100 per cent. Don’t expect him until December.”
That’s not the only issue with Kesler. He also had minor surgery on his left wrist June 27. Two days later on his Twitter account, a group picture showed Kesler in a sling and his wrist in a cast with a caption that read: ‘Great times in Michigan.’
“He had been experiencing some mild discomfort and had some tendon issues that needed to be cleaned up,” confirmed Canucks assistant general manager Laurence Gilman.
It explains a lot. Occasional hip-flexor stiffness from a previous procedure, a wonky shoulder and a bothersome wrist greatly affected Kesler’s shot and battle level last season in dropping from a career-high 41 goals to 22 and no goals in five playoff games. After amassing 17 points in a 15-game span in December, scoring in five-consecutive games from Jan. 31 to Feb. 9, he then went eight without a goal. He suffered a torn labrum in his left shoulder on Feb. 9 but played through it.
The Kesler recovery adds fuel to the fire that the Canucks may consider unrestricted free agent centre Jason Arnott as a third-line centre, who could also fill in on the second line. While the Canucks are high on Jordan Schroeder and could use Maxim Lapierre in that capacity, they also need a veteran presence and size to push for a return to postseason prominence.