Sportsnet's Irfaan Gaffer saw Higgins walking around in a walking boot while the Canucks practiced ahead of their second preseason game tonight versus San Jose earlier in the day.
Chris Higgins has a walking boot on right foot. Blocked shot and left game last night. #Canucks— Irfaan Gaffar (@sportsnetirf) September 22, 2015
Further tests today concluded that Higgins has a fractured bone in his right foot, the club announced via this tweet:
INJURY UPDATE: Further tests revealed a bone fracture in Chris Higgins' foot. He will be re-evaluated in three weeks. #Canucks— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) September 23, 2015
Although nobody likes to ever see an player go down with an injury -- especially from blocking a shot this early in the season-- there is a silver lining for Canucks prospects vying for a roster spot with the dependable Higgins being out for some time.
Could Ronalds Kenins be all but guaranteed an opening night roster spot? Does Jake Virtanen's versatility of being able to play both sides of the wing give him a shot at making the team as a left-winger? Does management take a closer look at either Hunter Shinkaruk or Brendan Gaunce to fill the void of the 32-year-old injured New York native? What about the outside chances of Nicklas Jensen and Alexandre Grenier competing for a spot?
With the Higgins injury, you can bet that preseason just got a helluva lot more competitive.
You can see the how the injured occurred below, courtesy of a GIF from the wonderful Stephanie Vail (@myregularface).
higgins injury pic.twitter.com/b4toYP3KXy— Stephanie (@myregularface) September 22, 2015
Did Chris Higgins just significantly increase his chances for the John Tortorella coached Team USA team at the World Cup of Hockey next year by blocking a shot in a meaningless pre-season game?
Lineups for tonight:
#Canucks forward lines for tonight vs. SJ. Sedins-Kenins Prust-Vey-Dorsett Burrows-Cassels-Virtanen Shinkaruk-McCann-Friesen— Grady S (@GradySas) September 22, 2015
Canucks d-pairs and tenders for tonight vs. SJ: Hamhuis-Weber Hutton-Fedun Pedan-Corrado Miller Cannata— Grady S (@GradySas) September 22, 2015
A few things to take away here:
First off, Brandon Prust, Cole Cassels, Jake Virtanen, Jared McCann, Andrey Pedan and Taylor Fedun will make their unofficial debuts in a Vancouver Canucks uniform tonight.
Ronalds Kenins is joining Henrik and Daniel on the Canucks top line. While this is probably just a preseason experiment, it'll be interesting to see the Latvian Lokomotiv head hard to the net to bang in those Sedin tap-ins, or clean up the garbage in front. It's clear that the coaching staff wants a bit more truculence from whomever is playing with the Sedins, something Radim Vrbata lacked significantly in the playoffs last year.
Linden Vey centres Brandon Prust and Derek Dorsett, likely the Canucks 4th line come opening night. Will the smaller sized Linden Vey be sheltered by Prust and Dorsett, or will Canucks fans see the reported progress (or GGGGAAAAAAINNNNNZZZ as the cool kids say) on Vey's frail-ish 6-foot, 189-pound frame?
Alex Burrows rides shotgun on the rugged third line with youngsters Cole Cassels and Jake Virtanen. I don't know about you, but this line intrigues the hell out of me. You have the annoying frenchman in Burrows who's a tremendous puck carrier and can execute clean zone entries down the rush, a solid right-handed 2-way centreman in Cassels that'll be crashing and banging to impress management and the coaching staff, and new fan favourite Jake "The Hitman" Virtanen.
Virtanen is a fearless competitor that is no stranger to becoming pubic enemy number one for the opposing team. LA Kings prospect Jordan Weal told me this summer that the Manchester Monarchs players did not appreciate Virtanen taking runs at guys or leaving his feet for hits in the Calder Cup final. Weal said that Virtanen was playing pretty cocky for an 18-year-old making his AHL debut in the playoffs, but noted that that's just the game Virtanen entails. Can Virtanen stay composed and avoid the extra curricular activity in post-whistle scrums? Will an NHL veteran take exception with Virtanen if he's taking extra steps at players tonight? Puck drop is at 7 PM and you can bet Canucks Nation will have their eyes set on that Canucks "third line."
Interesting to see Alex Friesen playing wing on the Canucks fourth line. Friesen was predominately the Utica Comets second line centre last season. With the additions of Blair Jones, Adam Cracknell, Cole Cassels, Joseph LaBate joining Mike Zalewski and Wacey Hamilton -- who can all play in the middle -- it's plausible that Friesen spends some time on the wing down on the farm this season. Friesen will play right-wing on a line centered by Jared McCann alongside Hunter Shinkaruk. Shinkaruk and McCann could be the Canucks first line LW and C for many years to come if all goes to plan.
Dan Hamhuis and Yannick Weber are paired together tonight. Expect to see those two as the Canucks second d-pairing this season. The real question is that if Willie Desjardins opts to go with Hamhuis and Weber on one of the Canucks PP units this season (please, no Hamhuis on the PP).
Ben Hutton will be paired with offseason acquisition Taylor Fedun. Hutton will play his second straight game in as many nights. Hutton was impressive in the Canucks first preseason game and displayed his smooth skating ability, something that could shoot him up the Canucks defensive depth chart rather quickly since the Canucks lack quality puck-moving d-men. Hutton's d-partner, Taylor Fedun, will be relied on heavily to carry the offensive load in Utica this season. The Comets lost leading point getter from the back end, Bobby Sanguinetti, to Buffalo via free agency.
Andrey Pedan will see his first game action after being knocked out by Stu Bickel in an AHL game back in January. The Canucks acquired Pedan from the New York Islanders in exchange for Alexandre Mallet and a third-round pick in November of 2014. The 6'5", 215 pounder will log a ton of shutdown minutes in Utica and could be make his way to the big club at some point this season. The Canucks will pair speedy defensive prospect Frankie Corrado with the bruising Russian defenceman.
Edit: it will be Alexandre Grenier slotting into the fourth line RW spot.
The Canucks won in overtime last night thanks to hometown hero Adam Cracknell getting all the time in the world to snipe one home.
Cracknell GWG pic.twitter.com/522zdvgahv— Stephanie (@myregularface) September 22, 2015
Couture says he's in for SJS. Marleau and Burns look like they'll go, too.— Jeff Paterson (@patersonjeff) September 22, 2015
Martin Jones makes his SJ Sharks debut tonight vs #Canucks. Pete DeBoer just told me he's not sure if Jones will go the distance— Jeff Paterson (@patersonjeff) September 22, 2015
Harvey Jones, #Canucks VP & GM of Arena Operations, will see his son Martin make his unofficial Sharks debut tonight in hometown of VAN.— Grady S (@GradySas) September 22, 2015
Looks like Tennyson & Mueller will play on consecutive nights for Sharks. Joel Ward will be in their line-up, too— Jeff Paterson (@patersonjeff) September 22, 2015
Canucks trim roster down by twelve.
Sandwiched between the back-to-back San Jose exhibition games and the Chris Higgins injury, the Canucks trimmed down their pre-season roster by twelve.
Jon Abbott of TSN 1040 confirmed earlier in the day that the Canucks sent defenceman Guillaume Brisebois and centre Dmitry Zhukenov to the QMJHL. Brisebois, picked 66th overall at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, will report back to the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, while Zhukenov, selected 114th at the draft, will suit up for the Chicoutimi Saguenees after being drafted out of the MHL (Russian Junior league).
Well, general manager Jim Benning wasn't done there. The club announced via this press release that Anton Cederholm, Dane Fox, Evan McEeny, Ashton Sautner, Mackenze Stewart and Jordan Subban were all assigned to the Utica Comets ahead of their training camp
Travis Ehrhardt, John Kurtz, Clay Witt and Mike Zalewski were released but will be attending Comets camp (Zalewski, Witt and Erhardt all have AHL contracts).
It's a little shocking, or "asinine" as I referred to on Twitter when the news broke that Jordan Subban didn't even appear in one measly exhibition game. Why didn't Subban dress in the Kraft Hockeyville game? How come Benning and co. didn't give Jordan a chance tonight on home ice tonight? The move may seem slightly eccentric given Subban suited up in last year's pre-season and actually scored.
The demotion for the rest of the Comets hopefuls made sense, but cutting Subban is a head-shaker.
I tried to come with a more logical notion on Subban being demoted (or waited for the hot take to burn away), and it's probably best for the long-term picture that he gets acclimated to his Utica teammates, and head coach Travis Green's coaching style and systems. Regardless, it's still very puzzling as to why they didn't give him at least one game since he's suited up for the Canucks before and didn't look out of place then, while also looking like one of the best defenceman at the Young Stars tournament in Penticton.