rThe Vancouver Canucks injury ward is about as popular as The Pint on 3-for-1 drink nights.
(Note, The Pint does not have 3-for-1 drink nights. If that changes, I’ll be the first to let you know).
Brandon Sutter was the latest Canuck to go down, and a separated shoulder should keep him out for 4-6 weeks. He’s now the sixth Canuck to land on the shelf from the opening night roster, joining Sven Baertschi (concussion), Jay Beagle (fractured forearm), Alex Edler (MCL sprain), Anders Nilsson (fractured finger), and Chris Tanev (hip).
Of all those injuries, only Tanev is day-to-day. The rest of the players on that list are out for at least a couple more weeks.
This barrage of injuries will bring on opportunity for a bunch of players on this roster. Here’s three players who stand to gain the most over the next few weeks.
After posting four points in four games with the Utica Comets, Gaudette was given a golden opportunity to cement his place in the lineup when Beagle was forced from action for four-to-six weeks.
With Sutter now on the shelf, Gaudette is next in line for big-time minutes with the Canucks.
Gaudette: I'm excited for the added responsibility, it's tough to see teammates go down. Things like that happen though in hockey and guys get to step up - I'm looking to step up and hopefully take on a bigger role and show what I got.— Sportsnet 650 (@Sportsnet650) October 31, 2018
This organization will now get a chance to see their “projected future” 1-2-3 punch at center much earlier than anyone expected. Gaudette already saw his ice time jump to 12:15 against the Wild after registering his first career point against the Coyotes. Now that Sutter’s injured, could Gaudette stat to see 14-15 minutes per game?
Wednesday’s contest against the Blackhawks will be Gaudette’s eighth game of the season, and he’s gotten better with each passing matchup. It was surprising to see him get scratched against Pittsburgh, but look for Gaudette’s minutes to increase.
Seeing Markus Granlund lineup with Bo Horvat against the Wild was a telling sign.
With Goldobin, Pettersson and Boeser forming a promising top line, I think most would have expected to see wingers Loui Eriksson, Jake Virtanen, or Brendan Leipsic line up with Horvat.
Instead, Travis Green chose Tim Schaller and Markus Granlund.
Despite the surprising choice, both players stood out against Minnesota. Granlund was especially effective, scoring his first non-empty net goal of the season. Over the past 12 months, Granlund has always played like a guy who looks injured, but the Oulu, Finland native went full-tilt and was all over the ice against Minnesota on Monday.
Injuries to Sutter and Beagle also mean that Granlund’s ice time on the penalty kill is going to increase. Among healthy Canucks forwards, Tyler Motte and Granlund are #1 and #2 in time-on-ice per game on the penalty kill.
However, Granlund’s chance to re-establish himself as offensive player will continue for at least another game.
#Canucks lines & D pairs in morning skate:— Joey Kenward (@kenwardskorner) October 31, 2018
There wasn’t a ton of pressure on Jacob Markstrom coming into the season, but a solid performance from Anders Nilsson changed the outlook.
I don’t know if there were many who foresaw Nilsson getting four straight starts in the first ten Canucks games prior to the season, but after a couple of mediocre Markstrom starts, Nilsson jumped on his opportunity.
From that point, it was abundantly clear that the starting goalie job was up for grabs.
In the AHL, Green often gave his starting netminders a share of the action. He only played a goalie more than 45 games once during his four years in the AHL, when he had Jocaim Ericsson 52 starts. The backup in Utica that year, was Joe Cannata.
Markstrom did look solid against the Wild on Monday, and Green heaped praise on his performance. The Canucks play ten games in the next three weeks, and a strong performance from Markstrom will bode well for him picking up another 60 starts this season.