By Allan Muir
It was a good news/bad news day for the Vancouver Canucks.
The good news? Second-line center Ryan Kesler is set to make his season debut Friday night against Dallas.
Kesler had been sidelined by offseason shoulder surgery and only today wore a jersey at practice that showed him eligible for contact. Though he’s probably weeks away from being 100 percent, his return will provide a huge boost for a team that never sufficiently filled the massive hole he left in the top six. Two years ago he was a critical part of a team that advanced to the finals, scoring 41 goals and 73 points in a breakthrough season. His numbers dipped last year as he struggled with various injuries, but he remained a valued two-way contributor.
The Vancouver Sun reported that he skated on a line with Zack Kassian and Chris Higgins at practice Thursday and also saw time with the first power play unit.
But the joy over Kesler’s return was tempered by the announcement that veteran center Manny Malhotra had been placed on injured reserve and would be lost for the season.