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The lack of scoring alongside Ryan Kesler became painfully apparent during the Stanley Cup Finals. Kesler, nursing an injured hip, often seemed to be on an island all by himself.
Finding a scoring winger seemed to be a top priority for the Canucks this offseason. With only a couple of weeks before training camp begins, they still don’t have that player.
So who will play next to Ryan Kesler this season?
Mikael Samuelsson returns from injury and could reclaim his spot on the second line. Samuelsson had a career year two seasons ago playing with Kesler but regressed last season and fought through some injuries in the playoffs.
If healthy, he should play there again, but who will man the other wing?
Mayson Raymond has taken that spot for most of the past two seasons. He also regressed last season, was nearly invisible during the playoffs and will not be ready to go when the season starts due to the serious neck injury he suffered in the finals.
Even if healthy, Raymond may not be the best choice.
The other options? The Canucks brought in Marco Sturm hoping that he is healthy, and if he is, he might step in to the second line. Chris Higgins showed some moments last season playing alongside Kesler.
Jannik Hansen could be a dark horse to play on the second line again. Hansen is a speedy player who struggles at times with his hands but has the potential to be a contributor.
Whoever ends up on Kesler’s line will need to provide some scoring punch or else the Canucks might end up on the short end of things once again this spring.