Vancouver Canucks: Mason Raymond Return Impending, What Do the Canucks Do?

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Vancouver Canucks: Mason Raymond Return Impending, What Do the Canucks Do?
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The Vancouver Canucks seem to finally have their season and lineup sorted out only to have it once again disrupted with the impending return of Mason Raymond to the active roster. Raymond practiced with the team for the first time since suffering a broken back against the Boston Bruins on June 13, 2011 in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Now Raymond has no set timeline for his return, but it could be sooner rather than later.

With his return approaching, Raymond's spot in the lineup on second line wing is currently occupied by rookie and Canucks top prospect Cody Hodgson. When Ryan Kesler returned to the lineup in early October the same topic was discussed, what do the Canucks do with Cody Hodgson?

Now with the way the second line of the Canucks is beginning to gel, it is less likely that General Manager Mike Gillis would make a move involving Hodgson.

In fact, the return of Raymond provides the team with a chance to allow third line center Manny Malhotra an opportunity to work on his conditioning and return to form. Raymond will most likely start on the third line, and although that leaves them without a natural center, both Raymond and Chris Higgins have experience taking draws in the past. 

Another road the Canucks could take would be to nurse Raymond back into the lineup by way of the fourth line. The one constantly open spot on the Canucks lineup would be that which is currently filled by Aaron Volpatti on the wing of Max Lapierre.

Raymond could hypothetically skate here until he returns to form, but that still leaves Gillis and the Canucks with the issue of what to do with Hodgson or whoever else could be moved to make room for Raymond. 

As of right now, there does not seem to be any concrete plan to do anything drastic. It is hard to imagine Gillis moving any of the Canucks stars at this point in time, but it is also hard to imagine Raymond playing fourth line minutes, which appears to be where he will slide into the lineup at this point in time. 

What do you think the Canucks will do when Mason Raymond returns to the lineup? Sound off in the comments!

John Bain is a Bleacher Report Featured Columnist.

Follow him on Twitter: @John_Bain

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