On Thursday, Jim Benning and Travis Green were asked if everyone was healthy to start camp. While the Canucks’ GM and head coach paused for a moment, they both confirmed that everyone was cleared to play.
“Everyone’s clear right now,” said Green and Benning echoed, “Everybody’s good to go that we know of right now.”
Unfortunately, it turns out that wasn’t exactly true, as it was announced Friday that Antoine Roussel will be held out of training camp with a concussion. Either Green and Benning were unaware of the concussion or thought he would be cleared by medical staff before the start of on-ice sessions in Whistler.
#Canucks forward Antoine Roussel will not participate in #CanucksCamp after sustaining a concussion during an informal scrimmage before arriving in Vancouver. He is currently undergoing a return to play protocol and skated under the supervision of #Canucks medical staff today.— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) September 14, 2018
The Canucks tend to have terrible luck with injuries, so it seems sadly appropriate that the best of the three free agents they signed in the off-season would suffer an injury before training camp has even begun. Roussel was reportedly blindsided in an informal scrimmage three weeks ago in Montreal and suffered a concussion. He’s still experiencing symptoms, so will sit for a few days.
That doesn’t mean Roussel is out long term. He told Joey Kenward on Thursday that he “looked forward to playing in the preseason” and gave no indication that he wasn't cleared to play. It seems notable that the Canucks are only reporting that he will miss training camp.
Roussel skated Friday morning under supervision of Canucks medical staff.
While it seems like Roussel will return to action before too long, concussions are unpredictable. He’s already been dealing with concussion symptoms for three weeks, so it’s advisable for the Canucks and Roussel to take a cautious approach.
Green has already said the first three games of the preseason will mainly feature young players and prospects, so a veteran like Roussel might have already waited until the away games later in the schedule before getting in the lineup. If Roussel is out for another week, that could mean a longer audition for left wingers like Nikolay Goldobin, Brendan Leipsic, Jonathan Dahlen, Petrus Palmu, and Brendan Gaunce.
If Roussel is unexpectedly out longer and misses the start of the regular season, that will open the doors to all sorts of intrigue. Would the Canucks keep both Goldobin and Leipsic in the lineup? Does Dahlen have a shot at playing on opening night? Or would the Canucks lean towards keep Gaunce and his shutdown game and send down Dahlen, who wouldn’t have to clear waivers?
At this point, that’s all hypothetical. As it appears right now, Roussel won’t be out for long.