The Canucks lost two centres to injury on Saturday, though one got a lot more attention than the other. After Elias Pettersson’s night was ended early by Michael Matheson, Jay Beagle left the game after blocking a slap shot by Mike Hoffman.
There’s no solid timeline for Pettersson, who reportedly has a concussion. Bob McKenzie has reported that he will miss at least 7-10 days, but could miss more. Concussions are tricky and symptoms can flare up days later.
Pettersson has remained on the road trip with the Canucks. The fact that he has been cleared to continue traveling with a team is potentially a positive, as it indicates the initial prognosis is a minor concussion and Pettersson isn’t dealing with symptoms that would prevent him from flying.
The timeline for Beagle, on the other hand, is a lot more solid, but also more long-term. Beagle has a fractured forearm and has returned to Vancouver. He’s expected to miss four to six weeks with the injury, which would mean missing 13-21 games.
It’s a tough break for Beagle, who is just five games into his four year contract with the Canucks. He suffered the injury doing what he came to Vancouver to do: whatever it takes.
Beagle took the shot in a vulnerable area, just above the cuff of his glove. When players extend their arms down to block shots, it can expose an unprotected part of the arm, uncovered by the elbow pads.
With both Beagle and Pettersson out, the Canucks needed to call up a centre from the Utica Comets. Adam Gaudette was the obvious answer.
The Canucks have limited options at centre on the farm. Tanner MacMaster has five points in four games while playing on the top line for Utica, but he’s not signed to a Canucks contract and has been playing on left wing. Tanner Kero, who the Canucks acquired for Michael Chaput, also has five points, but they’re all assists and he’s benefitted from a great goalscoring run by Reid Boucher. Zack MacEwen continue to play right wing, not centre.
Gaudette, on the other hand, is a big part of the Canucks future and has already proven he can hold his own in the NHL in his five-game stint last season. He made the Canucks think long and hard at training camp and in the preseason, as he was frequently the most exciting player on the ice for the Canucks. In the end, he didn’t do quite enough to overcome the convenience of him being waiver exempt.
In Utica, Gaudette has been skating at centre on the second or third line, and has been rapidly improving. While held off the scoresheet in Utica’s first two games, he has four points in his last two games, including a three-point night on Saturday.
He set up Darren Archibald with a pretty backdoor pass off the rush for his first point of the night.
Then Archibald returned the favour, setting up Gaudette in front, who stuck with his rebound while falling to the ice to shovel in his second goal in as many games.
Gaudette capped off his three points with an assist on Reid Boucher’s seventh goal of the season. Boucher is now up to 8 goals in five games, which is something to keep an eye on as the season progresses.
While Gaudette’s scoring is a good sign that he’s up to game speed, the Canucks will also need him to perform well defensively with Beagle out of the lineup. That’s why it’s equally important that Gaudette has been killing penalties in Utica and performing well in that role.
With Beagle out for so long, this is a great chance for Gaudette to establish himself this season and make it impossible for the Canucks to send him back down to the AHL.