Canucks defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson is Out for “Some Weeks”

Photo: NHL.com

Vancouver head coach Rick Tocchet said on Saturday that defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (OEL) would be out for “some weeks” after sustaining an ankle injury in a game against the New York Rangers last Wednesday.

Ekman-Larsson, who’s had a less-than-desirable season for a player with a cap hit of $8.25 million, had scored only two goals in 54 games played in 2022-23, adding 20 assists before getting injured.

OEL wasn’t the only bad news regarding Vancouver’s defense on Saturday; Travis Dermott was placed on the IR. In a corresponding move, the Canucks recalled Christian Wolanin for the American Hockey League Abbotsford Canucks.

While it’s no understatement to say the Vancouver Canucks are having a disappointing season. They sit sixth in the NHL Pacific Division and 15 points behind the Minnesota Wild for the Western Conference Wildcard-2 spot with a 22-30-4 record.

What looks like a lost season in Vancouver, now would be a perfect time, with injuries mounting, to give some of their younger players in the AHL a chance to get some NHL experience.

Jack Rathbone would be the top call-up if Vancouver gave some of their youth a chance to play in the NHL.

Rathbone, a fourth-round pick (95th overall) in the 2017 NHL Draft. He has spent most of his professional playing career in the AHL, appearing in 41 games compared to 23 NHL games over three seasons after two seasons at Harvard University.

After averaging over a point a game in his first two seasons in the AHL, Rathbone experienced a down season so far with Abbotsford in 2022-23.

Jack Rathbone

AHL Stats

  • 2020/21 • 8 GP – 2G – 7A
  • 2021/22 • 39 GP – 10G – 30A
  • 2022/23 • 19 GP – 2G – 7A

What is the worst thing that can happen?

Simple. The Canucks are so bad they increase their chances in the NHL Draft Lottery and give themselves a better shot at landing a generational talent who currently plays in the Western Hockey League for the Regina Pats, one named Connor Bedard. Who happens to be from North Vancouver, British Columbia.

Plays like this would make Canucks fans forget about the 2022-23 season.

It’s usually not a good thing for a team to have injuries this time of year but With the #NHLTradeDeadline on March 3 less than two weeks away, having already traded away Bo Horvat to the New York Islanders could look to move other players, such as Luke Schenn and Brock Boeser, maybe the Ekman-Larsson injury helps makes accepting losing in the short term for long term gain a bit easier and allow the franchise to evaluate what they may or may not have come through the organization’s prospect pool.

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