The Canucks are down at least a man as they head to California for a crucial three-game road trip.
Brandon Sutter was placed on the injured reserve list ahead of Monday night’s home game against the San Jose Sharks.
The centre is out with a “lower body” injury, Canucks general manager Jim Benning told Postmedia.
Whether the team recalls Adam Gaudette or another player — or no player at all — would be decided after Monday’s game, he said.
It’s been a tough go for Sutter the last 18 months. He missed two months earlier this year with a separated shoulder and last season he dealt with a serious hip injury that knocked him out of action for 20-plus games.
And then there’s the Markstrom question.
The big Swede was absent from Sunday’s practice, with the team saying he and Sutter both needed maintenance days.
The Canucks had a very optional morning skate on Monday morning, but Markstrom didn’t appear.
It wasn’t until pre-game that rumblings surfaced that backup Mike DiPietro, an emergency call-up from junior because of a knee injury for Thatcher Demko, would get the start.
Shortly before puck drop, the Canucks announced “Markstrom will not be available to play tonight’s game.” He sat on the bench, but he would not have been able to play; the Canucks had emergency back-up Rylan Toth ready and waiting in the dressing room should they have needed him.
That meant an emergency back-up for the emergency back-up was also made available.
Markstrom’s status for the coming road trip is vital. DiPietro got little help from his mates against the Sharks; he’s an athletic, talented prospect, but he’s far from NHL ready.
If Markstrom can’t go…oh boy. They currently have no other healthy goalie on an NHL deal in the system. They’d have to sign an AHL goalie — like current Utica No. 2 man Michael Leighton — or someone like Jeremy Smith, currently in Bridgeport; Chris Driedger, had a .921 in AHL in 13 games this year; Jamie Phillips had a .912 in AHL last year and is in ECHL now; or perhaps guys like Ken Appleby or Jeff Glass.
This is some pickle in the crease the Canucks could find themselves in.
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