The Anaheim Ducks took to the ice for the start of training camp today, and they were without several of their key players. While Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen work to come back from shoulder surgeries, Ducks’ GM Bob Murray told reporters (including Eric Stephens of the Orange Country Register) that there is no timeline on Ryan Kesler’s return from hip surgery. Murray said he hopes to have his center back by Christmas.
That would be much longer than initially expected, as he was originally only expected to be out 12 weeks. Given the surgery happened on June 8th, that estimate would have put him back on the ice earlier this month, not deep into the season. Initial timelines like that are often misleading, but it’s definitely not good news that Kesler won’t be back on the ice to start the year. The team already had question marks at center behind Ryan Getzlaf and Kesler, and will now likely have to rely on Rickard Rakell in the middle to start the year.
Behind him though, it gets less inspiring. Antoine Vermette will be back, but is a better fit for the fourth line than third, and youngster Sam Steel will almost certainly be heading back to the CHL to captain the Regina Pats this year. Perhaps there is still a move to be made for Anaheim, who have their sights set on the playoffs once again but will have a tough start to the year without some of their star players.