As the story of Brandon Sutter’s recent injury has unraveled, the extent of the injury has in fact become less clear. After Sutter was forced out of Tuesday night’s game between the Vancouver Canucks and Nashville Predators, The Province’s Patrick Johnston writes that the veteran center was in good spirits and said his unknown ailment was “only minor”. GM Jim Benning backed that claim, stating that Sutter would go in for an MRI on Wednesday morning, but that he was hopeful that he wouldn’t miss much time. Yet, as Wednesday wore on, the Canucks made not one but a pair of additions up front, recalling Zack MacEwen and, more notably, a center in Tyler Graovac. As if the hint wasn’t enough that Sutter’s status wasn’t positive, TSN’s Jeff Paterson now points out that Sutter has officially been placed on the injured reserve.
While the move is retroactive to Tuesday, it still leaves Vancouver without Sutter for at least the next four games. He must spend a minimum of ten days out of the lineup while on IR, meaning he will miss match-ups with the Colorado Avalanche, two with the Dallas Stars, and a rematch with the Predators. He will also still be on the shelf when the Canucks depart on a six-game road trip, raising some question over whether he would meet the team on the road if healthy or if he could potentially miss another four games while waiting to make his return at home. Sutter has quietly played an important role for the resurgent Canucks this season, as he is currently fifth on the team in goals and leads all forwards in plus/minus. Somewhat surprisingly, with eight points through 19 games, Sutter was on pace for 35 points through a full 82-game season this year, which would have been the second-best scoring campaign of his career and his best in Vancouver. This injury will likely limit that upside, but Sutter has already surpassed his six total points from last year and could challenge his 26 points from the year before.
Even more so than just Sutter alone, the Canucks real challenge is dealing with both he and Jay Beagle being sidelined at the moment. Beagle missed Tuesday night’s game due to stiffness and there has been no word on his condition either. The duo are both key two way centers and the team’s top penalty killers, not to mention responsible for a majority of face-offs. Without a timeline for either veteran to return to the lineup, Vancouver will have to prepare as if they need a long-term solution for their lack of defense and experience down the middle. The rugged, physical Graovac hopes to help out while on recall, while Adam Gaudette lined up at center on Tuesday and will likely remain there. Johnston also writes that Antoine Roussel, another established two-way contributor, has begun skating with his teammates and could make his return to the lineup after a conditioning stint in the AHL. The Canucks hope it won’t take that long for Sutter or Beagle to return to the lineup, but for now that remains a mystery and the team must get ready for a busy stretch without two key veteran leaders.