When new Vancouver Canucks defenseman Brady Keeper went down in obvious pain following a blocked shot in practice in on Saturday and had to be stretched off the ice, the result was never going to be good. However, the hope was that Keeper’s injury would not cost him his entire debut season with the Canucks after signing a two-year, one-way contract this summer. While the team has not provided a definitive diagnosis or recovery timeline, it unfortunately seems likely that Keeper will miss extensive time, if not the whole season. Head coach Travis Green updated the media today and disclosed that Keeper did in fact suffer a fractured leg on the blocked shot. The Athletic’s Rick Dhaliwal adds that Keeper underwent surgery this morning.
Some sources are reporting that Keeper suffered both a fractured tibia and fibula, while others have merely stuck with “broken leg” until an official confirmation from the Canucks. Either way, there is a chance that Keeper may not be able to return this season, especially since the fracture required surgery. Timelines vary for recoveries from a broken leg, but the most recent cases in the NHL all cost players a minimum of three months. This would actually be a positive result for Keeper, getting him back in action after the calendar flips to January. Even if he is out close to four or five month, the extended regular season due to the Olympic break should still allow Keeper to return. However, if the defenseman is looking at a six-month recovery, considered to be the maximum for a leg fracture, the Canucks may simply shut him down rather than try to bring him back in April with so little time left in the year.
While Keeper may not be a household name and may only seem like a minor off-season addition, the 25-year-old defenseman out of the University of Maine was clearly in the Canucks’ plans this season. A Group 6 free agent from the Florida Panthers, Keeper only has two regular season NHL games to his credit, but has impressed in the AHL with his well-rounded play. His market was such this summer that Vancouver gave him a one-way contract and at a $762.5K AAV that is above the minimum salary. Keeper was expected to at least compete for an opening night roster spot with the Canucks.
Fortunately, Keeper was one of a number additions to the blue line this off-season for Vancouver. In addition to returners Tyler Myers, Travis Hamonic, Olli Juolevi, and (unsigned) Quinn Hughes, the Canucks added Oliver Ekman-Larsson as well as Keeper, Tucker Poolman, and Brad Hunt. Prospects Jack Rathbone and Jett Woo and veterans Madison Bowey and Guillaume Brisebois will also be in the mix. The Canucks have the depth to replace Keeper, but will still be disappointed to be without him for a length of time this season.