The Vancouver Canucks will be a lot closer to full strength when they take the ice this afternoon. The team has announced that forwards Micheal Ferland and Jay Beagle have been activated from the injured reserve, while goaltender Jacob Markstrom has been activated from the non-roster list following a leave of absence. The returns come just days after Antoine Roussel made his season debut after overcoming injury as well.
Ferland’s return to the lineup will be the greatest change in status quo for the Canucks. A free agent addition coming off a career year, Ferland suffered a concussion just 12 games into the season and has been on the IR since November 1st. The physical winger has just five points on the year, but recorded 40 points in 71 games last year, including a career high in assists. If he remains healthy, Ferland would be on pace for 65 games this regular season and the Canucks hope that might be enough to gt him back into that 40-point range. At the very least, Ferland will provide a physical presence and an injection of energy for the Vancouver forward corps
Beagle returns to the lineup at the earliest possible time, just ten days after he was placed on IR on November 27th. Yet, the veteran has been beat up for much of the early season, missing a total of nine games thus far due to a lower-body injury. Beagle’s scoring numbers may be down to begin the year, but he will be a welcome addition nonetheless. The experienced two-way forward is a leader and difference-maker on the ice for the Canucks, particularly at the face-off dot. Despite missing considerable time, Beagle remains second on the team in face-off wins thanks to a whopping 60% success rate. He is also a key piece to the team’s penalty kill, which has struggled in his absence and slipped into the bottom half of the league.
Markstrom returns to the team after being given the week off to attend his father’s memorial service in his native Sweden. Thatcher Demko will get the start again today, with Markstrom likely to return to the crease on Tuesday. Markstrom has played well this season with a .913 save percentage and 2.70 GAA and he and Demko have combined to provide consistent goaltending for Vancouver. The question this season will continue to be whether the Canucks feel they need to re-sign Markstrom, arguably the second-best keeper on the free agent market, or instead see Demko as ready to take over the starter’s role.
Even with this trio back in action, the Canucks are not fully healthy. The team was forced to place Alexander Edler and Tyler Graovac on injured reserve earlier this week, while Brandon Sutter and Tyler Motte remain there as well. There has been little news on a return from any of the group, although the initial timeline for Motte’s injury should have him back sooner rather than later. Additionally, with three additions to the active roster, the Canucks have sent down forward Zack MacEwen, who re-joins the AHL’s Utica Comets.