When the Vancouver Canucks signed Mikael Samuelsson in the summer of 2009, they knew the purchase came with significant risk. While he showed offensive flare during his years in Detroit, Samuelsson also demonstrated a lack of durability, missing a combined 39 games between 2005 and 2009.
Nothing changed when Samuelsson came over to the west coast. He scored a career-high 30 goals last year, yet he’s also missed 14 games over two seasons in Vancouver. Solid production mixed in with a sprinkle of training table time, and that’s Samuelsson Vancouver has come to know and love.
The problem is that the latter side is a little more unpredictable, and Saturday night the brittle Samuelsson crumbled once again.
Samuelsson became tangled up with Predators forward Nick Spaling during the first period of Nashville’s 4-3 win in Game 5, and he went down awkwardly.
Inevitably, the Canucks slapped the good ol’ lower-body injury tag on their 34-year-old forward who had 18 goals and 50 points over 75 games this season. That wasn’t notable or surprising given the fortress built around training rooms every spring. But how quickly Vancouver ruled Samuelsson out for Game 6 is notable because the prompt decision shows the severity of the injury. Head coach Alain Vigneault said Samuelsson will not make the trip to Nashville.
Despite missing his usual handful of games (seven this year), Samuelsson was still fourth in scoring on the Canucks this season. Maybe he just needs to stay well away from Sami Salo’s locker and he’ll be blessed with some injury luck and a quick recovery. In that unlikely scenario (sorry, he looked like Pascal LeClaire on a November night when he was being carried off) the Canucks should be fine in the short-term, especially with Ryan Kesler sizzling after scoring five goals and nine points over his last five games.
However, a long-term absence for Samuelsson will bring Vancouver’s scoring depth into question going forward in the playoffs, assuming they don’t continue to make Nashville look like Chicago circa two weeks ago. The Sedins we’ve seen in playoffs still aren’t quite playing like the Sedins that dominated throughout the regular season, and the Canucks are still only a few games removed from seeing the offensive well run bone dry.