The Vancouver Canucks have another hole to fill on their second line.
David Booth, who has yet to take part in training camp, will be lost for a month to six weeks with a groin strain.
Canucks coach Alain Vigneault revealed the extent of the injury a day after Booth underwent an MRI. Booth’s absence leaves two holes on Vancouver’s second line. Centre Ryan Kesler is recuperating from off-season shoulder and wrist surgery and remains out indefinitely.
Vigneault said the Canucks still have plenty of good players available and will cope well, as they have done in the past with other injuries.
“My job is to play with the players that are available,” said Vigneault.
Mason Raymond, who missed much of last season while recuperating from a serious back injury, is the only holdover from the second line able to participate in camp. Barring a change, he will take on the role of mentor while trying to get his offensive game on track.
“We’re going to help each other,” said Raymond. “Obviously, a line works best when you have all three guys going.”
Journeyman forward Andrew Ebbett and Jordan Schroeder, the club’s top draft pick (22nd overall) in 2009, are auditioning to fill Kesler’s centre spot, while second-year pro Zack Kassian has been playing the other wing alongside Raymond.
“These guys are all coming to play,” said Raymond. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s (Schroeder), Ebbett or Zack (Kassian) on the wing. These guys can all bring something to the line. If we work together, we can be successful.”
Vigneault has expressed a desire to keep his third and fourth lines intact. One option, if the coach chooses, could be to move either Ebbett or Schroeder to the wing from the middle.
Ebbett, a 28-year-old Calgary native who was limited to 18 games last season because of collarbone and foot injuries, has seen considerable action at wing in the past while playing a utility role with the Canucks and four other NHL clubs. Schroeder, 22, has seen limited duty as a winger, but hasn’t played a regular-season game in the NHL since being drafted with high hopes.
Ebbett, who has been used primarily in an offensive role while playing for Vancouver’s top farm club, the Chicago Wolves during the lockout, said a day earlier he is willing to fill whatever hole he can. Schroeder is also willing to make a move, if necessary.
“I’ll play wherever they want me to play,” said Schroeder, a Prior Lake, Minn., native. “Just to play on this team would be an honour. You come up here and there are so many good players. It’s been fun so far up here.”
Schroeder said he is a much better player than when he turned pro in 2010-11.
“I think I would definitely be able to play the wing,” he said.
Booth, a 28-year-old Detroit native, recorded 16 goals and 13 assists in 56 games with Vancouver in 2011-12 after coming over in an early-season trade from Florida.
He also had one assist with the Panthers.
It’s unclear when the seven-year veteran suffered the injury. Booth worked out with teammates informally at UBC late last week before the lockout ended, participating in drills and scrimmages, but has been sideline since then.
Questions have been raised about how often Booth skated during the lockout while pursuing his interest in hunting, for which he has come under criticism on social media.
But Vigneault said Booth told him he skated four or five times per week.
The Canucks open their season at home Saturday against the Anaheim Ducks.