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Tyler Myers' injury complicates the Canucks' plans on defence

With Tyler Myers out 2-4 weeks, the Canucks' already thin right side on defence will be tested.
Tyler Myers is expected to miss 2-4 weeks with a lower-body injury.

The Vancouver Canucks' defence managed to stay relatively healthy last season. While Tucker Poolman had his season ended by migraines, the rest of the defence — particularly top defencemen Quinn Hughes, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and Tyler Myers — didn't miss much time at all.

Myers played all 82 games last season, the third time in his career that he hasn't missed a single game. He won't be repeating that feat this season, however. On Friday, Canucks head coach Bruce Boudreau announced that Myers will be out two to four weeks with a lower-body injury.

That's a pretty wide-open timeline and it potentially makes things complicated for the Canucks.

In order for a player to go on LTIR so a team can get salary cap relief, a player has to miss at least 10 games and 24 days of the season. The Canucks' tenth game of the 2022-23 season will be on November 1 — 25 days or three-and-a-half weeks away. That means if Myers only misses two weeks, he can't go on LTIR and the Canucks don't get any cap relief; if he misses four weeks, however, he can go on LTIR.

That's something the Canucks' front office will need to figure out — how does this injury affect their plans for getting under the salary cap at the start of the season to maximize their LTIR relief pool.

The more pertinent question for Canucks fans is how will this affect the team on the ice?

The Canucks were already thin on the right side on defence, to the point that they were considering moving Hughes to the right side. Myers, for all his faults, is the team's best right-side defenceman and he averaged just under 22 minutes per game last season in ice time while leading the team in ice time on the penalty kill. Those are difficult minutes to replace.

Myers' injury likely means that Tucker Poolman isn't going anywhere — they'll need him to pick up the slack on the right side and he's had top-four experience in the past.

There's also the uncertainty of Travis Dermott's injury. He hasn't skated with the team since leaving practice a week ago while feeling woozy. That limits the Canucks' options and likely means that Hughes does not shift to the right side to cover for Myers.

This is how the Canucks lined up on defence at Friday's morning skate and it could be how they line up for opening night.

Quinn Hughes - Luke Schenn
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Tucker Poolman
Jack Rathbone - Kyle Burroughs

There is one other possibility: claiming a defenceman off waivers. Two interesting options on waivers on Friday are Dmitri Samorukov from the Edmonton Oilers and Johnathan Kovacevic from the Winnipeg Jets.

Samorukov is a 23-year-old prospect with great size at 6'3" and a well-rounded game. He's played big minutes in the AHL but has only gotten into one game with the Oilers, where he barely played. With both Dermott and Myers out, he might be worth a shot.

Kovacevic also has great size at 6'5" and he's a right-handed defenceman, which is a distinct need for the Canucks. The trouble is that he's already 25 and has played just four NHL games. He was great in the AHL last season with 30 points in 62 games and is seen as a late bloomer, so maybe he's worth a shot — considering the Canucks' thin right side, claiming Kovacevic couldn't hurt.