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UPDATE: According to Ben Kuzma of the Vancouver Province, Ryan Kesler should be back in action for the Vancouver Canucks this Friday against the Dallas Stars.
While Kesler is expected to compete on the Canucks' second line with Chris Higgins and Zack Kassian, center Andrew Ebbett is likely to drop out of the lineup. Manny Malhotra's IR placement clears the necessary roster space.
We haven't seen Ryan Kesler on the ice this season, as he continues to rehab from shoulder and wrist surgeries, but his teammates did finally see their center working on skates over the weekend. According to Joseph Sapienza of the Canadian Press, Kesler joined the Vancouver Canucks for practice on Sunday.
“I don’t think there’s been any official timeline put as far as Ryan goes,” coach Alain Vigneault said. “I’ve watched him for the last month. He looks real good and he’s probably in better shape than most of the guys when they arrived here because he had been working with our conditioning guys throughout the lockout and he’s been pushing himself real hard.
“When he’s ready to play he’s going to help us obviously. But it’s good to see him back with the group. He’s in great shape right now and hopefully we’ll have him in our lineup real soon.”
While there remains no specific timeline for Kesler's return, he clearly is getting closer -- close enough that he should be worth stashing on fantasy rosters. Kesler, who is owned in just 59.3 percent of ESPN fantasy hockey leagues, contributes helpful stats across the board when he is healthy.