Veteran center Ryan Kesler, who underwent surgery on his right hip in June, might not return to the Ducks' lineup before Christmas, general manager Bob Murray said Friday as the team opened training camp at Anaheim Ice.
Kesler had surgery to clean out bone fragments that had plagued him most of last season and hampered him as the Ducks lost to Nashville in the Western Conference final. His absence was initially projected to be no more than three months. Coupled with the anticipated absence until Nov. 1 of defensemen Sami Vatanen and Hampus Lindholm, who each underwent shoulder surgery on May 30, the Ducks will have to get by without several key players in a tough division and tough conference.
"As of right now there is no timeline whatsoever for Ryan Kesler," Murray said. "Basically he had to play the second half of last year with no … he couldn't skate. He couldn't push off his right leg whatsoever so he's got to rebuild his total glute, quad, everything, and that's what they're in the process of doing right now. So I'm hopeful to have him back before Christmas, but that's all I'm going to say for right now.
"We'll see. You know how Kes is. He's pushing it pretty good but we're also pushing back and just taking our time."
Murray said he's projecting Nov. 1 as the return date for Vatanen and Lindholm, who each needed labrum surgery. Both skated on Friday but Murray said the Ducks will be cautious with the two young pillars of the team's defense.
"They're looking fine, they're shooting the puck fine, but that's our future. We'll be pretty careful with this," Murray said. "I don't know who's going to play first. That doesn't matter. It will be 22 weeks as of Nov. 1 and they'll play sometime around that point in time."
He also said defenseman Jacob Larsson is still projected to participate in exhibition play and compete for a roster spot despite developing swelling in his surgically repaired knee.
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Murray said goaltender John Gibson, who has had several groin and hip injuries in his young career, "worked a little bit harder on his hips and his stomach" in the offseason. Murray said Gibson worked in Vancouver, Canada, with some experts on conditioning for goalies. Gibson's frequent injuries were a factor in the Ducks' signing Ryan Miller as a free agent.
"That's got to be eliminated from his game. He knows that," Murray said of Gibson's tendency toward groin and hip problems. That's why he pushed this. He pushed going there. He knows that can't continue if he wants to be a No. 1 goaltender. He knows."