Brock Boeser might return to the Vancouver Canucks lineup this season, after all.
"We think there's a chance that he could be back before the end of the year," general manager Jim Benning said Monday.
The forward has missed five games since fracturing rib cartilage Feb. 8 in a 6-2 loss to the Calgary Flames.
After acquiring forward Tyler Toffoli in a trade with the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 17, Benning said Boeser's injury was "more severe than we originally thought," amending the initial three-week recovery time to eight weeks, which would have put his earliest return at April 4, the final day of the NHL regular season.
"It looks like he could be done for the year," Benning said Feb. 18.
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Vancouver traded forwards Tim Schaller and Tyler Madden, a second-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, and a conditional pick in the 2022 NHL Draft to Los Angeles for Toffoli.
"We wanted to make sure that ... we had ourselves covered," Benning said at the time when asked if the Toffoli trade was connected to Boeser's updated prognosis. "Our players have worked hard this year, our coaches have worked hard, for fans we want to stay in the race here coming down the stretch, and so we felt like this was something we could do now."
The Canucks (33-22-6) are in third place in the Pacific Division, four points behind the first-place Vegas Golden Knights. Vancouver plays at the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; TSN2, RDS, SNP, NHL.TV).
No. 1 goalie Jacob Markstrom is out indefinitely with a lower-body injury. He will return to Vancouver on Tuesday and meet with doctors Wednesday after he had an MRI in Montreal on Monday.
Benning said Markstrom was injured in a 9-3 home win against the Boston Bruins on Feb. 22.