Vancouver Canucks forward Ryan Kesler undergoes hip surgery in Colorado

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"The operation went very well," Vigneault told reporters. "The (recovery) time frame is 12 to 16 weeks. With him being young and a healthy young man, we are shooting for 12."

Even at 12 weeks, Kesler will miss the rest of the NHL regular season but there's a chance he could return in time for the playoffs.

Kesler's surgery was performed by Dr. Marc Philippon in Vail, Colo., to repair a torn labrum. Had the 22-year-old native of Livonia, Mich., continued to play, he risked damaging the cartilage that lines the socket of the hip, which could have shortened his career.

In 48 games this season Kesler had six goals and 10 assists.

A lot of expectations were heaped on Kesler when he signed a US$1.9-million contract with the Canucks prior to training camp.

Over the summer the Canucks thought they were close to signing the restricted free agent to a two-year deal, but they were caught off guard when former Philadelphia Flyer general manger Bob Clarke put forth a $1.9-million offer sheet.

Vancouver GM Dave Nonis had to either match the offer or lose Kesler and receive a second-round draft pick.