The Penguins are dodging a bullet because one of hockey's great two-way players, Canucks center Ryan Kesler, is nursing a hip injury and won't be available for Thursday night's season opener.

Center Jordan Staal, entering his sixth NHL season at age 23, might be poised to see his offensive numbers spike just like Kesler's did.

Both became NHL regulars because of strong defensive play, and Canucks captain Henrik Sedin suggested Staal could follow Kesler's lead and become a dynamic offensive player.

"I see so many similarities between Jordan and Kesler," Sedin said. "It seems like Jordan has been in the league forever, but you must remember how young he is. The offense will come."