Florida Panthers defenseman Brady Keeper, a Cree defenseman from Cross Lake, Manitoba, skates against the Ottawa Senators during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, March 28, 2019 in Ottawa, Ontario. Credit: Adrian Wyld / The Canadian Press via AP

Former University of Maine third-team All-Hockey East defenseman Brady Keeper appears as though he won’t be making his debut in the Canucks organization any time soon.

Keeper had to be stretchered off the ice in considerable pain after suffering a leg injury during practice on Saturday, according to Canadian sports channel Sportsnet.

Keeper, who spent the last two seasons in the Florida Panthers organization, signed a two-year free agent contract with the Vancouver Canucks this summer.

The 25-year-old played in one game for the Panthers this past season but spent a lot of time on their taxi squad. He also appeared in 11 games for the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League and had a pair of goals and an assist.

During the summer of the 2019-20 season, when COVID-19 protocols sent 24 NHL teams to either Toronto (Eastern Conference) or Edmonton (Western Conference) for the Stanley Cup playoffs, Keeper spent two weeks with the Panthers and played in one playoff game, a 4-2 loss to the New York Islanders.

He played 13 minutes and 13 seconds and had two blocked shots, two hits, two giveaways and one takeaway.

He spent the majority of the 2019-20 season with the Springfield Thunderbirds of the AHL where he registered six goals and 12 assists for 18 points.

Keeper played two seasons at UMaine, racking up six goals and 16 assists in 37 games his freshman year in 2017-18 and seven goals and 15 assists in 2018-19, when he was named to the All-Hockey East third team.

The Cross Lake, Manitoba, native signed a two-year free agent contract with the Panthers just after the UMaine season concluded and, in late March, he made headlines when he became the first member of the Pimicikamak Cree Nation to play in an NHL game when the Panthers faced off against Ottawa.

 

His two-year contract with the Panthers paid him $925,000 per year.

His contract with Vancouver will pay him a total of $1.525 million over two years, or $762,500 per season.

Canucks head coach Travis Green told Sportnet that Keeper’s game “had gotten better as camp has gone on for three days. You never like to see anyone laying down on the ice and get carried off in that way.”