Tommernes Terminated; More Moves Coming?

The Vancouver Canucks have placed now former prospect Henrik Tommernes on unconditional waivers in order to terminate his contract and allow him to return to Europe so he can continue to pursue his hockey career overseas. The move itself isn’t all that significant, but it may have some interesting implications on what roster moves that Jim Benning can make going forward.

Read past the jump to see how this move could influence the Canucks in the short term.

First of all, a prospect being outright released from the organization may feel like poor asset management on the surface, especially if it’s a guy that we had ranked 15th in our top-20 prospects just this past summer ahead of World Junior revelation Gustav Forsling, and inside the top-10 just two short years ago, but Vancouver really isn’t losing anything of any consequence in Tommernes. I was the only writer on Canucks Army to not have Tommernes ranked inside my top-20 over the summer, as I briefly explained in the comments here:

We know that a players’ peak is around 24-25 years old. If they’re not literally kicking the door to the NHL down by around 22, they’re not full-time NHL calibre. Kenins (this goes for Tommernes too) is 23. He’s not a prospect.

I thought that clock had struck midnight on Tommernes by the time he was re-drafted in the 7th round of 2011, and the fact that he hadn’t yet got so much as a sniff at the NHL level pretty much confirms that. Utica may miss him, as we estimate that he was a top-4 D on the Utica Comets, but the acquisition of Andrey Pedan softens that blow somewhat too.

The most intriguing part about shedding Tommernes’ deal is that it allows Vancouver to pick up another contract, either via trade, through free agency, or on waivers. At last count, the Canucks had 48 contracts counting towards their 50 contract limit, with Jake Virtanen, Jared McCann, Cole Cassels, Anton Cederholm, and Evan McEneny all seeing their ELC deals slide thanks to being assigned to the CHL. With Tommernes bought out, they’re down to 47.

Speaking with people in the industry, the biggest reason why waiver claims aren’t made more frequently is because teams like the flexibility that comes with keeping one or two contract spots free. This allows them to be aggressive in free agency if there’s a NCAA guy they feel fit to go after mid-season, or aggressive in trades should they want to move a pick or a prospect for a roster player. Tommernes’ departure likely means that Jim Benning could be more willing to jump on the opportunity to pick up a useful player like David Schlemko, Magnus Paajarvi, or Kyle Chipchura should their teams waive them once again.

Alternately, this may also signal that Jordan Subban will finally be inked to his ELC deal. The 19-year old Subban is T-1st in the OHL in goals by a defenseman while playing on a brutal Belleville Bulls team. The Bulls just traded their best forward, 19-year old Stars prospect Remi Elie, to the Erie Otters, and it seems plausible that Subban could get dealt to a better team looking to make a playoff run too. If Benning does not sign Subban to an ELC before the 2015 entry draft, Subban will no longer be property of the Canucks. Instead, he will re-enter the draft as he won’t yet be 21 years old. If Vancouver has any hopes of keeping Subban, he needs a contract soon.

Regardless, Tommernes’ departure to Europe creates the potential for Jim Benning to make some further moves to add more assets to the organization. It remains to be seen what he’ll do with this additional flexibility, however.

  • elvis15

    One note on Subban, signing him to a contract wouldn’t have affected us this year as it would be signed with intent to start next year. He’d leave the Bulls (assuming he isn’t traded and goes deep in the playoffs) and be put on an ATO/PTO with the Comets for any play with them this year.

    But I’d guess Tommernes initiated this early, even if it was something the Canucks might have explored (or just not re-signed him) if they didn’t think he was a fit going forward. I’d love to see Hutton go pro, for instance, but maybe a trade or UFA signing is in the future as well.