Photo Credit: Sergei Belski – USA TODAY Sports
On Saturday night, the Canucks were forced to dress 13 forwards and five defencemen as Christopher Tanev and Ben Hutton’s injuries suffered in the game prior kept them from the lineup. This resulted in Anton Rodin dressing for Saturday’s game, and not playing a single minute for the Canucks.
The market’s covered the Rodin angle of this extensively, and earlier this morning coach Willie Desjardins revealed Rodin wasn’t 100% healthy, which gives insight into why he didn’t play.
It’s not like this was an unavoidable issue, though. The Canucks had options to avoid this.
The information that forms the backbone of this post is publicly available. It’s my hope that by bringing this readily digestible data to the forefront, we’re all better informed for the next time a similar situation strikes.
Tanev was hurt during the game on Friday night, left the contest and did not return. Canucks Head Coach Willie Desjardins indicated Tanev needed re-evaluation:
INJURY UPDATE: Tanev will not return tonight because of an upper body injury.
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) January 7, 2017
The Canucks left Tanev in Vancouver when they departed for Calgary to play the second of a back-to-back series. It’s a reasonable conclusion that the Canucks did not expect Tanev to play on Saturday night. Otherwise, he would’ve boarded the flight and be re-evaluated in Calgary. They were hopeful that he would be good to go, but ultimately, he was unable to make the trip to Calgary.
The second ailment that hit the Canuck blue line was Hutton. That ailment kept Hutton from the Canucks lineup, somewhat unexpectedly, on Saturday.
INJURY UPDATE – Hutton will not play tonight due to an upper body injury. Rodin is in.
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) January 8, 2017
Hutton did participate in some pre-game skate, stretching and soccer in the hallway before the game. So there was the expectation he would play. As you can tell by the timestamp in the above tweet, it was a late scratch.
Since the Canucks only travelled, and then got ready for the game – it’s reasonable to suggest the Canucks had some inclination that something was up with Hutton. There just wasn’t anywhere in between where he could’ve suffered such an injury.
So given that – it’s fair to believe that the Canucks were aware of both injuries, and were hopeful that one or both would be able to play. That hope led to the plan of Hutton playing, and it wouldn’t have mattered. Unfortunately, Hutton was unable to play, and the Canucks were in a bit of a pickle.
According to Capfriendly.com – the Canucks currently have $973,870 in cap space. So any of the transactions below, would not have been prevented due to the cap ceiling.
So with the injury information cleared up and based on a reasonable conclusion that the Canucks were aware that two of their defenceman were banged up and may be unable to suit up. If one weren’t able to go, then Alex Biega would just suit up.
The simplest and easy fix to this possible issue would’ve been to assign a forward to Utica and recall a defenceman. The only possible option would’ve been to assign Brendan Gaunce to the AHL, as he is the only forward that would not require waivers to be assigned and thus wouldn’t require a 24 hour period of ‘being on waivers’ before being sent down.
The hesitation to do so was valid, if they felt Hutton or Tanev could play, then they would’ve wanted to dress Gaunce, he might not have been available. But it would’ve just been a paper transaction, as Gaunce would’ve never had actually to leave.
If Hutton was able to play, that means that Gaunce was effectively in the minors, and thus unable to suit up. It would’ve meant that Reid Boucher would’ve had to draw into the fourth line as Rodin wasn’t 100%.
This would’ve allowed the Canucks to recall Andrey Pedan from Utica, as an insurance policy. As Jason Botchford outlined in the Provies on Saturday night, Pedan would’ve easily made it to Calgary in time for the game:
This would’ve caused a roster issue for the Comets – as they also currently only have six healthy defencemen. But they likely could’ve found a defenceman to sign to a PTO in time for their Saturday game.
That is option one for the Canucks.
Another option would’ve been concluding that Tanev was unfit to play the following day (Saturday), placing him on IR, and then recalling Pedan. This option wasn’t likely available, since they were hopeful that he would be able to play in Calgary on Saturday night. It would’ve meant that Tanev stays on the IR until Sunday, and Pedan comes up, thus eliminating the option to play Tanev IF he was able to suit up. This decision would’ve had to be made Friday night, have Pedan make his trek, and then complete the paper transaction on Saturday.
There have been some suggestions that the Canucks use the ‘Emergency Recall’ in this circumstance. The article (50.10e) within the CBA is below:
The Canucks would’ve had to determine that Hutton and Tanev were unfit to play on Friday night, and then exercised the emergency recall to call up a defenceman to exceed the 23 man roster temporarily. As they had six healthy defencemen with Biega, and more than 18 skaters with Rodin and Boucher.
They would’ve then needed to complete a roster transaction on Sunday to get back under. Whether being placing Hutton or Rodin on IR or re-assigning Pedan, they could’ve accomplished this.
The Canucks were between a rock and a hard place on Saturday. Based on the information we have outlined above, the Canucks were aware that Hutton and Tanev were injured but were hopeful they would play. Thus limiting their options to assign Gaunce to the AHL, and then recalling a defenceman in his stead.
You can understand why they wouldn’t want to do that, as less than 24 hours ago, they had seven fully healthy defencemen. But given that it was the second game of a back to back against a team that you are battling with for a playoff spot, the ideal situation would’ve been to have a guaranteed six healthy defenceman for the night, and just slot Boucher into the fourth line with Jack Skille and Michael Chaput.
Andrey Pedan is expected to join the #Canucks in Nashville. They intend on dressing 6 d-men tomorrow.
— Matthew Sekeres (@mattsekeres) January 9, 2017