How the Canucks recalled Reid Boucher with 23 players on roster

I’m always fascinated by the how and why of transactions in the NHL. Most of the time, they are mean nothing transactions that happen for the reason you think. Sometimes, there is more, and I believe that to be the case with today’s move.

Ben Birnell of the Utica Observer Dispatch noticed that forward Reid Boucher was on the Canucks roster this morning:

The Canucks announced the recall not long afterwards:

Which isn’t that crazy, as the Canucks likely want another forward with the group as they are about to embark on a road trip. Alternatively, it’s possible a player that is currently on the team has a minor ailment. But there is one issue, the Canucks already have 23 players on the roster, according to CapFriendly:

The Canucks have had to have goaltender Thatcher Demko around because Anders Nilsson and his wife are expecting the birth of their child. Carrying three goalies can complicate issues (from a roster standpoint), and this is an example of that. But there is a clause in the NHL/NHLPA CBA that allows the organization to exceed the 23 man roster limit due to reasons that are not injury related:

Based on the wording, the Canucks would’ve submitted a request to the NHL asking for a roster exception while Nilsson and his wife are together. Given the uncertainty of timelines that happen with childbirth, the organization would need to have Demko around to ensure that they can dress two goalies for the game against the Calgary Flames this evening. This move would deem Nilsson to be a non-roster player, which based on the roster on the Canucks website confirms my thought process here:

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I am not privy to if any players are banged up and might not be able to dress, but it’s fair to believe that one or two of the current Canucks forwards are battling day-to-day injuries and might be game-time decisions. So the Canucks have recalled Boucher to ensure they have a healthy forward in case someone can’t go.

Given the personal situation of Nilsson, and the possibility of someone battling a minor injury, the Canucks are in a position where they have some uncertainty of who will be available for the game tonight.  By leveraging 16.12(a) of the CBA, they have made the necessary moves to ensure they will have 12 forwards, six defencemen and two goaltenders available for tonight.

The Canucks don’t play again until Thursday, so they will have a couple of days to make changes if needed.