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The Implications of the Holiday Roster Freeze and Michael Chaput’s Reassignment

Earlier this morning, the Canucks reassigned Michael Chaput to the Utica Comets.

It wasn’t a surprising move as it was reported by a few reporters that Chaput’s gear was in a Utica Comets bag at the end of the game. It was just a matter of the Canucks reassigning Chaput, and that announcement came later this morning.

There are a couple of wrinkles on the move that will likely go under the radar.

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The first being that the NHL roster freeze took effect as of 11:59:59 PM last night, and is outlined as follows (SB Nation summed it up):

Simply stated, it prevents any players on NHL active rosters or injured reserve from being traded, waived or loaned.

But Chaput was assigned this morning?

Well, that means that the Canucks actually submitted the paperwork to the NHL before the 5 PM ET deadline yesterday, but did not announce it until this morning. This ensures that they are compliant with the deadline for roster moves prior to the freeze and get Chaput down to Utica until the freeze is lifted at 12:01 AM on December 28th.

It’s a simple part of the transaction and is commonplace. An organization will make a move and sometimes won’t announce it until later on. Most of the time, it doesn’t matter, but here is that added wrinkle to the roster freeze.

In Chaput’s case, the dates outlined above matter as he would’ve required waivers to be sent back to the Comets if he remained on the Canucks roster for the duration of the roster freeze. By my count, Chaput has been on the Canucks roster for 23 days cumulatively, and if he had reached 30 days, then he would’ve needed waivers to go back to the AHL. That is outlined in Article 13.5 of the NHL CBA

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Given that the roster freeze ended on December 28th, if Chaput had been on the roster until then, it would add 8 days to his total – making it 31 days and pushing him over the limit. It’s a small move, but it allows the Canucks to save those remaining days for future use.

With Nikolay Goldobin and Reid Boucher currently with the team, the Canucks do have some options available to them. So instead of having Chaput sit in the press box over the holidays, they can send him down while ensuring his availability in the future without needing waivers to go back.

Obviously, it’s a whole different discussion if teams could claim Chaput on waivers, but it’s still a minor move that helps make life a little easier in the future. The Comets play the Marlies later today and then again on the 22nd.