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Waiver Eligibility and Your 2018-19 Vancouver Canucks

At this stage, you should be all too familiar with the waiver wire and how it operates. We’ve looked at the rules, and how they’ve threatened the Canucks’ roster in years past.

It’s cost the Canucks players in recent years, like Adam Cracknell and Frank Corrado, and it’s responsible for bringing players like Reid Boucher in tow, too.

Mostly, it’s where players go when they’re on the losing end of a numbers game. An NHL roster can only carry 23 players at any given moment, and if you have players that aren’t waiver exempt, the rest of the league has a crack at adding them to their roster. It’s a means to keep teams from stockpiling NHL calibre talent in their farm teams.

The rules for waiver eligibility are as follows:

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  • Based on your age and whether you’re a skater or a goalie, you’re allotted a certain amount of years of waiver exemption.
  • If you signed as a teen, non-NHL leagues are treated as a slide, much like they are for your ELC.
  • Players can also hit a certain Games Played threshold sooner than their allotted exemption years to become susceptible to the process.
  • If a player is waived, clears, and comes back up, he has 30 days or 10 games of NHL time (whichever comes first) where he is temporarily exempt.
  • Players can be sent on waiver-less “conditioning stints” for 14 days if for a reason deemed acceptable by the league.

If you’re still curious, you can follow this link to the CapFriendly Waivers FAQ page for further details.

Of the Canucks’ 46 salaried player contracts, 17 of them are waivers exempt. With that, let’s get to it.


Waiver Eligible Locks: Loui Eriksson, Brandon Sutter, Bo Horvat, Sven Baertschi, Antoine Roussel, Jay Beagle, Tim Schaller, Jake Virtanen

Waiver Exempt Locks: Elias Pettersson (2021-22 or 160 games), Brock Boeser (2020-21 or 89 games)

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Waiver Eligible Bubble Players: Nikolay Goldobin, Sam Gagner, Markus Granlund, Brendan Leipsic, Darren Archibald

Waiver Exempt Bubble Players: Adam Gaudette (2020-21 or 75 games), Jonathan Dahlen (2020-21 or 160 games), Tyler Motte (2019-20 or 1 game)

Waiver Eligible Long Shots: Reid Boucher, Tanner Kero, Brendan Gaunce

Waiver Exempt Long Shots: Kole Lind, Jonah Gadjovich, Lukas Jasek, Zack MacEwen, Yan-Pavel Laplante, Petrus Palmu, Michael Carcone

When pressed about the overflowing roster Canucks general manager Jim Benning had assembled in the wake of his July 1st spending spree, he made it clear that there was going to be a lot of internal competition at training camp. That competition is going to be especially fierce at forwarding, where at least 21 players are vying for a maximum of 13 spots.

If waiver eligible players lose their job, it’s up to Benning to find a trade partner — think the inverse of the Derrick Pouliot trade last fall — or risk losing them to waivers.

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Most believe that it’s going to be Goldobin and Leipsic who are battling it out to save their spot on the roster. It’s a top-six spot that the two are going to be fighting over — who wins that duel is anyone’s guess. I tend to think Goldobin is better suited to play that high in the lineup, but Leipsic’s familiarity with head coach Travis Green and his ability to play further down the roster give him the inside track.

The list of players that produced less than Granlund did last season relative to their ice-time at 5-on-5 is a short one. There’s Nic Dowd, and that’s about it. I know that Green was in Granlund’s corner right until the bitter end, but his contract is easy enough to bury, and if he’s not producing, and he’s not on the shutdown line, then what’s Granlund bringing to the table? I could say the same for Gagner. Neither would be a significant loss on waivers, and it might be the only way to avoid sending Goldobin or Leipsic through them.


Waiver Eligible Locks: Alexander Edler, Chris Tanev, Erik Gudbranson, Troy Stecher, Michael Del Zotto

Waiver Exempt Locks: N/A

Waiver Eligible Bubble Players: Ben Hutton, Derrick Pouliot, Alex Biega, Ashton Sautner, Evan McEneny

Waiver Exempt Bubble Players: Olli Juolevi (2021-22 or 160 games)

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Waiver Exempt Long Shots: Guillaume Brisebois (2020-21 or 160 games), Jalen Chatfield (2020-21 or 80 games)

I suspect that the Canucks are going to open the 2018-19 season with the same group of defencemen that they used last year. Strange as it may sound, it’s hard to imagine any other scenario. The only wild card for the group was the recent seventh-overall draft pick, Quinn Hughes, but he’s opted to return to the University of Michigan.

The only real competition I see playing out at camp is for the job of seventh and eighth defenceman. Usually, I’d just go with eight, but the waiver situation could force the Canucks to run with one extra forward and one extra defenceman on their 23-man roster.

The main combatants for that job are probably Alex Biega, Ashton Sautner, Ben Hutton and Evan McEneny. Biega is a favourite of the Canucks, all throughout the organization, so he’s got a bit of a head start in this race. Green’s usage of Sautner late in the season suggested he wants to see what he can do at the NHL level, and his usage of McEneny in the AHL in years past suggests he’s a believer.


Waiver Eligible Lock: Jacob Markstrom

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Waiver Eligible Bubble Player: Anders Nilsson

Waiver Exempt Bubble Player: Thatcher Demko (2020-21 or 59 games played)

Waiver Eligible Long Shots: Richard Bachman

Waiver Exempt Long Shot: Michael DiPietro

Even though Nilsson has another year and $2.5-million remaining on his contract, I think the Canucks are serious about there being competition between him and Demko for the backup job. I’m sure that the Canucks would’ve dealt Nilsson by now if they could have found a trade partner, then opted for another, cheaper veteran for Demko to compete with, but that just hasn’t worked out.

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Now it’s all about making the best of a less than ideal situation. Given the financial health of the Canucks’, they can send Nilsson to the minors and not sweat it. That same $2.5-million cap hit that makes Nilsson impossible to trade also likely makes him a difficult addition off the waiver wire, so I’d bet he clears.

That said, I’d bet that the Canucks give Nilsson a chance to establish himself in the NHL again as, at least, a competent backup and see if they can make something happen at the trade deadline. Then Demko can get a few NHL games in anyway.

  • TheRealPB

    Agree with the other posters, according to CapFriendly, Brisebois and Chatfield aren’t waiver eligible.

    Don’t we think Nilsson deserves at least a bit more of an opportunity given how well he played in the WHC? Also, if Schaller is on the DL when the season starts (or on a conditioning stint) I can’t see the Canucks being more loyal to him over one of the young guys (Roussell and Beagle sure, but I don’t think of Schaller as more than AHL insurance and I don’t think they do either)

  • Bert Diesel

    It will help if someone gets put on injured reserved early in the season; could prevent someone being lost on waivers. Here’s how I hope it shakes down for the 23 man roster:
    1. Demko
    2. Nilsson
    3. Boeser
    4. Horvat
    5. Baertschi
    6. Eriksson
    7. Sutter
    8. Virtanen
    9. Roussel
    10. Beagle
    11. Schaller
    12. Leipsic
    13. Petterson
    14. Edler
    15. Tanev
    16. Gudbranson
    17. Stecher
    18. Del Zotto
    19. Pouliot
    20. Hutton
    21. Goldobin
    22. Granlund
    23. Biega

    gaunce= waived (who would take him with so little offensive production)
    Gagner=Waived (I hope they do this, nobody would claim his contract anyways and he is the least effective forward on the team)
    Boucher= Waived
    Archibald= Waived
    Gaudette= Utica
    Dahlen= Utica
    Motte= Utica
    Lind/Palmu/Gadjovich/Chatfield/Brisebois= Utica
    Dipietro= Juniors

    To summarize: waiving Gagner will prevent them from losing one of Granlund, Goldobin or Leipsic. Out of that list I would definitely keep Leipsic and prefer to see what the potential Goldobin has.

    • canuckfan

      If Canucks lose players that have been put on waivers who really cares. I would like to know what players have just one year left on their agreement. I think the 19/20 season will see a big turnover a lot of players with 1 year left won’t be resigned MDZ and Granlund and Goldobin who I believe all have just a year left. All would have served their purpose from depth to show me what you can do. If Goldie can’t keep up the pace on a game by game basis he is back to KHL. Granlund will still get a spot on another team because he can play multiple positions and kill penalties.

  • wojohowitz

    “Green was in Granlund’s corner ”

    That`s not the way I remember it. The year before Granlund scored 19 goals playing with the twins and 25 was a reasonable expectation but instead he was used at all three forward positions and with different line combinations. Green was clearly not a Granlund fan and the sooner Granlund gets out of town the better off his career will be.

  • speering major

    With Schaller starting the season on the IR, doesn’t that delay the decision on Leipsic, Goldobin, and Granlund? I could see the a likely scenario where the IR being filled throughout the season prevents them from having to make a decision until they have had an extended look or even made moves approaching the trade deadline. There definitely wouldn’t have been a problem last season.

    I really think they need to give Goldobin a chance. It’s not so much that he impressed me, it’s that he has shown enough skill and improvement in bursts to where it looks like he belongs out there when playing with quality linemates. He also has a track record of producing everywhere outside the NHL and is still not close to his prime.

    • Chris the Curmudgeon

      Indeed. Gaunce is not a “long shot”. He’s a bubble player for sure, but he’s more likely to make the team than Archibald and probably on par with Granlund and Gagner as a guy who could force his way on or suck his way to Utica.

      • Ser Jaime Lannister

        Gaunce should deff be a”long shot” along with Archibald. Canucks will be moving on from the dead weight this season and next. Gaunce/Gagner/Granlund need to go, If liepsic and Goldobin cant provide two way games time too move on from them as well.

        Players like Gadjovich/Lind/Lockwood/Palmu/Jasek/Gaudette could carve out third / fourth line duties (not all will make it obviously) but i am more than willing to give one of these guys a shot this year and next. We know what we have in Gagner/Gaunce/Granlund/Archibald/Motte/Boucher. NEXT!

  • Bert Diesel

    It’s not so much I think Gaunce can’t grow into an effective player at some point. His underlying stats are good but in terms of pure asset management, he is unlikely to be claimed on waivers. I really think that next season will be the season of two Canucks teams; Utica perhaps being equally important to the future of the team. Gaunce can be a 1st liner in Utica and if needed can come up.
    I think the likelihood of a waiver claim goes something like this:
    Leipsic 80% he will be taken (also 9 points in 14 games as a Canuck)
    Goldobin 70% (too much offensive potential, someone is likely to give him a shot)
    Granlund 50% (pretty solid season in 2016; reasonable contract)
    Hutton 45% (teams might like his upside; contract might scare them away)
    Biega 40% (some team might like him as a depth guy)
    Gaunce 25% (not very physical and can’t score)
    Boucher 20% (Not proven in the NHL)
    Gagner 15% (Isn’t really effective and has negative value= if he got claimed it would be a positive for Vancouver)
    Archibald 10% (Not really an NHL player)

    • Chris the Curmudgeon

      I think Gaunce is perhaps a little more likely than that, and that Goldobin is probably close to 90%, but otherwise I can’t really disagree with your estimates.

    • tyhee

      It seems just the use of the word “Corrado” sets off those who don’t want to see the name even when there is no hint of criticism of the Canucks connected to the use of it.

      The article didn’t contain a criticism of the Canucks for putting Corrado on waivers. It didn’t criticize them for asset management. The reference to Corrado, Cracknell and Boucher was just to try to make the article about waiver eligibility appear more relevant by mentioning that the Canucks have both lost and gained players on waivers.

  • Kneedroptalbot

    Anders Nilsson was outstanding, winning the Gold Medal for Sweden at the world championships. Jacob Markstrom was the most consistent last year in the regular season. Thatcher Demko is a top ranked prospect that should be very close to NHL ready. I really like the Goaltending position for the Nucks this year.
    I wouldn’t be surprized if Anders Nilsson carries over his strong play after winning the Gold medal.

  • Rodeobill

    I really think JB needs to balance his asset management with his “play those who earn a spot.” First and foremost is the notion that this is a rebuild. No player that could be a part of that future team should be sacrificed for wins now. That means Goldobin and Leipsic need to stay until we are fairly confident they are not going to develop accordingly. Letting these guys walk on waivers would undo a couple of the mostly unanimously agreed good moves JB has made these last few seasons. I like Gaunce, but we know his ceiling is not much more than he has played until now. I hope he clears and stays in the system. Gagner is serviceable in situations, but not ones that happen often on the Canucks. He isn’t “gritty” either, so trade/waive/whatever. Worst case is he is in Utica and JB gets the media lashing for letting that much cap waste in the AHL. Granlund is a swiss army knife and my no means old. He has also done whatever he is asked and proven himself to be an offensive contributor when put in the right position. Having said that, IF a prospect outplays him, i would begrudgingly seem him waived as I see him as not really a top 6 guy in our future team.
    I also would rather our bottom 6 FAs be considered to waive, which is a moot point of course because it is very unlikely, but it’s not like they wouldn’t clear waivers with those contracts (well, maybe Shaller wouldn’t), but would serve both asset management and allowing ready prospects roster space to blossom.

    • Cageyvet

      I agree with everything you said, although I’d go to greater lengths to avoid waiving Granlund. I am not convinced he can manage top 6, but like Leipsic, you need some 3rd liners who are able to acquit themselves well enough when asked to move up due to injuries. Not quite top 6 in today’s NHL has to be the description of the scoring ability of your 3rd line, regardless of their other abilities (faceoffs, forechecking, PK, etc.).

  • speering major

    Gaunce needs to go down and figure out how to score once in a while. He produces at a lower rate than enforcers. The kid tries hard and all that but this is pro hockey, you contribute or you go. His production is abysmal and he looks hopeless in his scoring chances. If he can get some confidence in the minors and bring a two way game back up, good for him. If he can’t even score in the minors, the NHL is just not for him.

  • Hockey Bunker

    Good discussion because it will explain roster moves going forward. If an exempt player is sent to the minors after out playing an older player watch for that older player to hit the trade market. This is the year we will see dramatic roster turn over with a younger better team at the end of the year than the team in October. Change always appears to be too slow when watching everyday but when you step back and look from year to year we’ll probably say WOW.

  • MrTrip Darren

    Leipsic deserves a good look but may be a flash in the pan. Goldobin and Jasek may also make the team, which would mean that the best solution would be to trade Gagner and Baertschi for picks. Del Zotto is not part of the future so trading him for picks would be great also. That would open up some space.