It has been talked about at length in the Vancouver market this offseason how the Canucks have some crowded ranks heading into training camp. Unless the team swings a trade before camp finishes, they may have to waive a player or two that they don’t want to lose.
Before I go any further, this article is not intended to raise the ire of readers over asset management concerns. I am merely going over which players will require waivers to get to Utica. I will discuss a few of the bubble players along the way as well.
I am linking the CapFriendly page to the Canucks roster HERE. If you scroll to the bottom and read their legend, you will see that players who are waiver-exempt are noted with a white downward pointing arrow inside of a green circle. Those are the players who do not require waivers to go to Utica.
I am not going to go through all of the requirements for waivers in this article but will provide a link to CapFriendly’s waivers FAQ page for you to reference HERE.
Goaltenders Vying For A Roster Spot
In Jacob Markstrom, Anders Nilsson, and Thatcher Demko, the team have three goaltenders who could make a legitimate push for a roster spot out of camp. Both of Markstrom and Nilsson would require waivers or a trade in order to be trimmed from the roster, as will Richard Bachman who is expected to back up Demko in Utica. Demko can be sent down without any waiver issues.
On the blueline, Alex Edler, Chris Tanev, Michael Del Zotto, Troy Stecher, Ben Hutton, Erik Gudbranson, Derrick Pouliot, Alex Biega, and possibly Olli Juolevi or Ashton Sautner could all be in consideration for roster spots.
Evan McEneny, Guillaume Brisebois, and Jalen Chatfield will also be putting their best foot forward in order to get noticed for a longer look down the road.
Brisebois, Chatfield, and Juolevi are the only defenders on NHL deals with the team who will not require waivers or a trade in order to be trimmed from the roster.
Up front is where things really start to get crowded, and where things will be most interesting in terms of training camp/preseason battles for roster spots.
Forwards Vying For A Roster Spot
- Sven Baertschi, (LW, RW. Requires waivers)
- Antoine Roussel, (LW. Requires waivers)
- Brendan Leipsic, (LW. Requires waivers)
- Tim Schaller, (LW, C. Requires waivers)
- Nikolay Goldobin, (LW, RW. Requires waivers)
- Jonathan Dahlen, (LW, C. Waivers-Exempt)
- Brendan Gaunce, (LW, C. Requires waivers)
- Darren Archibald, (LW, RW. Requires waivers)
- Tyler Motte, (LW, C. Waivers-Exempt)
- Michael Carcone, (RW, LW, C. Waivers-Exempt)
- Jonah Gadjovivch, (LW. Waivers-Exempt)
- Petrus Palmu, (LW, RW. Waivers-Exempt)
- Bo Horvat, (C. Requires waivers)
- Brandon Sutter, (C. Requires waivers)
- Jay Beagle, (C. Requires waivers)
- Sam Gagner, (C, RW, LW. Requires waivers)
- Adam Gaudette, (C. Waivers-Exempt)
- Tanner Kero, (C. Requires waivers)
- Brock Boeser, (RW. Waivers-Exempt)
- Elias Pettersson, (RW, LW, C. Waivers-Exempt)
- Loui Eriksson, (RW, LW. Requires waivers)
- Jake Virtanen, (RW. Requires waivers)
- Markus Granlund, (RW, LW, C. Requires waivers)
- Reid Boucher, (RW, LW. Requires waivers)
- Zack MacEwen, (RW, C. Waivers-Exempt)
- Kole Lind, (RW. Waivers-Exempt)
- Lukas Jasek, (RW. Waivers-Exempt)
Since the Jim Benning regime took over, the Canucks have kept eight defencemen and 13 forwards on their roster. That means that more than half of these names will have to be trimmed from the list.
Of the group listed above who will not have to clear waivers and are good bets to head to Utica unless they blow management away in training camp are Gaudette, Jasek, Lind, MacEwen, Palmu, Gadjovich, Motte, Dahlen, and Carcone. Motte will require waivers once he plays one more NHL game. Those are the easy players to trim, in theory.
Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser can both be sent to Utica without having to clear waivers…but let’s be serious. Neither will be sent to Utica in any move that isn’t a paper transaction or conditioning stint if they happen to get injured.
Up next we have the forwards who will require waivers or a trade in order to be trimmed from the roster: Horvat, Baertschi, Sutter, Roussel, Beagle, Eriksson, Leipsic, Gagner, Virtanen, Schaller, Granlund, Gaunce, Boucher, Archibald, and Kero.
So, what does all of this mean for the Canucks roster and subsequent trickle down for the Comets?
Horvat, Boeser, Pettersson, Eriksson, Baertschi, Sutter, Roussel, Beagle, and Virtanen will all probably have a job more or less locked down out of camp up front.
That will leave the likes of Goldobin, Leipsic, Gagner, Gaunce, Granlund, Archibald, Kero, Boucher, and Schaller out of the waivers required group fighting for the last four open spots.
You can probably add Adam Gaudette and Jonathan Dahlen to that list as players who don’t require waivers, but who could legitimately push for a spot with the Canucks out of camp.
That makes 11 players vying for four open spots up front. Schaller has been recovering from a hand injury and there has been some talk that he may not be ready to go out of camp. If that is the case, the team will have a little bit of breathing room until he is deemed ready to go.
With Dahlen and Gaudette not requiring waivers, they are the easiest to trim, unless one or both blow up in camp. It is probably a good bet that Archibald, Kero, and Boucher will be heading to Utica via the waiver wire after camp, so that gets us a little closer still.
Now, with five forwards left fighting for four spots, who will be the last player heading to waivers or moved out in a trade?
It would be tough to lose either of Goldobin or Leipsic to waivers, in my opinion. Both players have shown enough upside that they should be given every opportunity to prove they belong with the club.
Gagner and Granlund each provide different elements, but both are liked by the coaching staff and have had some measure of NHL success.
That would leave Brendan Gaunce as the player who will be on the outside looking in and finding himself on waivers once the smoke clears after camp.
Once Schaller is deemed healthy, the Canucks will be forced to waive or trade another player from the group who made the team out of camp.
The other thing that we need to remember is that Jim Benning has stated on the record, and vehemently I might add, that he will make room for any young player who earns a roster spot. If that is indeed the case, one would hope that if Dahlen and or Gaudette make the squad out of camp that it comes at the expense of players like Granlund or Gagner rather than Goldobin or Leipsic.
In my mind, Goldobin, Leipsic, Dahlen, Gaudette, Gaunce, Granlund, and Gagner are on the bubble up front this season. I think that Tim Schaller was signed for a reason and I expect that he will be playing most nights once he is healthy.
On the backend, I see Biega, Juolevi, and Sautner as the bubble guys. In goal, I believe that the starter’s job is Markstrom’s to lose and that Richard Bachman will be the veteran netminder in Utica again. That puts Anders Nilsson and Thatcher Demko on the bubble between the pipes.
It will be interesting to watch this all shake out, but one thing is for sure…everyone better bring it if they want to earn a job out of camp. Some players may earn a job, but have to wait for a trade/injury to shake out before they get their chance.
As I have mentioned in this space in the past, the Utica Comets will have their own crowded ranks to deal with as well, but depth is a good problem to have…and not one that Canucks/Comets fans have been used to.