Photo Credit: Owen Skye: @OwenSkyeVisuals

Waivers, Bubble Guys, And the 2018/19 Canucks/Comets

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.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

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.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

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.

Image result for nikolay goldobin

Forwards Vying For A Roster Spot

  1. Sven Baertschi, (LW, RW. Requires waivers)
  2. Antoine Roussel, (LW. Requires waivers)
  3. Brendan Leipsic, (LW. Requires waivers)
  4. Tim Schaller, (LW, C. Requires waivers)
  5. Nikolay Goldobin, (LW, RW. Requires waivers)
  6. Jonathan Dahlen, (LW, C. Waivers-Exempt)
  7. Brendan Gaunce, (LW, C. Requires waivers)
  8. Darren Archibald, (LW, RW. Requires waivers)
  9. Tyler Motte, (LW, C. Waivers-Exempt)
  10. Michael Carcone, (RW, LW, C. Waivers-Exempt)
  11. Jonah Gadjovivch, (LW. Waivers-Exempt)
  12. Petrus Palmu, (LW, RW. Waivers-Exempt)
  13. Bo Horvat, (C. Requires waivers)
  14. Brandon Sutter, (C. Requires waivers)
  15. Jay Beagle, (C. Requires waivers)
  16. Sam Gagner, (C, RW, LW. Requires waivers)
  17. Adam Gaudette, (C. Waivers-Exempt)
  18. Tanner Kero, (C. Requires waivers)
  19. Brock Boeser, (RW. Waivers-Exempt)
  20. Elias Pettersson, (RW, LW, C. Waivers-Exempt)
  21. Loui Eriksson, (RW, LW. Requires waivers)
  22. Jake Virtanen, (RW. Requires waivers)
  23. Markus Granlund, (RW, LW, C. Requires waivers)
  24. Reid Boucher, (RW, LW. Requires waivers)
  25. Zack MacEwen, (RW, C. Waivers-Exempt)
  26. Kole Lind, (RW. Waivers-Exempt)
  27. Lukas Jasek, (RW. Waivers-Exempt)

Image result for brendan leipsic

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

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.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

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.

Image result for sam gagner

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.

Image result for alex biega

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.

  • Killer Marmot

    Sautner and McEneny are good enough that there is a risk that they get picked up on waivers prior to the season opener. Likely not, I think, but stranger things have happened. This makes a trade more imperative.

    • Cory Hergott

      I think McEneny’s injury history might make it easier for him to pass through. He only played 11 games last year, I believe. Remember, if a player gets claimed, they have to stay on the claiming team’s NHL roster. Evan would have to have a really impressive camp to garner a waiver wire pick up at the start of the season. I could see a team that is weak on the blueline showing some interest in Sautner though. Most teams have those types of players in their system already and with the sheer number of players who hit the waiver wire out of camp, I think Vancouver will be safe. I do think that there are other players who could be snapped up if the Canucks decide to try their luck with slipping them through.

      • Killer Marmot

        I can easily see a manager reviewing Sautner’s performance in the NHL last spring and deciding that it looked better than his 6th or 7th defenseman, particularly if his team suffered injuries in the preseason. Good skaters always attract attention.

        • Cory Hergott

          I agree, KM. I have heard that Sautner is looking to add more of a physical element to his game going forward and I think that will only help his cause at the NHL level.

        • Ronning4ever

          I can’t see a manager making that kind of move off a 5 game stint. I also think this is a bit of a myth in todays game. Most mangers will be tracking hundreds of players with scouts and analysists over a season. Unless they’ve been watching and liking Sautners game over a season, I think he easily slides through. If his agent thought He could get a one way from a team on the open market, he’d probably already have made that move before last years extension.

    • tyhee

      Imo unless Sautner or McEneny is awfully impressive in the preseason imo the chances of either one being claimed on waivers at the start of the season is minimal. There is a higher chance one of them could be claimed if waived later on, after teams have more openings due to injuries.

    • Whatthe...

      Agreed, the one player I don’t have a strong feel for (in terms of whether he clears or not) is Sautner. I doubt he gets claimed but another team could take a swing.

      • Defenceman Factory

        In order for Sautner to get claimed he has to one of the very best waiver eligible Dmen cut from around the league and a team would have to decide they would rather have them on their roster than anyone else they cut. I can only see that happening if a team has a couple very serious injuries during training camp.

        • argoleas

          And, if they have such injuries, and do not have depth in their own system, then I believe it is likelier that they trade for someone. This is the type of situation where someone comes in and says “[email protected] it, we’ll take a Hutton.”

  • wojohowitz

    Surprisingly the forward position does not look like a logjam in that 16 require waivers and they only protect 13 so they might expose Boucher, Kero and Archibald. Maybe I`m missing something but it does not look like a problem.

    • Killer Marmot

      I’ve been saying that for weeks, especially if they’re willing to start Gaudette in Utica. Defense, however, will be a problem if there are no injuries and they want to go back to carrying seven defensemen.

    • Cory Hergott

      Gaunce is the other forward to go along with that group. I think they can survive the loss if he were to be claimed. Now, if Goldobin or Leipsic were to be waived when Schaller is ready to go, that is where people might get all in a lather

      • speering major

        Agreed. Gaunce is a no-brainer waive. His ceilling is nothing to worry about. You can basically sign a vet on a PTO to replace Gaunce any time you want. Cracknel, Skille, Upshall, etc

        I think Benning will give Goldobin a chance no matter what. He traded for him and he has pedigree. GM’s don’t give up on their own players this early. If Leipsic looks good then things could get interesting for a guy like Granlund.

        Also, if a couple young guys really shine out of camp then why wouldn’t they send Schaller down? They picked him up for nothing so if another team wants him, the Canucks lose nothing. Injuries will happen and moves will be made throughout the season.

        • argoleas

          The pickle is that Goldy, Leip and Granny are all Benning boys. Chances are that if they all have good training camps, and one needs to go, they will effect a trade. But of someone stinks, then waivers for him.

          • canuckfan

            Goldy, Leip, and Granlund were all brought in by Benning and didn’t cost the team anything. Benning does not have any personal attachment to anyone. All the young prospects were also brought in by Benning so he will want them to beat out a player who was a good roster player when they needed bodies. Benning wants the team to start gelling for the future. Green will mold the team as he wants players who work hard, are good team mates, and can move the puck up the ice with speed. The Gagners may be seen just as valuable in Utica playing with young prospects getting them ready for NHL and give them hope if they work hard and show they can play that they will be given a shot. Its now up to the young prospects to show they can play. There is more grit to be sure these guys no longer get pushed around.
            Granlund, Goldy, Leip, Gaunce, Boucher, Pouliot, Hutton, Gagner, MDZ, and Eriksson are on the bubble. Eriksson has not been scoring goals but has filled a role. Hard to score when the players you play with aren’t playing to get into a scoring position. Would love to see Eriksson play with Gaudette and Jake. He can pop in Jake’s rebounds.

  • Over crowding only appears to be a problem on the surface.
    Looking back at injury riddled seasons of the past, it’s safe to say that all players will get a kick at the can. We now have the right amount of depth to withstand injuries, and not only that, it creates internal competition. I like what I see.

    • Chris the Curmudgeon

      Of course you need depth to withstand injuries, but you don’t want to lose good players to waivers because you’re trying to sneak NHL guys down to Utica to make room for grinders on the big club. I think the fact is that we’re going to be awash in guys with call-up potential in the AHL, but we also signed at least one too many free agents and stand to lose someone we’d rather keep before injuries even start to take their toll. Yes, it’s good to create a scenario where a young guy can push a veteran off the roster if he earns a spot, but the team has so little flexibility right now that even without a young guy surprising and making the team, we still need to waive someone. That’s not ideal.

      • Ronning4ever

        I really don’t think they’ll be trying to sneak anyone down. My feeling is that (this is all dependent on Schaller starting on IR) a few players are going to have a month to get it together: Granlund, Pouliot, Hutton, Goldobin, etc. They’ll either show the promise required to stay in the game or not. If not they’ll get waived and buried or, on an outside chance, they’ll get traded. This is the way it should be really, IMHO.

        • canuckfan

          They haven’t been able to trade the bubble players as everyone has their own. Waive them my bet none will be claimed. If there are picked up by another team so what.

      • Whatthe...

        In the grand scheme of things who are the Canucks really worried about losing? They have a really good record when it comes to evaluating players in their system. The only two players I don’t want to see on waivers are Goldy or Leipsic – because I think there is a decent chance another team picks them up but if the team determines it is an acceptable risk I am fine with it. I don’t think losing either guy will move the needle significantly. If Schaller is injured for the first couple weeks that frees things up.

        • argoleas

          That’s very fair, unless the only reason you are waived is because of numbers. In other words, what if everyone shows up awesome in TC and PS? They still need to waive someone. Chances are that will not happen, but still…

      • kablebike

        If they are sending someone down, most times that means the player doesn’t deserve to be in the NHL over the competition. It’s a cruel game with no room to spare for “maybe” when a coach is trying to win. If a player cannot make the big club over another player, no doubt about it, that player belongs in the AHL to develop. NHL isn’t for development.

  • Holly Wood

    All teams are trying to establish a balance of prospects and depth players in the minors. I wouldn’t be too concerned if a Gaunce or a Gagner or a Sauntner gets picked off the waiver wire. Other clubs will be also exposing tweeners in the hope to get them through.

    • Dahlenfan

      I just don’t get why they signed 3 grinders as ufas. If they only signed 2 ofthem it would have made a lot more sense. I think jimbo has been trying(but failing) to move a defenceman and a forward at least. I agree that we don’t want to lose leipsic or goldy. But too be honest id rather lose goldy than leipsic. I’m not sure either are top 6 players but The difference to me between them is leipsic can play anywhere in the line up. Goldy is a top 6 or bust forward. I’d like to see gagner gone or kickass at training camp and prove myself and the non believers wrong.

      • argoleas

        To some degree I see why they got all 3 players (although I’m still concerned that they gave such term to two of them because they wanted those specific players).

        Roussel provides a knuckler replacement for Dorsett that can play defense and PK.

        Beagle provides a responsible pivot that can be relied on for tough matchups, this giving Canucks 2 instead of 1 such pivot. Why is this crucial? Last season, Canucks had Horvat and Sutter that could do tough minutes. Henrik could no longer and needed to be sheltered. Gagger was a fiasco, and so was Burmy. Observe how overtaxed both Horvat and Sutter were last year defensively. Now this season, Pettersson will need to be sheltered, and Gaudette is deemed by mgmt to be too green to take on a heavy defensive workload. So, to spell Horvat and Sutter, they brought in another experienced pivot that allows the team to now share the heaviest defensive work among 3 pivots. Now, I’m not necessarily a huge fan of the specific choice of Beagle or his contract, but I can agree on the overall strategery here.

        Schaller IMO just provides a bigger gritty warrior more suited to Green’s game than Gaunce and especially Granny, at least in mgmt’s eyes.

        It does really come down to whose roster spots they claim, not just this season but for the duration of their contracts. Hopefully it is the deadweight, and not promising prospects.