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Photo Credit: © Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

Waivers Part 2: Who Might The Canucks Claim From Waivers This Preseason?

Earlier this week, we discussed which Vancouver Canucks are likely to hit waivers sometime before the regular season opens on October 3, 2019—and found the list to be rather lengthy. With a rebuilt blueline and an overstuffed forward corps, one might assume that the Canucks will avoid claiming any players themselves during the annual preseason waiver rush as rosters are finalized—but the possibility remains, especially if the team does end up losing a player or two to the waiver wire themselves.

A team in the Canucks’ current position—still lacking in overall organizational depth while trying to transition to contention—can never turn a blind eye to the prospect of free assets, and there are a number of circumstances that could see the team put in one or more claims.

Firstly, many are still expecting GM Jim Benning to trade a high-priced player or two—whether it be Brandon Sutter, Chris Tanev, or someone else—to accommodate Brock Boeser’s extension, and that could open up a spot for a cheap replacement. So could any major injuries sustained during the preseason, which are practically inevitable. Antoine Roussel is already starting the season on the IR, and he probably won’t be the only one.

As well, the Canucks may find that some of the players available on waivers—namely those cut from the deepest rosters in the league—simply represent an upgrade on their current depth options. It’s not outlandish to suggest that a better player than Tyler Motte or Oscar Fantenberg ends up being waived near the start of the season and Benning should be ready to jump at any such opportunity with the Canucks sitting ninth on the current waiver priority list.

So, who are these potential premium waivees? Let’s take a look at depth charts around the league to try to predict who won’t make the cut in 2019/20—and who will thus be available for the Canucks to snag.

 

Forwards 

The Canucks’ forward corps is already jam-packed with players at every position, but there are also a lot of lingering question marks about where exactly everyone will fit. The situation is nebulous enough that all it would take is an injury or two—or a couple of disappointing preseasons—to send Jim Benning scrambling for a replacement on the waiver wire.

Michael Dal Colle, LW (23)

  Team Games Goals Assists Points
NHL (2018/19) New York Islanders 28 3 4 7
AHL (2018/19) Bridgeport 34 18 16 34

This will be the year that most players selected in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft will become eligible for waivers, and Dal Colle—picked one spot before Jake Virtanen—is definitely the prize pick among the bunch in terms of draft pedigree. Though Dal Colle finally broke through to the big leagues last year, the Islanders are chocked full of bottom-six wingers already—and have a couple of other talented youngsters looking to make the jump.

It’s entirely plausible that Dal Colle ends up on waivers—and he’s probably worth the gamble if one or more of the Canucks’ top-nine winger options go down with injury or fail to impress in the preseason.

 

Robby Fabbri, C/LW (23)

  Team Games Goals Assists Points
NHL (2018/19) St. Louis 32 2 4 6
AHL (2018/19) San Antonio 3 1 1 2

Fabbri’s career has been greatly hampered by injury thus far, and he’s subsequently been passed on the St. Louis depth chart by several other young forwards—including fellow left wingers Zach Sanford and Sammy Blais.

That could put 2014’s 21st overall pick on waivers by the end of this preseason—though, like Dal Colle, he’d probably only be worth a look if the Canucks have an unexpected vacancy in the top nine.

 

AJ Greer, LW (22)

  Team Games Goals Assists Points
NHL (2018/19) Colorado 15 1 1 2
AHL (2018/19) Colorado 54 19 25 44

Greer is a 2015 draft pick eligible for waivers at the age of 22. He’s also an enormous power forward that could feasibly fit in on any line. Greer found his offense at the AHL level last season, proving that he has some untapped potential as a pro scorer—and already he looks roughly equivalent to several players the Canucks are considering for their bottom-six.

If Greer hits waivers, as he’s projected to after Colorado added multiple forwards in the offseason, the 39th overall pick in 2015 will probably get nabbed by someone. Another factor to consider is Greer’s offseason arrest for assault following an altercation alongside Columbus winger Sonny Milano.

 

Josh Ho-Sang, RW (23)

  Team Games Goals Assists Points
NHL (2018/19) New York Islanders 10 1 1 2
AHL (2018/19) Bridgeport 56 8 35 43

Ho-Sang is an enigma, but he’s also one that GM Lou Lamoriello may have given up trying to solve. Ho-Sang’s less-than-impressive ten game stint with the Islanders last season means he’ll need a particularly excellent training camp to crack the New York lineup—and it wouldn’t be entirely unexpected if he ended up on waivers instead, though Lamoriello will likely seek a trade first.

The 28th overall pick in 2014 is an enticing potential pickup, but he’s also one that would be wasted anywhere outside of a team’s top-six—so the Canucks should steer clear of Ho-Sang unless they encounter a surprise injury in the preseason.

 

Vladislav Kamenev, C/LW (22)

  Team Games Goals Assists Points
NHL (2018/19) Colorado 23 2 3 5
AHL (2018/19) Colorado 2 0 1 1

Kamenev is an absolute wild card. He’s only been healthy for one of the last six seasons, and now he’s run out of waiver-exemption and will be in tough to crack a deep Colorado forward corps.

Kamenev could fit all over a team’s lineup, but his injuries make him such a question mark that it’s entirely possible the 42nd overall pick in 2014 slips right through waivers.

 

Sonny Milano, LW (23)

  Team Games Goals Assists Points
NHL (2018/19) Columbus 8 1 0 1
AHL (2018/19) Cleveland 27 11 13 24

Milano may have already run out of chances with the Columbus organization before his offseason arrest for assault—but now it seems all the more likely that the 16th overall pick in 2014 hits waivers after being passed on the depth chart by younger prospects.

Milano hasn’t exactly set the pro hockey scene on fire since being drafted, but 2018/19 was his best AHL season yet—with 24 points in 27 games—hinting that he yet has a chance of breaking out offensively. Still, Milano’s off-ice issues make him an unlikely target for an organization that has emphasized targeting high-character players.

 

Evgeny Svechnikov, RW (22)

  Team Games Goals Assists Points
NHL (2018/19) Detroit 0 0 0 0
AHL (2018/19) Grand Rapids 0 0 0 0

A preseason injury kept Svechnikov—2015’s 19th overall pick and the older brother of Andrei—out for the entire season. As such, he’d be an extremely risky waiver claim for any organization—but he could also return a potentially high reward if he’s fully recovered.

If the Canucks are unhappy with one or more of their top-nine right wing options following the preseason, taking a flyer on Svechnikov could be well worth the gamble.

 

Dmytro Timashov, LW (22)

  Team Games Goals Assists Points
NHL (2018/19) Toronto 0 0 0 0
AHL (2018/19) Toronto 72 14 35 49

The Canucks have a recent history—see Brendan Leipsic and Josh Leivo—of poaching depth wingers from the Maple Leafs, and Timashov could be the next in line. He’s a player that Toronto fans insist is ready for the big leagues, and despite his somewhat pedestrian AHL numbers he’s played a valuable role on some fantastic Marlies teams for three seasons now.

The 125th overall pick in 2015 saves his best hockey for the playoffs, and he seems the sort that could break out offensively at the NHL level—though it’s hard to imagine a spot for him in the Vancouver lineup barring multiple preseason injuries.

 

Carter Verhaeghe, C/LW (23)

  Team Games Goals Assists Points
NHL (2018/19) Tampa Bay 0 0 0 0
AHL (2018/19) Syracuse 76 34 48 82

The 23-year-old Verhaeghe lit the AHL on fire in 2018/19—but he’ll still be in tough to join the extraordinarily deep Tampa Bay lineup this season. He’s bounced around the league a bit since being drafted 82nd overall in 2013, but he also has the size and versatility to fill multiple roles at the NHL level—if a team is willing to take a chance on him.

The Lightning will have a difficult time sneaking Verhaeghe through waivers this preseason—though they successfully did so last September—but the Canucks don’t seem like a likely team to claim him.

 

Defensemen

The Canucks are well-stocked on the blue line, with eight full-time NHL defenders already signed and others like Olli Juolevi, Ashton Sautner, and Guillaume Brisebois ready to break through. In other words, it would take at least a couple injuries for the Canucks to go looking for defensive help on the waiver wire—but then again, that’s not an entirely unlikely preseason outcome.

If they go looking, the following players represent enticing options.

Haydn Fleury, LD (23)

  Team Games Goals Assists Points
NHL (2018/19) Carolina 20 0 1 1
AHL (2018/19) Charlotte 28 2 8 10

The defense-first Fleury has progressed well since being drafted—but he’s also faced with the task of cracking one of the deepest defense corps in the league. Fleury may be currently pencilled into the lineup, but he could be easily supplanted by Gustav Forsling or Jake Bean—and that could mean a trip through waivers for the 7th overall pick in 2014.

 

Robert Hagg, LD (24)

  Team Games Goals Assists Points
NHL (2018/19) Philadelphia 82 5 15 20
AHL (2018/19) Lehigh Valley 0 0 0 0

Whenever Ivan Provorov signs his RFA contract, he’ll bump both Hagg and Sam Morin out of the Philadelphia lineup—and he could also necessitate one of the two being placed on waivers. Hagg has spent the last two seasons as a full-time Flyer—putting up 20 points in 2018/19—so it’s likely that Philadelphia would seek a trade rather than risk losing him for nothing, but stranger things have happened.

 

Joe Hicketts, LD (23)

  Team Games Goals Assists Points
NHL (2018/19) Detroit 11 0 0 0
AHL (2018/19) Grand Rapids 64 3 24 27

Hicketts is a BC native who gained recognition for his World Juniors performances in 2015 and 2016—despite never being drafted. Signed as a free agent by the Red Wings, Hicketts now finds himself buried on the surprisingly deep Detroit blue line. His trademark big hits could make him a fan favourite in Vancouver.

 

Julius Honka, RD (23)

  Team Games Goals Assists Points
NHL (2018/19) Dallas 29 0 4 4
AHL (2018/19) Texas 0 0 0 0

Honka has been playing pro hockey since being drafted 14th overall in 2014, but his development appears to have stalled after spending much of the 2018/19 season in the Dallas press box. Honka failed to crack the Stars’ oft-injured blue line for a reason, and his offense has yet to make a real appearance at the pro level—but there’s also some untapped potential there.

 

Roland McKeown, RD (23)

  Team Games Goals Assists Points
NHL (2018/19) Carolina 10 0 3 3
AHL (2018/19) Charlotte 70 4 21 25

McKeown is famous in Canucks circles for being the player drafted with the pick Vancouver traded for Linden Vey, but he’s since joined the Carolina organization—which is bad news for his chances of cracking the NHL in 2019/20. A defensive specialist, the 50th overall pick in 2014 stands to be the best right-handed defenseman to pass through waivers this preseason—and that alone makes him likely to be claimed.

 

Samuel Morin, LD (24)

  Team Games Goals Assists Points
NHL (2018/19) Philadelphia 5 0 0 0
AHL (2018/19) Lehigh Valley 2 0 0 0

Morin’s situation was outlined in the Robert Hagg segment, but the 11th overall pick in 2013 is a very different player than his Swedish teammate. The 6’6” Morin is definitely a defenseman of the punishing variety, and thus carries with him a unique set of skills that is always in high demand on NHL rosters. He also missed the majority of the 2018/19 following ACL surgery, so he’s a bit of a mystery.



  • jaybird43

    It’s kind of interesting to see some of these guys maybe hitting the waiver wire, particularly Dale Colle and Fleury, each of whom brackets JV18 in the draft. For all the Benning haters, think about that, how tough it is to draft; at least no one’s talking about JV18 like that Then there’s the much CA-ballyhooed Honka, who is also now close to waiver wire player.

      • Beer Can Boyd

        JV, Gaudette, and Roussel when he’s healthy, is going to be a fearsome 3rd line… also want to see MacEwan get a fair shake to make the team on the 4th line.

      • I’m also predicting a big year for Virtanen. Benning didn’t pick the best player available, but he also didn’t pick the worst. I appreciate having a unique talent in Virtanen and think he could be a big part of future playoff teams.

  • Kanuckhotep

    The above list of players shown is a shining example of how stupid drafting 18 y.o.s is. But the law is the law and you cannot stop these young adults from earning a living. Maybe 5 or 6 out of 217 picked in a given year will actually step in but the majority simple are not ready. It’s an old discussion I grant you and the process is about as likely to change as US gun laws.

      • Hockey Bunker

        With better leagues in Europe, more players would pull a Matthews and just play there to earn a living and NHL might not see them for even longer. Being a crap shoot is part of the appeal to me, you never really know……

        • I too enjoy the crapshoot. If you think about it, each team drafts an average of seven players each year, but only has room for about one or two rookies each season. It’s only natural that the vast majority of picks won’t make it.

  • Hockey Bunker

    JBs job, like all GMs, is to find better players to replace every single one of his current roster. However, if any of the above were available I expect the Senators will scoop up every one of them. Why not? Their team is bad and all would be an upgrade.

    • Eugene Melnyk won’t be willing to take on that many new contracts, but I could definitely see the Sens nabbing a player or two on this list.

      I also think Columbus is a major threat to poach waivers this season after their major asset exodus.

  • Hockey Bunker

    JBs job, like all GMs, is to find better players to replace every single one of his current roster, eventually. Can’t fall in love with your players. However, if any of the above were available I expect the Senators will scoop up every one of them. Why not? Their team is bad and all would be an upgrade.

  • Puck Viking

    Hoping Roland McKweon is available to pick up. Would be a huge upgrade as a 7th defenseman. He is actually who I wanted to draft with our 2nd rounder that year.

  • Locust

    Anyone we lose on waivers is easily replaceable. This is a ‘show me’ league and having guys fight for a roster spot is exactly what we need to instill a competitive attitude.

  • neal

    First of all I do not like Canucks Army new format. That being said it is amazing how many high draft picks have not produced. Brackett has it correct character. If you don’t have heart you go nowhere.

      • Gino's 3rd Cousin

        I think Neal is talking about the comment section. Quite a few have posted they are fine w the trash button disappearing, but the cheers button seems to be missed. I would tend to agree, but happy there seems to be less trolling in here.

        • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

          Is that the pot calling the kettle black? You troll anybody who isn’t fighting your tongue’s position firmly at Benning’s backside.

          • Gino's 3rd Cousin

            Haha, if you actually paid attention I’ve been critical of some of Jim’s moves. You on the other hand have been 100% living in the Dumpster. You’re outlook is sad and I guarantee it spills into your personal life as well. You pretend it comes from critical thinking, but the birthplace of your thoughts is in the garbage. In the fire you shall stay.

  • Holly Wood

    Don’t really want to poke a hole in your column Stephan, but why would you think Robert Hagg would possibly be exposed on waivers. 6’2” 210 lb LHD puts up 20 pts and under contract for one more year at a touch over a million. Philly will be making changes with Fletcher in there but really doubt that will be one. Let’s check back on this in two months. If they expose a D it won’t be Hagg

    • As I said in the article, I think Hagg probably gets traded before he ever sniffs waivers, but it’s not all that unlikely that he’s the odd one out in Philly.

      The flyers have Provorov, Gostisbehere, and Sanheim already on the left side, along with Niskanen, Braun, and Myers on the right. Both Hagg and Morin are extra left-handers.

      The Flyers are probably going to have to send one of Hagg or Morin, or a talented forward, through waivers if they can’t find a trade.

      • Holly Wood

        Noted that suggested trade before waivers, that’s the dilemma most teams face, decisions on their 6,7,8 defencemen and how to avoid losing them. Thank you for your replies to questions on here

  • Killer Marmot

    I find extraordinarily unlikely that the coconuts will claim anyone in the preseason. First, claims are rare in the preseason. Far more teams are more interested in reducing their rosters than adding to them. Second, the cocos have respectable depth, even down into Utica. For every position except possibly goaltending, they have prospects deserving a chance.

    • TheRealPB

      To add to this, you have to be willing to have whoever you claim immediately join your roster and stay up (or risk losing them yourself on waivers). It’s why waiver claims are not made nearly as often as you might think and why a bunch of these players are appearing a second time. With the logjam of forwards we already have I doubt we take a flyer on any of them. And unless Biega and Fantenberg are completely useless in training camp I think it’s unlikely that we pick up one of the D either — it sends a pretty bad message about loyalty to let Biega be sidelined by a waiver wire pickup (as opposed to Fantenberg who was at least a legitimate NHL player we signed to be depth) or to prospective FA if Fantenberg is also displaced by a waiver prospect.

  • Jim "Dumpster Fire" Benning

    Is Loui Eriksson available on waivers? I hear he’s really good. Benning should target him. I figure he could be had at a modest 6×6 deal.