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Photo Credit: © Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

The Canucks are making the best of the Travis Hamonic situation by getting Jack Rathbone back into the NHL

The Vancouver Canucks announced that defenceman Jack Rathbone has been recalled from Abbotsford while defenceman Travis Hamonic was loaned to the AHL on Wednesday morning.

This transaction gives both players a chance to get into game action. The Abbotsford Canucks have games this weekend on Friday and Sunday against the San Jose Barracuda. Meanwhile, Vancouver hits the road for a three-game road trip through Colorado on Thursday, Vegas on Saturday, and Anaheim on Sunday before returning home to play the Avalanche on Wednesday.

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Because Travis Hamonic was recalled in the last 30 days, he is waiver-exempt with the loan to Abbotsford.

Hamonic is working towards being considered fully vaccinated under the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols and then will be able to travel to and from the United States for games. We do not know when that date will be but Travis Green told us that it is going to be soon. He spoke about Hamonic on November 1st.

This situation gives Rathbone a chance to get back into game action and should result in the return of Rathbone and Kyle Burroughs as a pairing. Luke Schenn was placed on injured reserve as part of the transaction of swapping Hamonic for Rathbone. 

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With Schenn going to IR, the Canucks currently have seven defencemen on their active roster. Brad Hunt will be an option on the three-game road trip but the club may wish to explore calling up one of Noah Juulsen, Ashton Sautner, or Madison Bowey if Schenn will be out for the entirety of the trip.

Calling up Rathbone is the right decision. He was struck with horrible luck in his eight NHL games this year. Rathbone was on the ice for 53 scoring chances this year while having a team on-ice shooting percentage of 1.59%. This is simply not sustainable and when the puck luck begins to turn, Rathbone’s offensive skill will begin to shine.

Rathbone told CanucksArmy that he had a good conversation with Travis Green and management about improving his 200-foot play. The quick stint in the AHL has him focused on being better in his own zone.

“Over the past year and a half, since I’ve turned pro, I think I’ve put my best foot forward in terms of trying to round out my game, but I mean, every player has those things that they have to work on,” said Rathbone. “I think those offensive things will come and right now it’s about working on my 200-foot game. Obviously, that was a lot of the reason why I was sent down, so, working on my defensive play is going to be key going forward.”

At only 22 years old, Rathbone has a lot of growing to do but clearly shows that his offensive skill is at an NHL level. 

As for Hamonic, he will stay in shape with Abbotsford and play a ridiculous amount of minutes over the weekend. Abbotsford Canucks head coach Trent Cull knows the value that Hamonic can bring to an AHL lineup and will likely use him on both special teams units while playing on the team’s top pairing at even strength.

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Canucks’ management is going about playing time the right way as the team waits for Hamonic’s vaccine status to be at the point in which he can travel to and from the United States freely. Rathbone will get some NHL action and can be sent back down if he is not in the Vancouver Canucks’ plans after this road trip. The key for both of these players is getting them as much playing time as possible. The Canucks are doing that even though it is coming from a situation that is not ideal for the club.

We will keep you posted on Hamonic’s AHL games this weekend as well as Rathbone’s return to the NHL.