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

Forwards

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)
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.
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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.
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.
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Defence

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)
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.
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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.

Goalies

Waiver Eligible Lock: Jacob Markstrom
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.