The Canucks have made their first call-ups from the AHL of the 2019-20 season. As is often the case, the call-ups from the AHL are not expected to get in the lineup.
Goaltender Zane McIntyre was called up on Monday, while defenceman Ashton Sautner got the call on Tuesday, prior to the Canucks game against the Detroit Red Wings.
The McIntyre call-up comes as a result of Jacob Markstrom taking a personal leave of absence from the team. The Canucks have given no further information about his absence, and it would be inappropriate to speculate, but they have assured that he should be back by the weekend.
Calling up McIntyre doesn’t require any further roster moves, as Markstrom is designated as a non-roster player during his leave of absence. What this means on the ice is that Thatcher Demko should get the next two starts: Tuesday against the Detroit Red Wings and Thursday against the defending Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues on the road.
This is a great opportunity for Demko to prove himself after a long offseason of hard work and preparation. Demko had a mixed preseason, looking fantastic against the Edmonton Oilers in an early game, then much shakier against the Ottawa Senators a week later. But that’s the preseason, which means messy defensive structure and non-roster players in the lineup: Tuesday and Thursday will be his first real test.
As for Sautner, his call-up was precipitated by Oscar Fantenberg taking ill. There have been no further details about Fantenberg, but perhaps this is related to the virus that took Micheal Ferland out of the lineup in the preseason.
To call up Sautner, the Canucks do have to make a roster move, as Tyler Motte has been activated off the Injured Reserve list. Travis Green was cagey and vague about how the Canucks would make room for Sautner on the roster, but did confirm that no one would be sent down to Utica.
That means Adam Gaudette, who comes out of the lineup against the Red Wings for Motte, will stay on the roster, even as he’s the only waiver-exempt player that would be possibly sent down.
In order to make room for Sautner, then, the Canucks have to put someone on IR to replace Motte. While nothing has been confirmed, the likely candidate is Fantenberg: perhaps his illness is serious enough for him to miss a week.
The upshot for McIntyre and Sautner is a nice salary bonus. McIntyre makes $400,000 in the AHL, but $700,000 in the NHL, worked out on a day-by-day basis. That's a nice boost to his paycheque, but it's even more significant for Sautner, makes $100,000 per year in the AHL and $700,000 in the NHL. Even if they're unlikely to actually get in the lineup, they at least get a nice raise for however many days they're up with the Canucks.