The Canucks roster has been a bit chaotic over the last week or so, with several players leaving and joining the roster. With the NHL trade deadline less than a week away, there may be more moves to come, so let’s take stock of the current Canucks roster and the injuries and transactions that have led us here.
Let’s start with the injuries.
For a brief moment after the All-Star break and the Canucks’ bye week, the Canucks were 100% healthy, or at least as healthy as hockey teams get. And, for that brief moment, the Canucks looked great. They wiped the floor with the Colorado Avalanche in a 5-1 drubbing and looked poised for a strong post-All-Star push for the playoffs.
Unfortunately, that healthiness lasted just one game.
Sven Baertschi missed the Canucks’ next game against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Canucks were quick to say that it wasn’t a concussion, but it turned out what they meant was it wasn’t a new concussion. Baertschi has been out since February 2nd — 8 games — with post-concussion syndrome and there’s no timetable for his return.
In that game against the Flyers, the Canucks’ took another blow to their lineup, as Alex Edler got his stick tangled up in Jakub Voracek’s skates and fell face first to the ice. While he managed to avoid facial fractures, he has still been out since February 4th — 7 games — with a concussion. He’s skating on his own, but has yet to return to practice and there is no timetable for his return at this point.
It turned out that Thatcher Demko was also injured prior to that game, suffering a knee sprain during warm-up. He’s been out since February 4th as well and, while he has skated on his own, he hasn’t returned to practice yet. Hopefully he won’t be out for too much longer.
Brandon Sutter missed the Canucks’ disastrous game against the San Jose Sharks on February 11th with an undisclosed injury that is rumoured to be a groin issue that will keep him out for at least two weeks. He has missed 4 games and isn’t back at practice yet, but could return to action by the end of the month.
As we’re all well aware at this point, Jacob Markstrom was also injured for that game against the Sharks, though he still sat on the bench as the ostensible backup. His “lower body tightness” didn’t ever take him out of the lineup, though it’s unclear where his health is at right now. In any case, he’s practicing and is expected to play on Thursday.
Chris Tanev suffered an ankle injury in the Canucks’ February 13th game against the Anaheim Ducks, likely when Ryan Getzlaf awkwardly fell on his foot. He has missed two games, with no timetable for his return.
Jake Virtanen also got injured by Getzlaf, who fractured his rib on an “accidental” collision in the neutral zone away from the puck. Virtanen has missed two games and is expected to be out for a month.
That's everyone. Not including Markstrom, that’s six Canucks dealing with injuries of varying severity. It includes one goaltender, two defencemen, and three forwards: a full starting lineup on the IR.
With all those injuries, the Canucks have had to make a bevy of transactions to fill out their roster. Let’s tackle them in chronological order.
After Edler’s injury, the Canucks called up defenceman Guillaume Brisebois from the Utica Comets as injury insurance. He spent two weeks with the Canucks before getting sent back down to the AHL on Tuesday, and appeared in two NHL games, albeit with less than 10 minutes of ice time in each of them.
Michael DiPietro got the call-up from the OHL on an emergency basis when Demko got injured. Only expected to backup Markstrom, DiPietro instead got thrust into action against the San Jose Sharks. He has since returned to the OHL.
With Baertschi already out for a week, the Canucks called up Zack MacEwen from the Comets on February 10th. He has appeared in four games with the Canucks and is still on the roster.
On February 12th, Adam Gaudette got the call with Sutter out of the lineup. Gaudette immediately made an impact with a two-point night against the Los Angeles Kings, but has still averaged a little under 10 minutes per game in ice time over the last three games. He’s likely with the Canucks to stay at this point, but that’s not a certainty.
The same day, the Canucks traded their 7th-round pick in 2020 to the New York Rangers for goaltender Marek Mazanec. His addition and the health of Markstrom meant DiPietro could go back to the Ottawa 67’s.
With Tanev out, the Canucks called up Luke Schenn, who the Canucks had previously acquired from the Anaheim Ducks in the Michael Del Zotto trade in mid-January. Schenn has yet to play a game with the Canucks, but is still on the roster.
On February 16th, the Canucks traded Sam Gagner to the Edmonton Oilers for Ryan Spooner. While Spooner has yet to play a game for the Canucks, he’s expected to step directly into the Canucks’ top-six. He could serve as a replacement for Baertschi if he is out long-term, though he could also provide another excuse to scratch Nikolay Goldobin.
When Brisebois was sent back down to Utica, Ashton Sautner got the call up on February 19th. Sautner played five games for the Canucks last season and didn’t look out of place. He’s dealt with some injury troubles in the AHL this season, which is why Brisebois initially got called up ahead of him.
The Canucks also signed Michael Leighton to a one year, two-way contract and put him through waivers to play for the Comets. He cleared waivers on Wednesday.
So, where does that leave the Canucks?
Based on line rushes at Wednesday’s practice, the Canucks will likely go with the following lineup on Thursday:
Josh Leivo - Bo Horvat - Tyler Motte
Ryan Spooner - Elias Pettersson - Brock Boeser
Antoine Roussel - Adam Gaudette - Markus Granlund
Loui Eriksson - Jay Beagle - Zack MacEwen
Ben Hutton - Troy Stecher
Derrick Pouliot - Alex Biega
Ashton Sautner - Erik Gudbranson
Scratches: Nikolay Goldobin, Tim Schaller, Luke Schenn
Injured: Sven Baertschi, Brandon Sutter, Jake Virtanen, Alex Edler, Chris Tanev, Thatcher Demko
Keep in mind, of course, that head coach Travis Green is notorious for putting together lines in practice that don’t get used in upcoming games. We will have to wait and see how the lines shake out on Thursday.