Trying to keep up with the Canucks’ roster and lineup changes feels a bit exhausting. On Monday, Brendan Leipsic got claimed off waivers, then the Canucks traded for Josh Leivo.
With Jay Beagle returning from injury, however, the Canucks needed to make one more roster move. Though no official announcement has been made just yet, Sam Gagner is off the Canucks’ official roster and appears to be the one getting sent back down to the AHL. That comes as a surprise, considering he was playing in the top-six and getting first unit power play time.
The Canucks had the option of sending Adam Gaudette, who does not require waivers, down to the AHL. Many assumed that would be the move, as it would avoid the risk of losing another player off waivers like Leipsic, while also giving Gaudette a chance to build some confidence.
Gaudette has just four points in 23 games and has played over 10 minutes in just one of his last six games. Against the Dallas Stars on Saturday he played just 5:55, while he played just 3:52 against the Los Angeles Kings on November 27th. It was a pretty understandable assumption that he would get some time in Utica to play more significant minutes and find his scoring touch.
On top of that, Travis Green announced that Nikolay Goldobin would be a healthy scratch for Tuesday night’s game against the Minnesota Wild.
Green: Not just so he can play in the NHL, but so we have players who can win in the NHL. Sometimes with a young player, sitting & watching a game is not a bad thing. Goldy will get back in and be better off for it.— Sportsnet 650 (@Sportsnet650) December 4, 2018
Green explained that Goldobin needs a “reset” and that watching a game would help him in the long run. In the short run, it’s a tough sell to some Canucks fans, considering Goldobin is third on the team in scoring and has been creating a lot of chances for his teammates.
Other fans suggest that Green knows what buttons to push — other healthy scratches of young players in the past have been followed up by good results from those players. Perhaps Goldobin, who has just one points in his last five games, could use a game in the press box to evaluate himself and the team and come back better for it.
Still, it’s tough to swallow when the Canucks lineup starts to look thin on skill. With Leipsic gone, Gagner sent to the AHL, and Goldobin scratched, there are limited options for skilled wingers to play with Bo Horvat and Elias Pettersson.
Leivo will slot into the lineup, likely alongside Horvat and Antoine Roussel. With no Goldobin, Pettersson will most likely play with Loui Eriksson and Brock Boeser. If Gaudette is staying, he’s playing, most likely with Markus Granlund and Jake Virtanen. Meanwhile, the returning Beagle is likely to play with Tim Schaller and Tyler Motte as a match-up checking line.
Looking at that lineup, it’s hard to imagine that Gagner couldn’t find a spot in it. It’s also not hard to find players that need a “reset” as much or more than Goldobin.
Travis Green has made it clear, however, that his goal is to develop the Canucks into the best team they can possibly be. As much as he wants to win every game, he has his sights set on a long-term goal, and we have seen development from the likes of Ben Hutton, Jake Virtanen, and even Nikolay Goldobin.
It just might make Tuesday’s game a little bit less entertaining to watch.