With Jay Beagle returning to the lineup, someone had to go.
The Vancouver Canucks have announced that Sam Gagner is going back to the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League. Gagner, recalled just over two weeks ago, does not need to clear waivers to be sent back to the minors.
(While the Marlies are affiliated with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Canucks retain his NHL rights. Gagner played 15 games for the Marlies earlier this season.)
That said, the move is something of a surprise, given the 29-year-old had been playing regular minutes on the first power play unit and on Bo Horvat’s wing since being called up Nov. 18.
In seven games, he scored a goal and added a pair of assists; his 5.9 shooting percentage is below his career percentage of 9.4 per cent, suggesting he was unlucky not to have lit the lamp at least once more.
By the eye test, he was playing well for the Canucks and the underlying numbers back that up: the Canucks were controlling nearly 60 per cent of the total shot attempts while he was on the ice.
The only other player on the roster who currently is waiver-exempt is Adam Gaudette, but the team seems happy enough to keep playing him as the fourth-line centre, even with Jay Beagle’s return to the lineup.
Twice now in two days the Canucks have moved on from offensively minded players; Brendan Leipsic was lost on waivers to the Los Angeles Kings. Leipsic didn’t play a lot, but a good portion of his time was also on Bo Horvat’s wing. Like Gagner, his underlying numbers were good — and in his case there was also a bit of bad luck when it came to how much the puck was going in the Canucks’ net — but he only scored twice in 17 games.
As currently constructed, the Canucks are looking to run two scoring lines and two more defensively oriented lines; with Sven Baertschi now on a course that could see him back in the lineup sooner rather than later, barring another injury, another roster move will have to happen.
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