The Vancouver Canucks announced today that Chris Tanev has been assigned to the Chicago Wolves of the AHL. This may initially come as a bit of a surprise: while Tanev hasn’t been outstanding, finding himself a healthy scratch twice, he also hasn’t been terrible. It appeared that Vigneault was rotating Tanev and Alberts in and out of the lineup depending on the opponent, with Tanev in against speedier, more skilled teams and Alberts in against larger, more physical teams.
This move wasn’t about how well Tanev was playing, however. Instead, it’s about his contract status. Since Tanev is on his entry-level contract and hasn’t played in enough NHL games, he’s exempt from going through waivers to get down to the AHL. The only other player on the Canucks’ active roster who is exempt from waivers is Cody Hodgson.
The only reason that the Canucks would need to send a player down is if they will soon be exceeding the 23-man active roster limit. This means that a player on injured reserve will be returning soon, perhaps in time for tomorrow’s game against the Rangers. Guess what: Ryan Kesler skated on the second line and with the first-unit on the powerplay in practice today. All signs indicate that he is ready to return, much sooner than his timetable of November indicated. (Edit: it has been confirmed that Kesler is in the lineup tomorrow)
Tanev being sent down is great news for Hodgson, who skated on the second line with Kesler and Chris Higgins in practice. It looks like he’ll be given the opportunity to skate on Kesler’s wing. Meanwhile, the Canucks still have Alexander Sulzer on the active roster to be their seventh defenceman until Aaron Rome returns from his injury.
This isn’t all bad news for Tanev, either. He’ll be given plenty of ice time with the Wolves and will have more of an opportunity to develop all aspects of his game. While he wasn’t going to see any time on the powerplay in Vancouver, he may get some opportunities on the man-advantage in Chicago. The Canucks truly believe that Tanev can develop into an offensive threat as well as a poised defender and he will get the chance to prove that in the AHL.Tags: Chicago Wolves, Chris Tanev, featured, Ryan Kesler