Today the Vancouver Canucks recalled Sam Gagner from the Marlies.
I bet that was his reaction, since playing in the NHL is what every player wants, but it’s not ours.
Gagner, on loan with the Marlies since just before the season began, is second on the team in points with seven goals and eight assists in 15 games played. He has been playing second line centre behind Chris Mueller, the points leader, after a brief trial at wing on Mueller’s line.
The Marlies are most limited in centre options. They have Mueller to man the top spot, Adam Brooks, who just returned to action after some health issues, Adam Cracknell, who was recently injured, and sometime fill-in Colin Greening.
With the callup of Trevor Moore to go to California with the Leafs and the issues with Brooks, the Marlies called up Brady Ferguson, the Growlers top scoring centre. He has appeared in one game so far. Josh Jooris is also capable of playing centre, but he isn’t as strong in the position as some other choices.
Until Cracknell returns, the Marlies will now be running very weak down the middle. Adam Brooks has to see this as his opportunity to take a step up. With health concerns and an early injury, he’s only played three games this season.
Even if Ferguson us truly ready for AHL play and Brooks steps up, the Marlies are going to find goals harder to come by with Gagner gone.
Gagner is under contract with the Canucks through to the end of next season with a cap hit of $3,150,000. The Canucks have been carrying $2,125,000 against their cap — the unburiable amount. He expressed a desire to play closer to his hometown and family, so when the Canucks didn’t want him on their roster, they made the loan deal with the Marlies.
The Canucks can keep Gagner on the roster for 29 days or 9 NHL games played before he requires waivers to be loaned back to the AHL. If they do decide to loan him back, we have to assume the Marlies would renew the deal to take him. To say the fans in Utica aren’t so fond of him right now is an understatement.
The Canucks are currently sitting with a roster of 22 with 13 forwards, so it’s not clear why they’ve decided they need him back. Vancouver, who flirted with top spot in their division are now back in third place. However, they have a -11 goal differential and are failing on the goals against, which is not something Gagner can help them with.
If the Marlies make another move to bring in an extra forward, we’ll let you know.