Explaining Canucks Zack Kassian and Nicklas Jensen’s Demotion


Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Vancouver Canucks right winger Zack Kassian‘s demotion to the minors might have been for disciplinary reasons, but it appears it was also done to make him eligible to play for the Chicago Wolves in the AHL playoffs.

In years past, AHL teams were required to declare a Clear Day roster consisting of 22 players a week after the NHL trade deadline. Only the players on the list would be eligible to play for the rest of the regular season and playoffs. As a result, each year teams would “paper” down prospects in order to make them eligible.

The new collective bargaining agreement has removed the Clear Day roster process, but teams still needed to “paper” down players on Wednesday to make them eligible to be included in the team’s playoff roster, which is due on April 22 at 12pm PDT.

Kassian was sent down on Sunday and centre Jordan Schroeder went down after the acquisition of Derek Roy from the Dallas Stars on Tuesday. Shortly after practice on Wednesday, wingers Nicklas Jensen and Bill Sweatt were both sent back to the Wolves as well.

The Canucks quickly recalled Jensen and Kassian after the 12pm PDT trade deadline.

These moves were made to allow all four players to be included in the April 22 playoff roster and be eligible for the AHL playoffs. National Hockey League rules state that only players recalled after the trade deadline are eligible to return play in the AHL playoffs, according to Tyson Giuriato.

Kassian, Jensen, Schroeder, and Sweatt would not have been able to play for the Wolves in the playoffs had the Canucks not re-assigned the four back to the Wolves prior to Wednesday’s 12pm PDT trade deadline.

Since the Canucks are short two forwards, they had to use two of their four recalls allowed after trade deadline to bring Kassian and Jensen back up.

It was previously reported in the media that the “four recall rule” had been removed in the new CBA, but the NHL and NHLPA’s memorandum of understanding states the rule is still in place. It says teams will be limited to four recalls between the trade deadline and the end of the regular season. Previously teams were limited to four recalls from the trade deadline until the end of the minor league team’s season.

"The existing “Four Recall Rule” will continue to be applicable, but only during the period between the Trade Deadline and the end of the Regular Season. Following the conclusion of the NHL Regular Season, a Club may exercise an unlimited number of additional Regular Recalls provided that it may have no more than three (3) Players on its Active Roster who were recalled by way of Regular Recall after the Trade Deadline, unless the fourth Player had been recalled during the Regular Season in which case such Player may remain in the NHL."

Recalls made under emergency conditions when the team falls below two goaltenders and 18 skaters do not count towards the four recalls.

It means bubble players Andrew Ebbett and Cam Barker will likely remain with the Canucks for the rest of the season. The Canucks could still send them to the Wolves and both could play for the team in the regular season, but neither player will be able to play in the playoffs.