Canucks reduce 2021 preseason roster by 16 players

KELOWNA, BC - DECEMBER 01: Chase Wouters #44 of the Saskatoon Blades warms up against the Kelowna Rockets at Prospera Place on December 1, 2018 in Kelowna, Canada. (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)
KELOWNA, BC - DECEMBER 01: Chase Wouters #44 of the Saskatoon Blades warms up against the Kelowna Rockets at Prospera Place on December 1, 2018 in Kelowna, Canada. (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images) /

The Vancouver Canucks have made some changes to their preseason roster.

The team released the information during Sunday afternoon’s tilt against the Winnipeg Jets, reducing their current group by 16 players.

Four players were released from their amateur tryouts for the purpose of being sent to Abbotsford, including forward Chase Wouters and defenceman Alex Kannok-Leipert.

Wouters, who was Abbotsford’s first official signing after being relocated from Utica, spent the past five seasons with the Saskatoon Blades in the WHL, serving as their captain for the final three years. The high-energy centre signed his first AHL contract with Abbotsford this past July.

Kannok-Leipert is another WHL product, having spent the past four years with the Vancouver Giants. During his time in Vancouver, Kannok-Leipert registered 83 points in 219 regular season games, as well as 12 points in 22 playoff games. The right-handed blueliner, who was originally drafted by the Washington Capitals back in 2018, also wore the “C” for his final two years with the Giants.

The team also released three players from their professional tryouts, including defenceman Ashton Sautner and forward Vincent Arseneau.

Sautner originally signed an entry-level contract with the Canucks back in 2015 after playing four seasons with the Edmonton Oil Kings. He spent most of his time in Utica since landing his ELC, notching 11 goals and 38 assists in 240 games. The left-handed blueliner made his NHL debut on March 25th, 2018 against the Dallas Stars.

Sautner spent most of last season on Vancouver’s taxi squad before being loaned to the Manitoba Moose. He is currently signed to a one-year deal with Abbotsford.

Like Sautner, Arseneau has also spent most of his time in Utica over the past few seasons. The 6’2″, 221-pound winger recorded 21 goals, six assists and 234 PIM in 104 games between 2018 and 2021, and should bring toughness, grit and veteran leadership to Vancouver’s farm team.

The Canucks also placed four players on waivers for the purpose of AHL assignment on Monday morning, including netminder Spencer Martin, who was acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning earlier this summer. The 26-year-old goaltender was originally drafted by the Colorado Avalanche during the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, and will join Arturs Silovs and likely Michael DiPietro in Abbotsford for the upcoming season.

Silovs, Jett Woo and Karel Plasek, all of whom are exempt from waivers, were loaned directly back to Abbotsford.

Viktor Persson and Connor Lockhart were also assigned back to their respective junior teams. Persson, who was drafted 191st overall by the Canucks in 2020, will play with the Kamloops Blazers in the WHL while Lockhart, drafted 178th overall in 2021, will join the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League.

One notable name that was not included in this list was forward Danila Klimovich.

Klimovich, who recently signed his entry-level contract after being selected 41st overall this past summer, spent the last season with Minskie Zubry in the Vysshaya Liga, Belarus’s second-tier hockey league, where he registered 28 goals, 24 assists and 40 PIM in 37 regular season games.

Shortly after being drafted, Klimovich signed a trial contract with the Dynamo Minsk of the KHL, and appeared to fit in quite nicely, notching a goal and an assist in his first game with the Russian club. Given the remaining players on the preseason roster, it’s expected that Klimovich will eventually end up in the QMJHL at the end of training camp, but the door is currently slightly open for the Belarusian forward to land a spot in Abbotsford.

Head coach Travis Green will also need to make some room on the roster for Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes, both of whom signed new contract extensions over the weekend, and are expected to play in the final two preseason contests. The team is also still without blueliner Travis Hamonic, who is reportedly still back home in Manitoba due to a “personal family matter”. The 31-year-old blueliner will not be opting out of the upcoming season, despite his current absence from the team.

The Canucks are set to face off against the Seattle Kraken on Tuesday night at Rogers Arena. Puck drop is set for 7pm PST.

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What are your thoughts on the first set of roster cuts? Let us know in the comments!