As expected, the Vancouver Canucks have placed goaltender Mike McKenna on waivers today. McKenna was acquired earlier this week from the Ottawa Senators, but will likely swap placed with Thatcher Demko in the AHL so the young goaltending prospect can get a chance at the NHL level with the Canucks. McKenna will almost certainly take over the starting role with the Utica Comets, unless another team believes he can help them more in the NHL.
McKenna, 35, has played all over North America throughout his professional career, hitting the ice for six different NHL teams and 13 AHL cities. Heading to Utica is just the next chapter in a career that has seen it all. During all that time he’s proven to be an extremely capable AHL goaltender, but has struggled at the NHL level. Instead of keeping him as a backup in Vancouver, the Canucks will give Demko the chance to show that he is the next starter for the franchise.
There is a chance that McKenna is claimed, but even with his two-way deal that carries just a $700K cap hit it is unlikely. The veteran cleared before the season started, and there have been other goaltenders with more upside that have passed through recently. Any claiming team would have to try and put him through waivers again in order to send him to the AHL, at which point Vancouver would have a chance to get him back. There’s little reason to believe that McKenna is an upgrade at the NHL level for anyone, though there is always the chance that he’s used as an injury fill-in for a team like the Toronto Maple Leafs.