The Vancouver Canucks have moved one of their NHL goaltenders, trading Anders Nilsson and Darren Archibald to the Ottawa Senators. Coming back to the Canucks will be long-time minor league goaltender Mike McKenna, recently waived forward Tom Pyatt and a 2019 sixth-round pick. The two teams are set to face each other tonight in Ottawa.
The Canucks have long sought a way to provide an opportunity at the NHL level for top prospect Thatcher Demko, and moving Nilsson out of town will now do just that. The 28-year old Nilsson will join the sixth NHL organization of his career, and very well could find himself somewhere else when his current contract expires at the end of this season. Carrying a $2.5MM cap hit this season, his performance didn’t justify an extension with the Canucks given Demko’s presence.
In Ottawa, Nilsson will try to provide some NHL-caliber netminding to an organization that hasn’t gotten much of it lately. With Craig Anderson still out dealing with a concussion the team had turned to McKenna and Marcus Hogberg in net, a tandem that had a total of 24 NHL appearances prior to this season. The two have gone 1-6-1 with the Senators this year. Those performances, along with the disappearance of anything resembling NHL contributions from Mike Condon, actually make Nilsson a savvy move for the Senators who are hoping to capture some lightning in a bottle down the stretch. The team is obviously in a rebuild, but could potentially bring back Nilsson as another stop-gap option while Filip Gustavsson continues to develop.
Archibald too could be of use to the Senators, given his history of offensive production at the AHL level. Even if he doesn’t contribute to the Ottawa roster this year, he’ll be a solid addition for a Belleville AHL team that is still trying to compete for a playoff spot in the North Division. Archibald is also an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year, and will go directly to the AHL for the Senators organization.
Pyatt, whose $1.1MM cap hit cannot actually be entirely buried in the minor leagues, will also report directly to the AHL after clearing waivers today. He can now be moved up and down for the Canucks for the next little while, giving them some added flexibility and experience up front. Still, he won’t provide value for very long as he is scheduled to be a UFA at the end of the year.
McKenna’s role in this trade is to give the Utica Comets a starter should Demko be recalled, given the long-term injury to Richard Bachman. The Comets are not nearly as impressive as a year ago, but could still make the AHL playoffs and need an experienced netminder like McKenna—Utica would be his 15th AHL city—to get there. The veteran goaltender would need waivers to go to the AHL, something that you will likely see if the team decides to give Demko an NHL shot.