Vancouver signed McWard, 22, to a two-year entry-level contract in April. The undrafted free agent signing out of Ohio State University joined the team immediately, recording one goal in five games and burning the first year of the contract. He did not crack the Canucks roster out of training camp in 2023-24, though, and was assigned to Abbotsford to begin the season.
There, he started off his minor-league career with a goal, three assists, four points, and a +5 rating in 15 games before earning a recall from Vancouver last week. With Carson Soucy sidelined with a foot injury, the Canucks have been rotating players on their bottom defense pairing, including McWard, Mark Friedman, Akito Hirose, Noah Juulsen, and now Matt Irwin, who the Canucks recalled from Abbotsford yesterday and will make his season debut tonight against the Golden Knights.
McWard was rostered for three games during his recall but only played in one, logging one shot on goal in 9:05 of ice time against the Ducks on Tuesday. The right-shot defender, who remains waiver-exempt, will now resume a regular role in the minors. He will be a 10.2(c)-designated RFA at the end of the season, meaning he is ineligible to elect salary arbitration and ineligible to sign an offer sheet.