In a bit of a surprising move this morning the Vancouver Canucks claimed forward Brandon McMillan off waivers from the Arizona Coyotes. The Canucks announced the acquisition earlier this morning:
Vancouver, B.C. – Vancouver Canucks General Manager Jim Benning announced today that the Canucks have claimed left winger Brandon McMillan off of waivers.
McMillan, 24 has three points in 50 games for the Arizona Coyotes this season (1-2-3) and has recorded 16 penalty minutes. In 163 career NHL games McMillan has 35 points (14-21-35) and 60 penalty minutes playing for the Coyotes and Anaheim Ducks organizations.
The 5’11”, 190-pound winger was originally selected by Anaheim 85th overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. McMillan is a native of Richmond, B.C.
In Arizona McMillan was a bottom-six forward, who like the majority of the Coyotes, struggled this year. With only 3 points this season and a dreadful -18 plus-minus rating, it’s clear why he may no longer have had a spot on the struggling Coyotes.
But why would the Canucks claim him?
McMillan played for head coach Willie Desjardins at the 2010 World Juniors, so Desjardins has some familiarity with him. Also, the Canucks seem to have hit a run of injuries with Nick Bonino and Brad Richardson currently out. So adding a depth NHL player at this point seems like a reasonable idea. I don’t expect McMillan to come in and replace Bonino, but he does provide more depth in the bottom-six forward group.
This move is puzzling because at this exact moment you could make the argument that there isn’t room for McMillan on the Canucks’ roster. Zack Kassian has started to look like the player we were hoping to see. Ronalds Kenins has played exactly like you would hope for a bottom-six player and helped launch Bo Horvat’s current hot streak. Once Bonino and Richardson are back, then there is absolutely no room for McMillan.
There have also been more effective players on waivers recently. Personally, I would have claimed Magnus Paajarvi from St. Louis a few weeks ago instead of McMillan.
So that leads us to think, maybe this is the first small transaction towards a upcoming big trade?
Only time will tell.
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