On Tuesday, the Canucks had one player added to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list, as Adam Gaudette tested positive for the coronavirus and was pulled off the ice at practice.
The Canucks also had one player taken off the list, however. Travis Boyd ended his mandatory quarantine after being claimed off waivers by the Canucks last week and joined the team for his first practice on Tuesday.
Boyd has played 105 NHL games with the Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs but has yet to stick in an NHL lineup long-term. With the Capitals and Leafs, he was stuck behind other talented forwards, resulting in him bouncing in and out of the lineup. In Vancouver, with the Canucks’ injuries and limited forward depth, Boyd has an opportunity to prove himself.
“I'm very excited to be here and I'm very excited for hopefully what's a very good chance and opportunity for me,” said Boyd after practice. “I’ve been on some good team with a lot of good players and...it’s been hard, I guess, personally for me to move up the lineup or even stay in the lineup consistently but I truthfully do believe I’m an everyday NHL player.”
"Wherever the Canucks need me to play, I’m happy to play."
At practice, Boyd joined the third line with Brandon Sutter and Tyler Motte, a line that could be expected to face some tough defensive matchups.
“Wherever the Canucks need me to play, I’m happy to play,” said Boyd. “I just want to play. I just want to help them team and I want to be out there every night. If it’s the third line tomorrow night, then that’s what it’ll be, and we’ll go out there and we’ll do a good job defensively and put together a good 60 minutes.”
Boyd, who had 41 points in 32 games in his final college season and 4 goals and 6 points in 4 games in his last stint in the AHL, will also be given an opportunity offensively. When Tuesday’s practice turned to the power play, Boyd joined the second unit with Gaudette, Tyler Myers, Tyler Graovac, and Nils Höglander.
“Every season I’ve been in the NHL I’ve been on the power play at some point,” said Boyd. “I’m very comfortable being there and obviously was excited to get out there today and get some reps.”
Canucks head coach Travis Green is hoping that the addition of Boyd can help spark a second power play unit that has struggled to contribute the same way they did last season.
“There's always a reason we put a guy there,” said Green. “I think he's a skilled player, he's got good hands. Anytime you're looking at a power play player, you're looking at their hockey smarts as well, if they're capable of playing it. We think that he's got a chance to do it. We're looking to gain some traction on our second unit, and he might be able to help.”
Boyd could get additional opportunities with Gaudette potentially out of the lineup. When the Canucks ran power play drills later in practice without Gaudette, Marc Michaelis stepped in to fill his spot on the second unit, but Gaudette was also skating on the wing in the top-six with J.T. Miller and Jimmy Vesey.
With Gaudette out and Jake Virtanen ill, the Canucks will need someone else on right wing on the Miller line and have limited options. Perhaps Boyd will get the chance.
After all, Boyd is already familiar with both Vesey and Miller. Boyd and Vesey played together this season with the Leafs and occasionally were on the same line, while Boyd played with Miller on the US National Team Development Program in Junior.
Boyd is also familiar with a few other current Canucks: he played with Jay Beagle and Braden Holtby with the Washington Capitals, as well as Nate Schmidt at the University of Minnesota.
“It’s a very nice thing for me to walk into a locker room and know a bunch of faces,” said Boyd. “I had a great time today, it was my first day with the team...It kind of makes it easier to come in here for the first week or two when you at least know a few guys and can at least say ‘Hi’ and start having a conversation.”