Welcome Matt: Who will be Canucks' backup goalie to Demko next season?
Our colleague Jeff Paterson has a rule of thumb when it comes to backup goaltenders.
If you’re going to be a playoff team, you need 10-12 wins from your backups. Combined with 35 wins from your starter (and some loser points in overtime/shootouts), that should be enough to get you to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Well, the Vancouver Canucks got 24 wins this year from a combination of Spencer Martin, Collin Delia, and Arturs Silovs. Problem is they only got 14 wins from starter Thatcher Demko, who missed nearly half the season and struggled in the early-going.
This week, GM Patrik Allvin said he did not anticipate spending much on the backup goaltender position, adding that he would not hesitate to go with Silovs if the 22-year-old proves he’s ready.
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“He took a big step this year playing a lot of games, carrying the team down there [in Abbotsford],” Allvin said. “He definitely showed us that he’s capable of playing at this level too. I think with a good summer for him coming into training camp, he has to prove it… If the young guys show that they’re ready, and they earned their way, I have no problem having him playing up here and challenging Demko for games.”
“A big part of that is watching Abbotsford in the playoffs,” Allvin added.
And that’s where things got interesting.
Many Abbotsford Canucks observers were surprised when Martin was named the starter for the opener of their playoff series against Bakersfield Wednesday night. Martin made 21 saves in a 3-0 victory.
Silovs had been getting starts down the stretch and one publication recently had him as the favourite to back up Demko next season.
Here’s more context from goalie guru Kevin Woodley of In Goal Media:
Not there tonight but watched him beat Calgary on Friday + talked to other G coaches in AHL about his game since going back down + word I heard most: in control … still aggressive situationally (assertive may be better word) but none of chase we saw at end in Vancouver https://t.co/tA50B0xZnr
— Kevin Woodley (@KevinisInGoal) April 20, 2023
So Martin, who is under contract for the league minimum next year, is getting another chance despite a ghastly 3.99 goals against average and a putrid .871 save percentage in the NHL this season.
And the Abby Canucks’ playoff run — long as it lasts — is serving as a preseason derby for the backup job months before the actual preseason.
If one, or both, perform well, then the Canucks might be set with their three goalies for next season. And Allvin won’t have to spend any money on the position this summer.