The Vancouver Canucks are in the midst of a youth movement. So, let’s take a look at the club’s top youngsters!
If the Vancouver Canucks want to make their ‘rebuild on the fly’ work, they need a strong foundation of young roster players. We all know the Bo Horvats and Ben Huttons of the team, but what’s after that? How are things for the AHL Utica Comets and what can we expect from the Canucks’ next crop of youngsters?
To answer those questions, our staff ranked all signed Vancouver Canucks players under the age of 25. After compiling a list of the top 10 Canucks prospects recently, this is all about who can help today. And guess what, the Canucks only have a total of 26 players under 25 signed and playing in North America right now.
Next up is No. 11 on our list: goaltender Thatcher Demko.
#11 – Thatcher Demko
Team: Utica Comets (AHL)
NHL Experience: 0 Games
How He Got Here
Thatcher Demko has always been the best. He isn’t an underdog. He isn’t a late bloomer. He has dominated every level he’s played at, and done so quickly. The last time he wasn’t the best goaltender on his team he was a 15-year-old playing in the USHL for the Omaha Lancers against 19-year-old men.
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Demko went from the USHL to the US National Development team. He played 19 games and posted a 15-3 record. As a 16-year-old, he was the best goaltender on the squad. I would say he was the best player, but there was a 15-year-old kid named Jack Eichel who wasn’t bad.
At 17 years old, Demko went to Boston College and quickly took over the starting job. Demko finished that year with a .919 save percentage. And each year at Boston College his numbers got better. The next year they were .925 and Demko was selected to the US World Junior team. Last year he posted a .935 save percentage over his final season. He was also a finalist for the Hobie Baker award last year.
The Vancouver Canucks selected Demko 36th overall in the 2014 NHL draft — and they never looked back.
Where He Is Today
Today, Thatcher Demko is the heir apparent in the Vancouver Canucks net. I think every Vancouver Canucks fan hopes he follows the same trajectory as another Boston College alum, Cory Schneider. Schneider and Demko both started Boston College young. Both came out of the US development program, and both stayed three years at Boston College before signing a professional deal with the Canucks.
Today, Thatcher Demko is a goalie for the Utica Comets. In most depth charts, he is listed behind Richard Bachman. I don’t know many people that expect him to stay there long. Utica’s other goalie from last season, Joe Cannata, was signed by the Washington Capitals this off-season. This makes Thatcher Demko a virtual lock to be one of the two regular goaltenders in Utica. He will get every chance to succeed for the Comets next year.
This 11th-place ranking might seem confusing, given the list of superlatives I hurled towards Demko. But, this is a countdown of the best under-25 Vancouver Canucks right now. If we took into account their upside, and their prospect status, it would be a different list. And hey, we did that too. But, as of right now Thatcher Demko is another AHL goalie fighting for starts against an established veteran.
Where He’s Headed
Just to prevent this from being a total coronation, Demko did have double hip labrum surgery after his second year at Boston College. Of course, after recovery he went on to have his best year at Boston College. And, in the era of low-post play, and pad skating, these hip surgeries are becoming extraordinarily common for goalies. They are like the Tommy John surgery of hockey. They will become common, nearly elective surgeries for young goalies, instead of waiting for the inevitable breakdown.
But realistically, Demko has every chance to be a star. At least, he should push Jacob Markstrom as the starter by the end of Markstrom’s three-year extension. I fully expect him to play one full year in the AHL and then start to see NHL action once Ryan Miller‘s contract ends. It took Schneider a few years to transition from the AHL to the NHL, and the transition will obviously be the toughest of Demko’s career. But he has conquered every challenge, and conquered them quickly.
Demko is large (6’3″), quick and plays a quiet positional game. He is the prototype of the current model of NHL goalie. He will be the Vancouver Canucks starter within five years. Naturally, this means he’ll be traded in eight and be an all star for another team in nine.