Thatcher Demko (G)
I’ll admit, it was tough choosing between Gaudette and Thatcher Demko. Both players have enough talent to play for the Canucks in 2018-19, but veterans are occupying roster spots. As for Demko, he played incredibly well for the Utica Comets last season.
He ranked high in save percentage, but more importantly, his GSAA indicates he prevented 21 more goals against over the average goaltender in the AHL. That statistic comes from Colin Cudmore, who tracked AHL goalies last season. Demko’s GSAA was good for third in the league behind Garret Sparks and Michael Hutchinson.
I wouldn’t get too hung up on his save percentage in his NHL debut. First, it was one game. Second, save percentage is more of a team stat, but he played well at 5v5. Again, it’s a small sample size, so I wouldn’t fixate on it. Demko was the backbone for the Comets last season and he single-handedly kept his team in the series against the eventual Calder Champion Toronto Marlies.
Anders Nilsson is the only player in Demko’s way and I think the younger player will outdo the veteran. I wondered if Jim Benning would waive Nilsson out of camp, but I think he is looking to give the towering Swede another chance. However, my bold prediction for Demko is that he plays so well, the Canucks have no choice but to keep him on the opening night roster. Who am I kidding? The team won’t do that. Although, I can dream.