Vancouver Canucks: Exploring Hot Takes Part II

VANCOUVER, BC - MARCH 31: Thatcher Demko
VANCOUVER, BC - MARCH 31: Thatcher Demko /

Once again there is a young goaltender on the rise in the Canucks organization. That  goalie is Thatcher Demko ,and could this season be the one where we see him bid for the starting goalie spot. Here’s why I believe Thatcher Demko will be the starting goalie for the Vancouver Canucks by Valentine’s Day.

My first Vancouver Canucks hot take was simple, I’ve wrote about it before and that was that Elias Pettersson would get more than 60 points in his rookie season.

In this sequel, I’m going to explore a road that is often less traveled and for good reason,  because who exactly knows when a goaltender is ready to be a full time starte? It’s the most mysterious position in hockey, and it’s been played by some of the most enigmatic characters we see in the NHL.

The Evolution of Thatcher

Thatcher Demko has been evolving into a better goalie every year that he plays the position. He began his NCAA career in the 2013-14 season with the Boston College Eagles where in his freshman season he put up a 2.24 goals against average (GAA) and a .919 save percentage.

Over the next two seasons with the Eagles his game got even better, in his sophomore season he posted a 2.19 GAA and a .925 save percentage. In his final year before joining the Utica Comets, he had another great season for the Eagles, where he had an astonishing 1.88 GAA with a .935 save percentage.

Demko could not get his Eagles past the NCAA national semifinals, a place where he lost twice, once in 2014 and again in 2016. The noticeable thing for Demko is the improvement from year to year. The main thing you want to see with these young guys is improvement. It’s clear that Demko got better with every season in the NCAA.

Related Story. Canucks: Demko, Leipsic and Gaudette shine vs. Flames. light

After his junior year, Demko made the jump to pro, which is easier said than done. The shots are harder, players are faster and the daily grind of being a full-time hockey player can be a shock to the system.

Demko stepped immediately into a starting job for the Utica Comets in 2016, and in his first season he played 45 games and posted a 2.68 GAA with a  .907 save percentage in his rookie pro season.

Demko made the improvements that we expected in year two with the Comets, as he augmented every single statistic that is kept for goaltenders. He played in 46 games and had a 2.44 GAA with a .922 save percentage, some impressive numbers that had Canucks fans calling for Demko last season to come pull the door stop out that is Anders Nilsson and too a degree Jacob Markstrom.

Learning from the Cleveland Browns?

It’s clear that Demko will be a NHL goaltender sooner than later, so why not give him a run of games around Christmas time, that a pretty nice present if you ask me. It’s strange to say but maybe the Canucks should take a page out of the Cleveland Browns book.

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Let Markstrom and Nilsson ride out until Christmas, around that time we will know if this team has a chance to make the playoffs. If the playoffs are looking out of reach in late December then move to the young guy, in the Browns situation it will be Baker Mayfield, in the Canucks situation it should be Demko.

If Demko were to get a 50-50 run with Markstrom after Christmas then it would create a midseason competition that would push both goalies to get to another level. We would see where Demko stacks up against Markstrom for the future, and then from Christmas to Valentine’s day we would have a battle that would set up for the opportunity for Demko to get used to being a starter from Valentine’s day on for the remaining 24 games.

I would love to see Demko as the starter by Valentine’s Day, management has said daily that if young guys earn a sport they will make room for them. Demko sure has earned it, his game has improved at every level where he has been tested and is at the age now where he is ready to be an NHL goalie. He needs to adjust to the big league speed of the game and get used to the superior shots that he will likely face for the next 15 years of being a goaltender.

We could not ask for much more of Demko at the AHL level and I understand that for these young guys we want to see them play as much as possible. I would also like to see how Demko makes the modification to his game to become a full time NHL goalie instead of just being a pro, there is a big difference but I am confident that he is ready for that challenge.

What are the chances of this happening?

When I began writing this article, my idea for a percentage was actually pretty low. But the more I think it out, the more I believe that we can see Demko get the starting job near the end of season.

I’m going to say there is a 45% chance that this comes true. If there is an injury to Jacob Markstrom or Anders Nilsson, we will get to see Demko sooner than later.

Spoiler alert, he has already won over the fans.

It’s an exciting time for the whole squad and a big piece of any winning hockey team is their starting goalie. We will see Demko in that starting role soon, and let’s embrace is sooner than later. Why? Because we may have another Roberto LuongoCory Schneider situation on our hands in a few years, when Michael DiPietro starts making a run. So let’s make the move sooner than later and get some valuable NHL experience for Demko.

Next. Vancouver Canucks: Exploring 3 Hot Takes Part 1 of 3. dark

Stay tuned for part three where I will explore a hot take that I think has a 2% chance of coming true. It’s why Horvat won’t be the captain of the Canucks.