Photo Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

Ferraro: Canucks botched goalie situation

The Canucks left Mikey DiPietro out to dry against one of the hottest teams in the NHL on Monday.

DiPietro gave up a goal on the first NHL shot he faced vs. the San Jose Sharks and went on to incur a 7-2 loss.

TSN’s Ray Ferraro struggles to comprehend how a 19-year-old goalie out of junior was Vancouver’s only option against a powerhouse offensive team that includes Evander Kane, Logan Couture, Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski among others.

“Alot of it I don’t think they [Canucks] could have done much different, but in the end, they botched it.”

Ferraro details how most of it was an unfortunate chain of events that the Canucks simply couldn’t control. AHL starter Richard Bachman suffered a season-ending injury with the Utica Comets while Thatcher Demko’s camp put pressure on the Canucks to give the youngster his shot in the NHL.

The Canucks called up the 23-year-old rookie and traded away their current NHL backup Anders Nilsson to the Ottawa Senators. In that trade, the Canucks received goaltender and journeyman Mike McKenna. Still, nothing seemed to be amiss.

It’s when the Philadelphia Flyers claimed McKenna off waivers that the Canucks found themselves in a tough situation.

Demko then hurt his knee and the Canucks figured they call up DiPietro to backup their clear-cut starter Jacob Markstrom. The 19-year-old didn’t have to play, but he could work with Vancouver’s goalie coach and gain valuable experience at the NHL level.

The plan was never to start DiPietro, but the Canucks also didn’t have any other options. The Comets did sign Michael Leighton to a PTO, but there simply wasn’t anybody the Canucks could have called up from the AHL in a worst-case scenario.

Once Markstrom tweaked something, the Canucks were out of options. In the end, Ferraro believes the Canucks totally screwed up.

The Canucks traded for goaltender Marek Mazanec from New York on Tuesday to help address their goaltending issues.

“You mean to tell me you couldn’t have done that five days ago? 10 days ago? Once Demko got hurt, the plan to get DiPietro in was a bad plan. Because what if he had to play? And guess what? The worst of the worst happened.”

Ferraro was in disbelief of a goalie going from junior straight to starting in the NHL. It’s simply unheard of.

Ferraro concluded the rant by stating DiPietro will recover from this and fans shouldn’t feel the need to worry.

“Goalies have crappy games all the time. He’ll be fine. It’s not even a concern, but it’s a bad spot to put him in.”

It really was a series of unfortunate events that led to DiPietro getting his first NHL start at such a young age. Ferraro’s rant makes you think about what the team could have done differently to have prevented it.

  • About the only thing they could have done different was to abandon their attempts to reclaim McKenna from Philadelphia earlier than they did, and go to plan B (trade for a goalie) a few weeks ago. It was a calculated risk that didn’t pay off.

    When you get a run of injuries or illnesses over a short time, some strange situations can arise. It’s not a big deal.

  • Ah at last some common sense from the man that call’s it like it is. This stems back to Bachman’s season ending injury. They were forced to give Kulbakov a premanent position. This player was original intended to play in Kalamazoo ie management wanted a back up in case of disaster to be available. When he came up to Utica he was never replaced in Kalamazoo so was the plan to have an ECHL back up or not ? that was thier plan but they veered away from it. That’s where the problem started….. December 2018 !! in action and gambling when it wasn’t required. The roster was one goalie short at that time and until they made this most recent trade still were until Feb 2019 ! Sure McKenna through a wrench into it but this is a pro league … uou know the big boys league. Deal with it !!! Philly is not there to help you, they did what they needed to do you have to be ready and assess your risks … this they failed to do and the DiPietro farce was the result

  • “You mean to tell me you couldn’t have done that five days ago? 10 days ago?”

    I think the answer is: yes they could have. Because they didn’t, I remain convinced that the team was comfortable playing DiPietro for at least one game to see what they had, if it was needed in an emergency. It happened, he wasn’t close to ready and so they traded for someone else the next day.

    And y’know what? Why not! Many, many people have been clamouring for the team to put getting into the playoffs to the side to give the kids a shot to show what they have. Folks were happy to see him get a game before the outcome turned fickle fans against the move. Kid was happy, team got to see him in a game and they fixed the issue the very next day. I thought it was totally brazen, but kinda a cool moment for a prospect.

    • Aaaaaand, looks like I’m at least partially wrong. It looks like they couldn’t have done that 5 – 10 days ago. From the Province:

      “He could have made a trade before this week, but didn’t like the prices being asked. ‘Some of the other guys on the list, teams wanted second- and third-round picks for.’ And looking at another AHL goalie, one with NHL experience but not currently tied to a big-league club, doesn’t seem to have been really considered. ‘There’s no one else really out there,’ Benning has said before about the possibility of finding a free agent.”

    • I have no problem giving Di Pietro an audition, but you’d think they would have deployed the team defensively rather than just hang the kid out to dry.

  • hindsight is 20/20 Demko getting hurt was bad luck, maybe he is injury prone, most thought trading the backup to bring in the future was a good idea, you negative armchair GM’s are pretty annoying

  • Yes the Canucks made a mistake. Handling it differently would have been better. Long term negative impact is virtually zero. Minor misstep. Move on. Situation rectified. Obviously Management took the gamble to hold onto the draft pick and lost. DiPietro gets a story to tell and nobody else will care 5 minutes from now. Let everyone go back to whining about the Ericksson contract or Gudbranson trade.

  • Talk about much ado about nothing. It wouldn’t have mattered if we had the ghost of Jacques Plante in net against the Sharks last game. The whole team stunk. Dipietro learned that he has a lot to learn and that’s never a bad lesson for any young player, especially a goaltender.

    • I’d also add that even if Markstrom hadn’t been hurt, if we’re playing the odds, it’s probably better to try to get points against the crappy California teams than the really good one. This really is such an overreaction to a pretty minor situation. Hopefully Calgary fans aren’t killing themselves over getting destroyed by Tampa Bay. We are nowhere near SJ’s league. Having a better backup goalie plan wasn’t going to change that result.

      • Also this article and Ferraro’s whole point seems confused. If the chain of events was so much out of the Canucks’ control, why would getting another meh goalie have somehow changed everything? What if the Canucks trade for Mazanec ten days ago and we still lose 7-2? What does the narrative become then? “The season is already lost, why not put in a young guy and see what you’ve got? The Canucks aren’t committed to a rebuild/youth movement!!!” That’s exactly what was said the past few years anytime we get middle-of-the-road AHL filler at the end of the season instead of icing some more young guys.

        • I think the issue most people have isn’t that the game was lost. The Canucks were likely going to lose that game whether they had Markstrom or DiPietro or 1993 Patrick Roy in net. The issue is that bringing in a 19-year-old straight from Junior and playing him with no backup is incredibly unfair to a teenager, and shows again shows a lack of foresight and inability to manage assets that has been the hallmark of this Canucks management group.

          • In other words, you’re going to lose the game one way or the other, you might as well lose with an experienced journeyman goalie in net instead of letting a 19-year-old in his first NHL game get absolutely shelled. That’s a really crappy thing to do.

          • I’m in the camp that Goon described. It’s about the management process. As soon as McKenna was claimed, we were in a spot where we didn’t have a goaltender available for call-up from Utica. Bachman was injured, Kulbakov was struggling on an AHL contract.

            Lost McKenna? Fine, sign Leighton to a two-way contract instead of a PTO since they were nearly identical players. McKenna and Leighton were a similar age, had similar AHL/NHL stats, and nearly-identical contracts. (Leighton and Mazanec have the same contract, NHL league minimum plus $200k minors salary). Why did we have to wait for McKenna?

            If they didn’t sign Leighton when McKenna was claimed, they should have signed him when Demko got injured. But instead, they relied on the junior emergency back-up rule and now have burned a draft pick (albeit late round) for a pending UFA player that doesn’t add significantly more value than the free alternative.

          • I just think this issue is really overblown. Do you think that DiPietro is going to be ruined by this experience? The team rolls the dice on all kinds of things — all of them do. Sneaking Markstrom through waivers a few years ago worked when they hid him in a split squad game in the preseason. If he’d gotten claimed and is playing the way he is now they would’ve gotten castigated. At the end of the day there are things that Benning gets rightly roasted for (Gudbranson, not the trade as much as I’d say the resigning) and others that are really not as big of a deal. I think this falls into the latter camp. I don’t think Benning is incompetent, he is a middle of the pack GM.

          • On the whole, I’m a huge proponent of Benning. But it frustrates me to see how he made some very bad decisions on such a simple situation. Lost McKenna, sign Leighton. Done deal, no need to give up a draft pick nor put DiPietro in an unfavourable situation. It’s a rookie error that an experienced GM shouldn’t make.

        • Living in a refugee camp ,Yemen or Syria is crappy.
          Child labour and the lack of rights for women in most of the world is crappy.
          DiPietro is making $742,000 US or about a million dollars Canadian.
          Cry me a river.

          • This loser troll ‘Bud’ has been stinking up the joint for three years now and needs to be punted as Jackson suggested over a year ago.

            His trolling for attention is getting more absurd every day as more commenters either rip into or ignore his ridiculous obnoxious ramblings, this post proves it – time to cut this cancer out and get the forum healthy again. Simplez.

          • Complain to the sales department of CanucksArmy and threaten to notify their advertisers if they don’t clean ups these threads. I’ve already done it once and got the troll banned for a while anyways.

  • The only issue really, should be the awful start, AGAIN, and hanging a kid out to dry like that. As mentioned, in the big picture this will be a big nothing burger a week from now but there should have been a balls to the walls defensive effort to properly insulate Mikey (really Mikey?) instead there was a 12 minutes of watching how good San Jose can be. That was embarrassing.

  • Amazing how suddenly this deal with the Rangers emerged when before he would have had to give up 2nds or 3rds to get a professional backup.

    You people need to raise your expectations. What if this was a playoff game – would it be a big deal then? If so, are we just saying this game vs. the Sharks didn’t matter, despite them being right in the thick of a playoff race? Are the playoffs not important to these guys then? Did they think Dipietro was up to the task?

    I’m firmly on the side of a high draft pick vs the playoffs this year so the loss doesn’t bother me at all – but this level of ineptitude from the two bumbleheads running the show is concerning – especially when added to their track record.

    • No Dirk, the playoffs would be a perk. It is not what’s driving decisions nor is it what’s important to pretty much anyone here. If the Canucks have to give up any prospects or draft pick beyond this 7th next year in pursuit of the playoffs and not the long term, that would be the mistake. Clearly Benning did everything he could not to use an asset and only used the least valuable he had when absolutely necessary.
      What if this were a playoff game? Wow sterling use of hyperbole but other than being amazing we made it at least a year ahead of schedule, not a big picture problem.

  • Thatcher Demko’s camp put pressure on the Canucks to give the youngster his shot in the NHL.

    This is a case of “repeat it enough times and it must be true.” Demko, or his camp, have zero leverage to have him called up.

    The Canucks have always planned to bring up Demko this year and stated it openly. He would have been up in November if not for his concussion. They gave him like 10 games in Utica to get back into game shape and made the move. To suggest this was somehow forced upon them is ridiculous.

    • “repeat it enough times and it must be true.”

      Modus operandi at Canucks Army amongst some writers. No evidence is ever presented to support the mantra either.

      Yeah, Demko wasn’t going back to Utica next year. Nilsson was playing like crap and Demko proved all that he needed to in the AHL. Demko’s promotion wasn’t forced, it was inevitable.

    • Regarding the statement “The Canucks have always planned to bring up Demko this year and stated it openly” I have a couple of questions, because I hadn’t noticed them saying that.

      1. Can you point me somewhere I can see a record of the Canucks stating that openly?

      2. Did they actually intend to bring him up for keeps or just to see some action?


  • I don’t mind the Canucks giving DiPietro a shot. They could have signed a career minor leaguer to sit and watch Markstrom play the string of games until Demko comes back. Instead they give a kid a chance like Benning has said all year that he would do.

    • Ditto. Whether the opportunity was planned or not it was nonetheless an opportunity. Hopefully, Dipietro will used this particular experienced to further his developement. In my opinion, this experience will only really matter or not to Dipietro.

      The Canucks are still rebuilding but the core that is being develope by this management team seems to have great potential. Management decision(s) will always matter but the main reason for the cap will eventually catch up: parity among the teams. Thus, the cycle begins again and with it the Genuises/Troll(s)… smh.

  • “There wasn’t anyone out there” can someone please, please explain to me why they didn’t sign Michael Leighton, who is ALREADY WITH THE COMETS ON A PTO, to an NHL deal a week ago? As in, isn’t the answer staring them in the face. No one wants Leighton to be in the long term plans, but the guy has 127 games of NHL experience (including 16 playoff games), and would have cost the team nothing but a contract. He’s an older guy, sure, but we’re talking about a player that is going to be the emergency 3rd string goalie for the next two months here, not someone the team needs to plan around. Not lamenting a 7th round pick, and I think DiPietro will get over it just fine, but how has the option to grab Leighton on an NHL deal for the rest of the season not being talked about? And it’s not a waiver thing either, to the best of my knowledge, any other NHL team could sign him right now if they wanted to, since he’s on a PTO and not an AHL deal.

    • Leighton will be 38 years of age in May.
      He has played 7 NHL games in the last 9 years.
      The Canucks goaltending dept. advised against WASTING their 47th contract on him.
      Conversely, Mazanec is 27 years of age and has played 31 NHL games over the last three seasons.
      10 GAMES/30 DAYS before being exposed to waivers so they don’t lose the asset and Demko has time to fully recover.
      Green is quoted here as saying Clark/Cloutier both have liked Mazanec for a while and so he was chosen:
      Benning addressed this issue stating the .org had targeted other goaltenders but teams wanted second and third round picks and he wasn’t willing to sacrifice that.
      So,Mazarec was not anywhere near their targeted first choice but they had to settle on him when Markstrom sat out and DP went in.

  • I was excited to see him play at the beginning, and I think he had major jitters. There have been a few young goalies come in and start dominating this last while, and maybe it looked like he could be in that company, and maybe he still could. I don’t think you should ever judge a player by mistakes made in the first game, the big show is a whole mental distraction in itself, like performing or public speaking for the first time. Heck, I remember Markstrom’s first game, he let in 8 or something, I think. Could things have gone better? Sure. But now he goes back and works to get ready to be there, and takes his training even more serious, plus, the real hidden lining in this game is the team sees where it really is at without the goaltender saving most games (still needing rebuilding/a lot of work).