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Photo Credit: Matthew Henderson

Monday Mailbag: The Canucks’ top goaltending prospect, goalie depth chart, and what they have in Marc Michaelis

Another week, another mailbag.

Not many questions came in this week — as can be expected in the middle of the offseason, I suppose — so this will be a bit of a shorter mailbag than usual.

With that being said, let’s see what you wonderful people asked this week!

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Earlier last week, I wrote a prospect profile on Latvian goaltender Arturs Silovs, whom the Canucks selected in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.

Silovs has a ton of upside, but in my opinion, is nowhere near the level that Michael DiPietro is currently at.

A lot of people seem to not really understand how difficult the jump from junior to the AHL level is for a goaltender.

While what Silovs did at the World Juniors was impressive no doubt, the fact of the matter is he still put up fairly middle-of-the-road numbers last year in the OHL, a league DiPietro dominated in.

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DiPietro has done nothing but exceed expectations since making the jump to the professional level. He willed his way into the starter’s role in Utica last season and looked solid in eight minutes of play against the Vegas Golden Knights at the NHL level this season.

I know it’s a small sample size of NHL experience that doesn’t look all too pretty when you take into account his debut against the San Jose Sharks back in 2018-19, but DiPietro is only going to improve from here.

He’s shown he can be a reliable AHL starter and this will be a huge season for him as he will be coming into camp as the starter for the Comets. After one or two more full seasons as the starter in Utica, DiPietro will be more than ready to take over as the backup at the NHL level when Braden Holtby’s contract expires in two years or when he’s selected by the Seattle Kraken in the expansion draft next offseason.

To go back to the original question, no, I do not believe anybody who says that Silovs is a better prospect than DiPietro is right now. Silovs hasn’t even dominated at the OHL level yet, let alone the AHL level as DiPietro has.

On that note, let’s take a look at the Canucks’ goaltending depth chart!

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Braden Holtby and Thatcher Demko are going to be battling for starts next season, but right now, I’d say Holtby is pencilled in as the “starter”, but I’m using that term lightly. A solid camp from Demko could mean he’s the opening night starter solely based on how incredible he was for coach Green in last year’s playoffs.

So the depth chart looks as follows:

Braden Holtby. Solely based on merit and pedigree, Holtby is at the top of the Canucks’ depth chart, but Demko is very close behind.

Thatcher Demko. He could be in the number one spot by the midway point in training camp for all we know, but for now, it’s Holtby. Signing the best goaltender on the open market not named Jacob Markstrom is a clear indication that the Canucks still want to see more from Demko before labelling him as a true number one starter. If Demko isn’t ready, Holtby is a great safety net.

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Michael DiPietro. As stated earlier, DiPietro was great with the Comets last season and will benefit from another year of two getting his reps in as a full time AHL starter.

Arturs Silovs. He’s currently playing in Latvia and could be invited to Canucks training camp, but the development of Silovs will be something to keep a close eye on, as he could blossom into a true diamond in the rough pick.

Jake Kielly. Kielly gives the Canucks organizational depth, and not much more. At the age of 24, Kielly’s ceiling is likely as an AHL starter, but he’s not quite there just yet. He spent most of last season in the ECHL with the Kalamazoo Wings, but could find himself backing up DiPietro this season.

Matthew Thiessen. To be honest with you, it looks as though the Matthew Thiessen pick was a swing and a miss by the Canucks. Granted, they took him in the seventh round so they weren’t expecting much in the first place, but Thiessen has struggled mightily since being drafted by the Canucks back in 2018. It took just one game for him to lose the starting role last season with the University of Maine, and he hasn’t gotten any playing time since.

Admittedly, I haven’t seen a ton of Marc Michaelis, but I do know somebody who has! I asked J.D. Burke of EliteProspects for his opinion on the Canucks’ NCAA free agent signing from last season, and this is what he had to say:

“Michaelis profiles as a 13th forward type of player, someone who can contribute on the second unit penalty kill in a pinch if injuries arise. His skating is a bit of a concern, and I’m not sure his offensive instincts are good enough to drive big-time scoring numbers in the NHL, but something like 20 points might be attainable if everything breaks right. He’s relatively far along in his development, though, so it’s almost put up or shut up time right out of the gates for Michaelis, and the odds aren’t usually great with NCAA free agents.”

The Canucks aren’t going to be expecting much from Michaelis, but if he has a successful season with the Utica Comets in 2020-21, he could force his way up the Canucks’ depth chart in a hurry.

Zero, as far as I’m concerned. Fans were sounding the alarm after seeing him get limited ice time in the KHL, but at the Karjala Cup where Podkolzin was captain of the Russian squad and getting first-line minutes, he reminded everybody why he was such a high pick.

While he may not put up a ton of points at the NHL level, he has a motor and a commitment to the two-way game that his teammates and coaches are going to absolutely love.

When he plays at the World Juniors this year, it’s going to be a reminder/eye-opener for Canucks fans that he truly is a special player who will be a nice addition to this team.

That’s all for this week! To ask a question in a future mailbag, be sure to follow me on Twitter @Quadrelli and look out for the weekly mailbag tweet!